April 7, 2009

Using System Restore

Windows XP and Vista (and Windows 7 when it is released later this year) have a feature known as System Restore. This functions as a kind of "mini backup", saving some critical functions that can be corrupted when you install or configure software and hardware.

As an example, I recently installed a free firewall software package for testing on my home Vista computer. It got hung up during install and I had to force a reboot of the computer. I found that I had no keyboard. I was able to reboot and force a restore point to be loaded. Voila! Same thing happened to me at work. I installed a program to make my XP Pro program tool bar look like the new Windows 7 format. Completely messed up the toolbar, rendering it useless. I finally ended up restoring a restore point and I was back to work in a couple of minutes.

Two things I recommend w.r.t. restore points:
  1. Configure it to use a lot less space. The default is something like 10% of the total disk space allocated. This is ridiculous. I don't need 30GB of space wasted like that.
  2. Periodically, eliminate all but the most recent Restore point. When the system is stable for a while, create a new restore point and then delete all but the most recent. This is done via the Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup. Select the More options page.

One of the best explanations I've seen of this function is by Steven Warren in a Tech republic article. Well worth reading...

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=708

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