Microsoft

How do I recover my system in Windows XP using System Restore?

Windows XP is bundled with a cool feature called System Restore. It allows System Administrators to restore XP computers to a previous state without losing the following files: Email, Favorites, My Documents, and Cookies.

Oh no! Your computer just crashed after you downloaded and installed the latest video card driver for your system. Don’t sweat it. Windows XP is bundled with a cool feature called System Restore. It allows system administrators to restore XP computers to a previous state without losing the following files: Email, Favorites, My Documents, and Cookies. It does this by monitoring changes in your files and folders and taking a snapshot of your system at regular intervals. Once a problem with your system is encountered, you can restore the system to a previous point and roll back your system files and registry to a point in time when the operating system was working. In this post, we will discuss how to configure your System Restore options and how to restore to a previous point in time.

System Restore 101

This new feature in Windows XP runs in the background as a service. It constantly logs changes to your system in C:\WINDOWS\System32\Restore (Figure A). In addition to this constant logging, System Restore takes regular snapshots of your system state, which includes the following: User Accounts and System Settings.

FigureA

Figure A

For example, you have recently installed a new device driver and a warning message is displayed that tells you this driver is not supported with XP or is unsigned. You continue with the installation anyway, and as soon as you choose to continue, the System Restore feature creates a restore point automatically so you can restore the system if for some reason it crashes. Restore points are also created when you install or upgrade to Windows XP or when you install any update patches off the Windows Update web site.

By default, System Restore will create a restore point every 24 hours. If this is a machine that is left on all the time, you can count on this happening once every 24 hours. If you shut down the machine and restart it, a restore point is created at boot-up as long as one has not been created in the last 24 hours.

You can adjust this time frame in the registry. Simply open Regedit from a command prompt and browse to Hkey Local Machine\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SystemRestore (Figure B.). Once you are there, change the RPGlobalInterval from its default setting of 86,400 seconds to the appropriate amount (86,400 seconds is 24 hours). In addition, Restore points are deleted every 90 days. To change this value, adjust the RPLifeInterval from 7,776,000 to an appropriate value (7,776,000 is 90 days).

FigureB

Figure B

You can also specify a protected location in the registry that the System Restore will normally overwrite.

1. Open the Regedit and browse to Hkey Local Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\BackupRestore\FilesNotToBackup.

2. Right-click and select New | Multi-String Value.

3. Specify a Name of the location that System Restore won’t restore to a previous point.

4. Double-click the new value and enter the appropriate path that you want protected from System Restore (Figure C).

FigureC

Figure C

Configuring System Restore

Before using the System Restore functionality, you should become familiar with how you can configure your options for optimal performance. You can access the System Restore options by opening Control Panel | Performance and Maintenance | System | System Restore tab (Figure D).

FigureD

Figure D

Note: If you are using the classic view, open Control Panel | System.

In Figure D, you can turn off the System Restore feature completely or specify the amount of disk space for System Restore to use. The System Restore feature uses a maximum of 12 percent of your disk space by default. This can take up quite a bit of your hard drive space, so plan accordingly before changing this setting.

Manual restore points

At any time if you feel it is necessary, you can create a manual restore point. You must have administrative access to perform this function. This can be done by performing the following:

1. Open Help and Support from the Start menu.

2. Select Undo Changes to Your Computer with System Restore (Figure E) and the Welcome to the System Restore window will appear (Figure F).

3. Choose the Create a Restore Point radio button and click Next (Figure G).

4. Enter a Restore Point Description and click Create (Figure H). The restore point is created (Figure I).

5. Click Home.

FigureE

Figure E

FigureF

Figure F

FigureG

Figure G

FigureH

Figure H

FigureI

Figure I

Restoring your computer

In the event of a crash or any other incident that leaves your computer in a state of non-bliss, you can quickly restore your computer by performing the following:

  1. Open Help and Support from the Start menu.
  2. Select Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time and click Next.
  3. Select a restore point by highlighting a day in the calendar and choosing the appropriate checkpoint (Figure J). Click Next.
  4. Review your Selected Restore Point (Figure K) and click Next. This will shut down your computer and restore your computer to an earlier point in time.

FigureJ

Figure J

FigureK

Figure K

Note: You can undo your latest restore by following the same procedure and selecting Undo My Last Restoration (Figure L).

FigureL

Figure L

In this article we have discussed the various ways you can easily recover your system in the event of a crash. We also provided you with some basic configuration knowledge to quickly and easily configure System Restore to work optimally on your system. The System Restore feature is a powerful tool that will help you run Windows XP without a glitch.

24 comments
Larry Hoezee
Larry Hoezee

A worthy article for those with a Windows XP OS. Tech Republic has many good informative and interesting articles!

