If you are in friendly terms with your computer, you are not scared to check new games, update the firmware drivers, and play with system settings. In most cases, you do not see any drawbacks of your activities, in some cases, the performance of your PC even improves. But, sometime, it gets really bad. You get strange and unusual warnings, you cannot access files and services, and you know that you screwed up. One of the ways to resolve the generated problems is get back to the system status, when it was working properly. And that is quite easy task for even not very experienced users.
Windows XP System Restore takes snapshots of your computer's configuration over time. In the event of a disastrous installation or configuration change that didn't go your way System Restore can roll back Windows' state to a working version, without affecting any of your data.
By default, Windows XP enables System Restore on all your computer's hard drives (if you have over 200 megabytes of disk space available after Windows XP is installed). To see if System Restore is turned on, in Control Panel, under Performance and Maintenance, choose System. From the System Restore tab, clear the "Turn off System Restore on all drives" checkbox. Make sure that your computer's drive - at least the one that contains your system and program files, usually the C: drive - status is listed as "Monitoring," as shown below.
System Restore tracks changes in the Windows registry, user profiles, .dll's and other internal Windows files over time. Therefore, if you have multiple drives or partitions on your computer, but only one runs Windows, it makes sense to just set System Restore to monitor the drive where your operating system and applications reside.
To run System Restore, from the Start menu, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, choose System Restore. From there choose whether or not you want to restore a previous state or create a new saved state, which you can name. For example, if you wanted to clean up your computer's startup by hand, you'd take a snapshot first and call it "Pre startup cleanup."
To restore your computer to a previous state, note that current documents, files and email are not affected. Choose your previous state from a calendar, as shown.
Finally, a restoration can be undone. To reverse your restoration, start up System Restore and choose "Undo my last restoration," and click next.
System Restore is not a replacement for file backup; it takes snapshots of your computer's configuration and program files, not your personal data and information.
System Restore takes system snapshots every day the computer's on during idle time, as well as before system changes, like Windows Automatic updates, driver installations, software installations and system restorations. The Microsoft web site lists specific times and instances in which System Restore snapshots are taken.
One of the main gripes against System Restore is that it can take up a lot of hard drive space. By default, System Restore is given 12% of disk space. To change that amount, right click on My Computer and choose Properties. From the System Restore Tab, adjust the disk space slider in the Settings area, as shown.
New snapshots age and overwrite old ones, so the more space you allocate to System Restore, the more restore points you'll have available in the event of a system misconfiguration.
Windows Vista and Windows 7
Windows 7 and Vista has a feature called System Restore that automatically backs up registry and system files whenever you install new software or drivers as well.
There are two places that you can use the system restore feature from. From within Windows, you can just type restore into the Start menu search box, and you’ll immediately see System Restore at the top of the start menu:
You can also type rstrui into the search box and hit enter.
You will immediate see a screen where you can choose to roll back the system to the last restore point. You can select “Recommended restore”, and just click next, or you can choose a different restore point.
If you do choose a different restore point, you will see a list of restore points that you can choose from. Click one of them, and you will have to confirm and then restart your computer to roll the system back.
Note1: For best results, you should run System Restore from safe mode. If you receive an error while restoring, then use it from safe mode and it should work fine. To get into Safe mode, you can reboot and use the F8 key right before Windows starts up.
Note2: If you can’t even get into windows, you can boot off the installation DVD, and choose the “Repair your computer” option on the lower left hand side. Click next on the next screen, and then choose System Restore from the System Recovery dialog. It will take a few seconds to come up, and you will see the same screen that you would see in Windows. Click next, and on the next screen select the drive that your copy of Windows 7 or Vista is installed on.
Click Finish, and Windows will roll back to the previous restore point.