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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Windows XP System Restore

System Restore automatically tracks changes to your computer at specific intervals to create restore points. Restore points can be scheduled or manually created. They also are automatically created before any changes are made to the system configuration. These restore points only back up system and program files. System Restore, by default, is set up to monitor and restore all partitions on all drives in your system. It also monitors all installations of all applications or drivers that users install through normal delivery mechanisms such as CD-ROMS, floppy drives, and so on. If you accidentally delete a monitored program file (such as .exe or .dll files) or they have become corrupted, you can restore your computer to a state that existed before those changes occurred via a restore point.

System restore does not cause you to lose your personal files or passwords. It does not restore any files located in the My Documents folder. It does not restore any files with common data filename extensions, such as .doc or .xls. To ensure your personal data files are completely safe from system restore writing over them, save them in the My Documents folder.

If a program was installed after the restore point that you are restoring, the program will most likely be uninstalled. Data files that were created with that program will not be lost; however, you will have to reinstall the program to use the data files.


  • PC-compatible desktop/tower computer system running Windows XP Professional


In this lab, you work with the Windows System Restore tool. This enables you to restore a PC to a previous state and time, and resolve issues where a recent operating system modification is causing problems.

  1. Setting up the amount of drive space to be used by System Restore

    1. Open System Restore by choosing Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore, as shown in Figure 3.37.

    2. The Welcome to System Restore screen will appear, as shown in Figure 3.38.

    3. Figure 3.37Figure 3.37 Opening System Restore.

      Figure 3.38Figure 3.38 System Restore Welcome screen.

    4. The Welcome screen contains a brief explanation of the System Restore utility, an area to select whether you want to restore to an earlier time or create a restore point. On the left hand side is a link to the Advanced settings for System Restore. Click on System Restore Settings. Depending on if you have a single drive or multiple drives in your system you might get either of the two windows in Figure 3.39.

    5. Figure 3.39Figure 3.39 System Properties—System Restore tab.

    6. Notice the check box at the top of the screen. Turning off System Restore turns off the function on all drives. Leave the box cleared. For computers with a single drive skip to step 5. Highlight drive C: from the list and click the Settings button. The System Restore settings for the selected drive are displayed.

    7. You can move the slider to increase or decrease the amount of disk space allocated for the restore points. Click OK to close the Drive Settings dialog box (multiple drives only), and then click OK to close the System Properties screen.

  2. Restoring your system from an existing restore point

    1. Make sure Restore My System to an Earlier Time is selected and click Next to continue. The Select a Restore Point Wizard opens, as shown in Figure 3.40. Notice on the left hand side of the wizard is a calendar. The dates displayed in bold contain restore points that you can use to restore your system to that date.

    2. Figure 3.40Figure 3.40 Select a Restore Point Wizard.

    3. Choose the closest date to the current day with a valid restore point and click on it once.

    4. Notice on the right that it changes to what was done for the computer to create the restore point. In Figure 3.41 the restore point created on March 26, 2003 had multiple restore points created and each one has a time associated with it. For yours it should have one checkpoint and display a system checkpoint with the time. If there are multiple restore points on that day select the one latest in the day and click on Next.

    5. Clicking Next will cause the Restore Point Confirmation screen to appear, as shown in Figure 3.42. This screen provides the date and time of the restore point being used.

    6. Figure 3.41Figure 3.41 Restore point date with multiple restore points.

      Figure 3.42Figure 3.42 Restore point confirmation screen.

    7. Click Next to begin the restore process.

    8. The wizard collects some information about the system and then logs off. It then starts the restore process as in Figure 3.43.

    9. Figure 3.43Figure 3.43 System restore process.

    10. After the restore process is finished the system will be restarted. Then the desktop appears, and the System Restore Wizard displays the results as shown in Figure 3.44. If the restore process failed, you would be advised to choose another restore point, and try again.

    11. Figure 3.44Figure 3.44 System Restore results screen.

  3. Creating a System Restore point

    1. You will now manually create a System Restore point. Open the System Restore Wizard from the Start menu as before. This time select Create a Restore Point and click Next to continue.

    2. You will be asked to provide a name for the restore point. The name you choose should be representative of the purpose of the point, such as New Driver or the current date. For this lab, you will enter the date. Enter the current date in the Restore Point Description text box, as shown in Figure 3.45, and click Create to continue.

    3. Figure 3.45Figure 3.45 Restore point description.

    4. The system will create the Restore point, and when done will display confirmation that the point has been created, as shown in Figure 3.46. Click on Home when finished to return to the Welcome to System Restore screen.

    5. Figure 3.46Figure 3.46 A restore point has been created.

What Did I Just Learn?

Preparation can make the difference between quick resolutions and slow ones. System restore and restore points enable you to quickly restore a system back to a known good operating point. This saves the need for reinstallation. This lab gave you experience in the following areas:

  • Set up drive space to be used by System Restore

  • Restore your computer from an existing restore point

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