Windows

How do I... Create and use System Restore in Windows Vista

No matter how careful you are, when it comes to installing drivers and applications in Windows Vista there are just going to be times when you need to perform a system restore. This brief step-by-step tutorial shows you how to create a restore point and then use it to return a working Vista configuration.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic download and as a TechRepublic gallery.

In many ways, Microsoft Windows Vista is more sophisticated then Windows XP and the other versions of Windows that came before. However, in many ways, Windows Vista is also very similar to the preceding versions of Microsoft's operating system. These similarities are particularly evident when you start working with drivers for peripherals.

On occasion (and many would say more often then it should) the Windows Vista operating system will get corrupted by a bad driver install or some other installation mishap. When this occurs, the best solution is often to restore the OS to a previous non-corrupted state. The easiest way to accomplish this is using the built-in System Restore feature of Windows Vista itself.

The procedures are similar to what they were in Windows XP, but there are some differences to consider.

Create a system restore point

One of the more useful features of Windows Vista is the several different ways you can navigate to screens and applets in the operating system. To reach the System screen in the Control Panel, you can type "system" into the desktop search box and select it from the list that is returned (See Figure A) or you can open the Control Panel and then click the System icon (See Figure B). Either way you should end up with the screen shown in Figure C. (Note, you could also right-click the Computer icon on the desktop and click properties on the resulting menu.)

Figure A

Desktop search

Figure B

Select System from Control Panel

Figure C

System information

Click the System protection link on this page (Figure C) to get to the System Protection Tab of the System Properties applet (Figure D).

Figure D

System Protection Tab

On this tab you basically have two options: Create a restore point or restore from a previously saved one. Click the Create button to get to Figure E. Type in a description so you can recognize this restore point later on and click OK. Depending on your system, this could take a few minutes to complete.

Figure E

Create a restore point

Perform a system restore

To restore system files and settings from a previously saved point you would click the System Restore button on the System Protection Tab on the System Properties applet (Figure D). This starts the System Restore wizard as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

System Restore wizard

Clicking the Next button takes you to a list of possible restore points (Figure G). Note that Windows Vista periodically creates system restore points as a normal part of its operation.

Figure G

A list of restore points

Choose on of these points and click Next. The next screen (Figure H) will confirm your choice and remind you to close programs and files.

Figure H

Last chance to cancel â€" be sure you are ready

This is your last chance to cancel the process. Once the restore process begins you will have to let it run its course, which can take several minutes. Your Vista PC will have to reboot to complete the process. When it is completed your PC will restart with system files restored to the condition they were in at your chosen restore point.

Meantime

Creating a system restore point before you load new or beta drivers for one of your peripherals can save you time and headaches if that driver happens to crash the system to an unbootable state. Some misbehaving applications can cause the same problem. Although we would all love to see the day where establishing system restore points is not necessary, that day is not here yet. This system restore process is a basic safeguard you should take advantage of just in case something goes wrong.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

15 comments
Ary Tandy
Ary Tandy

Dear Sirs or Madams, Thanks very much to accept my proposals as a new members. I am very low about IT especially in system restore. Hope that you can help me to increase it ! Yours Sincerely, Ary Tandy

usfinest1
usfinest1

I followed the steps but got this message "Windows connot create a shadow copy due to internal error in other system components. For more info view the event log. (0x81000109)". Can some please help? I am lost!

oyetong
oyetong

My Pc recently had some recovery problems after been accidentally shut down. The OS(C:)(system) is not found when I attempted to restore the system to a previous date. What do I need to do?

dudley6
dudley6

I GET CANNOT MAKE RESTORE POINT ERROR Ox80070005

mkjacksen
mkjacksen

I think I need to "restore" my laptop but when I get to the "system restore" option I get a window asking me to name the computer before it even takes me to "system properties" window... What the hell???!!!

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

This is computer anarchy.My computer says "NO" and I'm stuck.If my computer were a human I'd be walking away.

mrfixitct
mrfixitct

The article mentions "Creating a system restore point before you load new or beta drivers for one of your peripherals can save you time and headaches if that driver happens to crash the system to an unbootable state." However it falls short of stating how to perform a restore from an unbootable condition. I'd like to know this process as well..

artdude
artdude

I would love to see Vista adopt a true automated restore point. Assuming that only a limited number of files are change, added, or removed, during an install, it would be easy for Vista to monitor these changes. The next logical step would be to backup those components before they are changed. Thus, in the event of problems, it would give the user the option to restore the system automatically with a single click. All that would be needed is a quick backup of any single registry changes, a backup of any files that are changed, and a quick index log of events in order of occurrence. The final option will be an "Un-Do" feature like one in most applications today. As an additional option, the user could choose to set a complete restore point prior to installation. All these options would be determined early in the setup of the installation wizard.

findmebythewaterside
findmebythewaterside

first of all close all programs, then restart your comp/laptop as soon as u log onto ADMINISTARTAOR you do as the site says!! then when you get to custome time make it three days before you laptop/comp was first made (as in when the namufactores turned it on) then use that. :) PEACE IT WILL WORK I DONE IT!!! have a good one dude xx

findmebythewaterside
findmebythewaterside

what in the F*** Are u a monkey by the name of zooonan or abagrfettie? i found you dead by the waterside, this dark night, aloone i waite!!! 4 you, youre computer says it loves you??????

jay
jay

Two years of using my MAC and I am not even sure it has a backup utility, or if anyone makes one. Why is it I need to perform a backup of Vista every day, and then find out the same utility can not be used to restore? I can not believe we have to pay money for software that isn't even stable enough to use. Linux is free and works, but Vista is the most expensive and doesn't do %50 of what it advertises.

hatran999
hatran999

To perform a restore from an unbootable condition, you'll need to boot from the Windows Vista DVD. You'll then see two Install Windows screens, select your language in the first and then select the Repair your computer option in the second. When you get to the Windows Recovery Environment screen, select SYSTEM RESTORE option and follow the prompts to restore your system.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Thanks for coming to my rescue. I have also had success in some instances by booting into safe mode and restoring from there.

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