How To Use System Restore

System Restore is a feature built into Microsoft Windows, which is designed to enable the end user restore their computer’s system files back to an earlier point. It creates an avenue for computer users to undo system changes, without adversely affecting their personal files.

Sometimes, something as simple as the installation of an application, or the installation of a particular component, can affect the system in ways not anticipated. In most cases, removing the component or uninstalling the application is enough to reverse the adverse changes. However, if the go-to method fails to fix the problem, then you can always use System Restore to revert the computer back to a point when it was working correctly.

In order for System Restore to revert your system back to earlier state, it must create restore points, System Protection (which is a component of System Restore) is what is used to create these restore points. In these restore points, information about system information and registry settings are saved. It’s also possible for you to manually create these restore points.

System image backups can also be used in the same many as the restore points created by System Protection. Although a system image backup, will contain both personal data and system files, during the restoration process, only the system files will be restored, leaving your current personal data intact.

System Restore, though a powerful tool cannot be used as a means of backing up your data, this is because it’s incapable of restoring data that was previously deleted. If you want to keep your computer data safe, then you should regularly back your files up, using a dedicated backup program.

Disk Space Usage

The amount of hard drive space that System Restore uses can and does vary. Starting from Windows XP, the amount of space allocated to System Restore is by default set to around 10% of hard drive space, this means, the amount of allocated space varies depending on hard drive volume.

When the allocated space is exceeded, the operating system reallocates the already occupied space to new restore points. This means, the number of actual restore points will vary also.

That said it is possible for you to disable System Restore, in the event that you need to regain or conserve hard disk space.

What Is a Restore Point?

A restore point is basically a representation of your computers system files in a stored state. Restore points are created automatically, either on a weekly basis or when a dramatic change has occurred on your computer, such as the installation of a hardware device.

What Is A System Image?

A system image is basically an exact copy of your hard disc drive. A system image will come with everything that is required for Windows to operate, by default. It will also include all the personal data, applications and configuration settings. System images come most in handy, when a computer stops booting up, due to a software fault.

When you choose to restore your computer using a system image, it will restore the computer entirely, thus prohibiting you from picking and choosing what aspects of the operating system you want to recover.

Although a system image will also include your personal files, it’s highly recommended that you backup your personal data regularly, using some kind of specialised software. Windows Backup is capable of doing this, individuals can configure this tool to backup the computer at regularly individuals, i.e. once a week or month.

System Restore Availability

System Restore is a feature available on Windows Me/XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 and 10 based systems.

Depending on your version of Windows, System Restore is also accessible in a number of different ways.

That said System Restore is neither available nor accessible on Microsoft Windows Server.

Using System Restore

The quickest and most convenient way to access System Restore is through System Tools on the Windows Start Menu. Operation is fairly simple, as everything is represented through a step-by-step wizard. That said, to restore your system back to an earlier state, simply do the following:

1. First, boot into your computer of course, using a User Profile with full administrative rights.

2. Then click on the Start button (in the bottom right hand corner), then type Restore, into the Search programs and files box, and click on System Restore, from the Results.

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3. For Windows XP Users, simply click on Start -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore.

4. Once System Restore loads up, simply click on Next.

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5. Then select a Restore Point (from amongst the list) and click on Next.

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Note: Click on Show more restore points, to show a more expansive list of restore points on your computer.

6. Lastly, click on Finish, to confirm.

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Once System Restore has finished restoring your computer, it will restart.


–This article is written by Uchenna Ani-Okoye