System Restore for Windows…Turn Back the Clock

System Restore
Most newly purchased computers come with a Restore disc. If your operating system is already installed, as most are, you should receive at least the restore disc and your installed OS, in case you ever have to do a complete re-installation on the computer. That’s a nightmare we don’t have to explore just now.

WARNING: Be certain of the decision to Restore before you do it. In older Windows versions, Restore cannot be undone. If you roll back to a point from last week, and yesterday, you transferred pictures your granddaughter’s senior prom into the computer, you may lose them. Always back up files you create on disc or exclude them. Older Windows versions may not allow this, so be careful!

System Restore should be located in the Start menu, in the Accessories tab. In Accessories, you’ll find System Tools. System Restore should be there. In newer Windows versions, you can have the computer create restore points for you. Windows XP does it automatically. A restore point is a time in the life of your computer that’s recorded and saved. You can “roll back” to that point if things go haywire.

Reasons to Restore are simple and often helpful. If you accidentally download a nasty bit of spy ware, or a virus, and your virus program just can’t kill it, you can Restore to a point before the virus appeared. This doesn’t always kill or get rid of a virus, or even spy ware, but its one of the Worse Case Scenario fixes. Don’t ever try to Restore as a knee-jerk reaction. Try your virus scan first.

Once you go into System Restore, you can tweak the Settings. For some programs or installations, you have to turn Restore off. This is the place where you do that, if you need to. I don’t suggest turning Restore off, unless you have to for a particular program. Always turn it back on. Restore can save you from the pain of losing everything or a bad installation. Clicking the System Restore Settings link will also show you a General tab that will tell you which version of XP you have, which Service Pack, and your registration information.

Create A Restore Point
If you’ve recently installed something, upgraded, or added new hardware, you may want to create a Restore Point. You can do this easily on the opening screen. Click Next and you’ll be given a place to name this Point. Try to name it so you’ll know what changes were made to motivate the creation of the Point. If those Prom pictures came out just perfect, you can call it Prom 2006. Other good naming ideas: Upgraded Program X, Installed Hardware A, Re-Installed Program Y.

Once you have the Point named, you simply click Create, and the system will begin making a map of the current settings and program configurations.

It’s as simple as that. In XP, you’ll get a screen confirming the Point is created, and the date & time of creation.

Rolling Back
On occasion, it will be necessary to “roll back” your computer to a previous Restore Point. In XP, you simple select Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time and click Next. On one side of this box, you’ll have the name, date & time of recent Points. On the other, you’ll have a calendar highlighting the days these Points were created.

This is why it’s important to name your Points so you know what you had when it was made. Let’s roll back to the Point “Test”. You select the Point you want to go back to and click Next. You get a screen confirming your choice and warning you to close and save anything you don’t want effected. Windows will shut down and restart and everything will go back to the way it was when the Point was created.

It really is that easy. Once your system comes back up, you’re set.

As I mentioned earlier on, System Restore should be a last resort to fix serious problems with your computer. You shouldn’t do it on a whim. I do however, encourage you to create Restore Points as frequently as you Defrag.

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