PurpleSkys
PurpleSkys

The 'Discussion' forum is for matters of general discussion, not specific problems in search of a solution. The 'Water Cooler' is for non-technical discussions. You can submit a question to 'Q&A' here: http://www.techrepublic.com/forum/questions/post?tag=mantle_skin;content There are TR members who specifically seek out problems in need of a solution. Although there is some overlap between the forums, you'll find more of those members in 'Q&A' than in 'Discussions' or 'Water Cooler'. Be sure to use the voting buttons to provide your feedback. Voting a '+' does not necessarily mean that a given response contained the complete solution to your problem, but that it served to guide you toward it. This is intended to serve as an aid to those who may in the future have a problem similar to yours. If they have a ready source of reference available, perhaps won't need to repeat questions previously asked and answered. If a post did contain the solution to your problem, you can also close the question by marking the helpful post as "The Answer". .

tcpalka
tcpalka

I recently was trying to download files from my phone to my desktop when there was a powersurge that shut everything down abruptly. When I tried to restart, my desktop noiw gives me an error stating Windows is not found and I cannot go anyfurther even trying to reset default factory settings and going through dos... any suggestions?

trucoltsfan2818
trucoltsfan2818

how to restore a corrupted hard drive anyone have any suggestion please let me no please and thank you

unyuns
unyuns

After HP laptop crashed due to missing files, I used boot disk to get going again. System restore no longer works even a for previous day. How do I re-install system restore or how do I make it function as it should?

robertchapps
robertchapps

Windows XP much better than Vista, no calender in Vista, why?

LTWISDAL
LTWISDAL

Rarely has System Restore worked on my Dell 8400 Desktop. Shows you a lot of dates in bold, click it on, wait for it to restore, only to end up with constant message "Unable to restore, select another." Ran thru 3 weeks of dates, same result. Very time consuming, very annoying. IT experts here ran into same problem trying to get it to work. It will restore to an earlier hour, not date. Reinstalled Windows XP, SP3, and a load of programs end result. ltw@gmu.edu/3/909

diddleupdrs
diddleupdrs

My Xp isn't configured like the example below: Hkey Local Machine\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SystemRestore It's layed out in this order: Hkey Local Machine\Software\Micro Soft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SystemRestore

dhoward
dhoward

I tried followed your instructions below and I never got far. I do not have WindowsNT after Hkey Local Machine/. My operating system is Windows XP Media Centre Edition, 2002, SP2 Is there another way? Quote:You can adjust this time frame in the registry. Simply open Regedit from a command prompt and browse to Hkey Local Machine\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SystemRestore (Figure B.). Once you are there, change the RPGlobalInterval from its default setting of 86,400 seconds to the appropriate amount (86,400 seconds is 24 hours). In addition, Restore points are deleted every 90 days. To change this value, adjust the RPLifeInterval from 7,776,000 to an appropriate value (7,776,000 is 90 days).

jbaker
jbaker

How about fixing problems from the recovery console? I know how to access it, but never really knew what to do once I'm there.

cae
cae

Restoring Windows XP

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

I have tried this System Restore and I suspect that it will restore some registry values taken at the last snapshot.The problem would have to be a problem that would be fixed with this type of restore.I erase the drive and restore the entire OS with a restore program.With this method the OS,all drivers and software are restored.

derek
derek

I find system restore only works about 1 out of 10 times I try it. In most cases Windows returns an error that says "your system was unable to be restored," with no explanation. I still try it as a last resort before wiping, but it so rarely works. Anyone know the things that keep it from running?

flood_specialist
flood_specialist

I'd like to know that procedure without reloading....anybody out there care to touch this one????

mirossmac2
mirossmac2

Why would anything from Microsoft need a calender - are not all its programs already smooth enough and glazed enough?

RandyM55
RandyM55

Rt Click My Computer > Properties >System Restore Tab (make sure turn off System Restore on all drives is not checked)> Then go into Drive Settings and make sure all of your drives are monitored. This setting has saved my butt many times over the years. One tip that people forget...IF you get a virus or trojan, to really get rid of it all, turn off monitoring all your Drives > reboot > turn on monitoring all your drives again. That gets rid of all the bad stuff that was hiding on you. Good Luck, Randy

derek
derek

We use the big three of repairs on Recovery console. Many boot errors can be fixed this way. Inaccessible boot device, boot looping and some boot blue screens can be resolved. Boot to recovery console and do the following: c:\chkdsk /p that runs checkdisk and fixes disk errors, some systems it is a different switch. Then do a c:\fixboot c: Then do a c:\fixmbr I have found that doing one of those three will fix a lot of the boot issues, if you are going to take the time to boot to recovery console and do one, then you might as well do all three. On a drive with issues be warned CHKDSK might take a long time to run. Listen for disk activity to be assured it hasn't locked up if the percentage complete hasn't changed in a while. I would love to hear other recovery console tricks! D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That's high enough for me to make it the first recovery tool I try. It's easy and doesn't take much time, so I figure with a 50/50 chance it's worth a shot.

scratchbaker
scratchbaker

I installed a trial version of Powerpoint 2007 on an XP machine and set a manual restore point beforehand. When I uninstalled the trial, it hosed my machine. I did a restore and everything worked. It was fast, easy, and saved my butzky. I have used it at least once since, including unrestoring a restore and then changing my mind back, with complete success.

nepenthe0
nepenthe0

Derek's post invokes the concept expressed by the French phrase 'deja vu' - loosely translated as sailing back through time and re-experiencing some event. System Restore simply fails a significant percentage of the time. One cannot trust it. I use Norton Ghost (Symantec) to regularly create [i]image[/i] files to an external hard drive: http://tinyurl.com/5s7gw8 That way, should I be unable to [i]restore[/i] to a restore point, I can recover a good working configuration in

IC-IT
IC-IT

just turn it off. Check for malware. Turn it on again (although it wouldn't hurt to defrag first).

kjcarter
kjcarter

The big three did not work, chkdsk /p only 1% comleted the volume appeirs to contain one or more unrecoverable problems. fixboot c: boot sector cannot be fixed. fixmbr disk may be damaged what can I do now???

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