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System Restore - The Big Undo

System Restore is the ultimate band-aid fix for buggy Microsoft Windows. If you make a hardware or software change to your Windows Me or Windows XP system, and then it doesn't work right, System Restore acts like a giant "undo".

For System Restore to work, you need a "restore point" to go back to. A restore point saves a copy of the registry, drivers, and crucial operating system files. The files are saved as compressed .cab files in a folder named _RESTORE/ARCHIVE.

System Restore monitors all partitions on your computer (Windows XP lets you select which drives to monitor) and automatically creates restore points. The actual number of restore points saved depends on how much disk space has been allocated for System Restore. System Restore will not run if your system has less than 200 MB of free space.

Types of Restore Points

System Check Points: Scheduled restore points created by Windows. System Restore automatically creates a restore point every 10 hours (if your computer is on). Your computer must be idle for a few minutes before a restore point can be created.

Manual Restore Points: Just before you make a hardware or software change to your system, you can maually create a restore point.

Installation Restore Points: Restore points created by an installation program. Not all installation programs create a restore point.

Make sure System Restore is enabled

1. Select Start | Settings | Control Panel and open System Utility.

2. On the Performance tab, click on the [File System] button. The "File System Properties" dialog box appears.

3. In the File System Properties" dialog box select the "Troubleshooting" tab.

4. On the "Troubleshooting" tab, make sure the "Disable System Restore" checkbox is not checked.

To Create a Restore Point

1. Select Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore. The "Wecome to System Restore" window will appear.

2. In the "Welcome to System Restore" window, set the "Create Restore Point" radio button. Then click in the [Next] button. The "Create Restore Point" window will appear.

3. In the "Create Restore Point" window, enter a name for your restore point. For example, "Before Modem Upgrade". Then click on the [Next] button.

4. After a period of disk activity, the "Confirm New Restore Point" window will appear displaying the date and name of your restore point. Click on the [OK] button.

Restoring Your System

You made a hardware or software change to your system, and now it doesn't work right. If Windows won't start, press the F8 key while your computer is starting. The "Startup Menu" should appear. In the Startup Menu select "Safe Mode". In safe mode, or if Windows does start, select Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore.

The "Welcome to System Restore" window will appear. Click on the [Next] button. On the "Choose a Restore Point" page, click on a restore point to highlight it. If there are no restore points listed, click on the [back arrow] button on the calendar until you find the most recent restore point. Then click on the [Next] button. System Restore restores your system to the state it was in at the restore point you selected and then restarts your computer.

Note: System Restore does not undo any changes that you made to files you created with your applications. If a restore doesn't work, you can undo it, and select a different restore point.

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