System Recovery for Windows

If after all the troubleshooting, repairing and even the restoring from a created restore point, you find that the only solution your left with is a recovery either from a partition or from a disk there are some things you need to do before and after to ensure a smooth and peaceful windows recovery.

We’ve all had it done to us at one time or another if we’ve owned our computer for more than a year or two; the computer catches a virus, or the power goes out, or the cat, well never mind, you get the idea. If you find that you’ve reached the end of your rope and just cannot fix or repair the windows operating system and you’ve tried to restore your computer to another, earlier time, a recovery is probably your next and almost final option.

There’s a couple of things you should know and there are some things you should definitely do before you take this kind of step, either the recovery over a current installation or a format and recovery. I’ll first go over some helpful troubleshooting ideas that might help out before that final step of recovery is used, and a clarification of some terms just so we’re on the same page.

A system restore is just turning back the time on your computer to a time that was in the past or earlier than the current time. A restore point is a certain time that the computer has a file stored with all the information recorded about settings and important things about the computer. These are stored for just the time when you have changed things on your computer and can’t figure out how to undo things that didn’t work quite as you planned. This is a system that Microsoft has installed as part of Windows to help people undo things on their computers. It will not erase or delete any files but instead just sets all computer and registry settings back to an earlier time, your data and files, pictures and addresses are not touched. This is performed from the help and support sections restore.

A Windows system recovery is a system tool that reinstalls the windows operating files and system files over the top of the current and existing files already on your hard disk drive. A recovery can be done from the system recovery disk or from the manufacturer’s installed recovery program that most computer manufacturers’ include as a program on the program list of the start menu.

A system recovery with a format will wipe everything off your hard drive and erase all the information, files and settings of your computer and restore your computer to it’s factory shipped condition. This will not save anything but some settings of installed hardware, maybe. That is the important part of it though, it may save some of the drivers of hardware that is installed, or install them as part of it’s initial startup from a stock of drivers on Windows XP. But the important thing to know between a restore, recovery and a destructive or format recovery is that a restore just turns the settings back a little in time, a recovery reloads windows files, and a format or destructive recovery erases the drive and reloads everything to original.

When you perform a format recovery or destructive recovery you will not have any files, systems settings, pictures, data, or even bookmarks or email addresses that were on your computer after the recovery. This is why it is important to do a few things before you perform a system recovery, and especially a destructive recovery. You will need to save any important files, pictures, addresses and bookmarks to reinstall later for your different programs. You can save these to a disk or zip disk but the easiest way to do this costs a little bit more but is the safest and best way, you backup files and such with an external or second hard drive.

There are some drives that are low cost drives for around $50, Western Digital is a large company of computer and especially disk drives and has some good economical hard drives. I use two drives, it sounds like a costly deal but I got a good price on both of them, they were ones that the stores were not only having a sale on but had rebates as well. I use the first external hard drive as the drive for my files, pictures and any thing I want to save on, this is my working storage area. I have shortcuts to files on my desktop and any files each person who uses my computer wants to save use these folders that are on the external drive. I have another external drive with a program from the manufacturer that automatically backs up my first external drive once a week. On Friday when I get up I turn on my computer and the external drives and at 8:00 the program backs up the first drive, it takes less than a half hour, copying files that have not already been copied previously by looking at the dates the files have been modified and copying any that have been used since the last back up.

If you go on the premise that all electronic and computer components will someday die, or whatever, it makes sense to backup a working drive or computer with one that you will not be using very much, once a week in my case. Now on to bigger and better things. The things you can do before the recover is kind of frustrating, troubleshooting problems on your computer can be hard to figure out and perform. If you are having some kind of problems with your computer try searching Google for it, type exactly what the computer is doing into Google and see what the results are, maybe others have had the same problem and you can get some help that way. Of course you should search the Microsoft help section for answers, and some others like Annoyances.org http://www.annoyances.org/ ,PC Guide http://www.pcguide.com/ts/ and your documentation that came with your computer as well as any help and support sections on your computer. So many sites can help if you know the questions to ask, that is why the best way is to search for the exact thing your computer is doing for other people who have had the same thing happen to them. For virus information and help you can go to CNET.com http://www.cnet.com/2001-1_1-0.html?tag=hdrgif and their download.com to get help for removing spyware, adware or some viruses. You can also try Trend Micro’s free program for virus checking and removal and two other programs for adware and cool web site invaders, an annoying web site search that sometimes changes browser settings. They are here and are completely free: http://housecall.trendmicro.com/.

