In light of the recent troubles many TechRepublic members have been having with the installation of Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, I thought it might be a good time to revisit some of the concepts behind the System Restore feature of Windows XP.

System Restore runs in the background and periodically records the state of the OS at a specific point in time. Theoretically, you can return your operating system to that recorded point, which presumably is a point where the operating system was working properly. This restoration can take you back to a time before a driver, application, malware, or other recent installation corrupted the operating system.

Steven Warren wrote a “How Do I…” on Windows XP System Restore in June 2008 that explains how it works, how you can use System Restore to create a restoration point manually, and how an actual restoration process plays out.

If you have been wrestling with a bad install of Internet Explorer 8, this may be an option to consider.

Note: System Restore in Windows Vista is similar to this process but different enough to warrant its own blog post. Look for the Vista version in a later post.

Also, System Restore may be turned off via Group Policy, so the feature may be missing on some enterprise PCs.