Now on to the recovery, if after you find no help from any troubleshooting and need to do a recovery, don’t start with the format or destructive recovery unless you are specifically told that is what you need to do. You should always try the lesser of two evils and do the simple recovery. In the same vein I would suggest trying to do a restore before a recovery. I know it’s confusing but it can be figured out, just read my article again and if you still have questions try searching your question on Google for some clarity.

In this order then, restore, recovery, and if it still does not work do the destructive or format recovery. Before you do the recovery, backup any files, pictures, and things like your email addresses and bookmarks. Copy things to disks or another drive that you want to keep like pictures and files. For saving things like Outlook Expresses Address book open the Outlook Express and go to Tools, then Address book and if you want to copy them to a disk or drive press export then Address Book, it will ask where you want to export to and you go to the drive the disk is on or just the drive. Or you can just open the Address book and print out the addresses and re input them by hand later if you want. You can do this with bookmarks as well, on your browser, Internet Explorer, go to file, then Import Export and follow the wizard for exporting your favorites. After the install of the new system you use the import to get the files back for your favorites.

You can often find help for this as well by going to sites like annoyances.org, they have a lot of simple questions and answers from people that have had the same things happen to them, the whole site is made up of real people with real problems and the answers that fixed those problems. They have questions to things like settings and how-to’s for the simple things as well as the more complex or confusing things for your computer.

I wrote this for your help because I just went through a weekend of computer troubleshooting and nothing worked but the destructive recovery. My son went to some sites when he was looking for lyrics to a song and got on some bad sites. I don’t blame him, I blame the sites for not having the security they should have on their servers. But I got all kinds of problems, I think it was a sasser worm but I don’t know. I tried to get rid of it and could not detect any worm after I got rid of all the problems that my Pccillin program said I had.

I was getting an error for my Lsass.exe program that I could not get fixed, Lsass.exe is the Local Security Authority Service for Windows system. It is basically a system program that deals with security and log ins to your computer. The sasser worm infects or mimics this program, you can get errors or have programs quite on you when you are trying to use your computer. I was having the problem of my computer shutting down on me when I was trying to use it and used the event log in the control panels administrative tools to find out what was going on. I tried the restore and recovery to no avail, and went with the destructive one but forgot to backup my email’s address book and bookmarks. Oops.

There are somethings after the recovery that can be a help when you are reinstalling the files and programs you need to use. First right before you perform the system restore you should disconnect the internet cable from the telephone jack or external modem. Then after the recovery, you first install your antivirus and firewall, then hookup the cable so that you do not get a virus right after the recovery. After the recovery you should make some restore points when you have made a successful recovery, in case something goes wrong while installing programs and such and you want to set your things back some. This is all so the recovery and subsequent installation goes smoother. I created several restore points in the last two days of installing programs, I have a lot on my computer. That way if I get some problem while doing the next program I just go into the help and support section and restore my computer back to another time, and when I created the restore points I labeled them by what I had just done on the computer before that point, i.e. installed windows & virus protect.

Right after you install the system and it works, you should install the virus protection program you will be using and then the next thing is you should update Windows, before installing any other programs. Go right to the update on the bowser and update Windows, after of course setting up your internet and the things your computer needs, but before installing other programs. This way you have the required and recommended security issues that Microsoft has found and the resulting fixes installed and working on your system. Don’t go searching on the internet before updating Windows as many security issues they fix and protect are covered by these fixes in the updates.

Many times the troubleshooting is confusing and frustrating, so you need to go about it with a clear head and step back from time to time to catch your breath. I hope this helps any people that are having problems with their computer and if you do need to troubleshoot your computer or do a recovery, follow my steps for a smoother and less frustrating time.

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