Thursday, August 12, 2010

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Using Windows System Restore

Microsoft OSs have typically included utilities that help you recover systems that become unstable or crash, but Windows System Restore goes much further. System Restore reinstates the registry, local profiles, the COM+ database, the Windows File Protection (WFP) cache (wfp.dll), the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) database, the Microsoft IIS metabase, and files that the utility copies by default into a Restore archive. You can't specify what to restore: it's all or nothing.

Understanding System Restore
System Restore's purpose is to return your system to a workable state without requiring a complete reinstallation and without compromising your data files. The utility runs in the background and automatically creates a restore point when a trigger event occurs. Trigger events include application installations, AutoUpdate installations, Microsoft Backup Utility recoveries, unsigned- driver installations, and manual creations of restore points. The utility also creates restore points once a day by default.

System Restore requires 200MB of free hard disk space, which the utility uses to create a data store. If you don't have 200MB of free space, System Restore remains disabled until the space becomes available, at which point the utility enables itself. System Restore uses a first in/first out (FIFO) storage scheme: The utility purges old archives to make room for new ones when the data store reaches a set limit.

The file types that System Restore monitors are many but include most of the extensions that you typically see when you install new software (e.g., .cat, .com, .dll, .exe, .inf, .ini, .msi, .ole, .sys). Note that only application installations that use a System Restore restorept.api-compliant installer will trigger the creation of a restore point.

Typically, system recoveries are easiest when you know *or think you know* what caused the problem (e.g., a recently installed device driver). In some cases, System Restore might not be the best choice for correcting a problem you're experiencing. System Restore changes many different files and registry entries, and in some cases might replace too much and actually cause more problems than it solves. 
For example, say you install Office XP, which triggers System Restore to create a restore point, and the software suite works great. Later in the day, you download and install an updated video driver, and because the driver is signed, the installation doesn't trigger System Restore to create a restore point. Now your system hangs on occasion, and you believe that the video driver is the culprit. In this case, you should use the Device Driver Rollback utility because it will address the device-driver problem only and not change anything else on your system.
System Restore would roll your computer back to a preOffice XP state, and you would have to reinstall the entire software suite after you resolved the driver problem.

Creating a Restore Point
Windows automatically creates restore points when you would typically need them most. However, occasions arise when you might want to create restore points manually*for example, if you're installing an application that you're not sure will be stable on Windows XP, if you're unsure whether an application is System Restore restorept.api-compliant, or if you're making system changes that could affect the system's stability.

Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. A Welcome screen appeared, and System Restore asked whether you wanted to restore or create a restore point. Chose Create a restore point and clicked Next. Name your restore point and clicked Create.
System Restore: Welcome Screen
Name restore points so that you can easily identify them later. After the utility collected all the information it needed, it displayed the Restore Point Created screen, Close the utility to end the process.
Having created a restore point,  you could try installing any new software on  your Windows machine with the confidence of knowing that you could restore your system if anything went wrong. 
Restoring a System
Start The System Restore utility as told before. At the Welcome screen, Chose Restore my computer to an earlier time, then click Next. To prompt you to select a restore point, the utility will present the various options in a calendar format, which Figure  below shows. The calendar format lets you click through dates and see the existing restore points. Restore points that System Restore creates appear as System Checkpoint.
Click on the date your system worked fine for the lat time or the restore point if you  had created earlier and click Next, then confirm the restore point selection and click Next again. System Restore will close all programs and proceeded with the restoration. The computer will then reboot. And when you log back in, you will see the Restoration Complete screen to let you know the restore was finished and had succeeded.

Check your the hard disk for the files that you created between installing and restoring  your system. All your data files will be safe, and the system will be stable again.
If your system no longer boots to the OS, start the computer and press the F8 key as Windows begins to run. When the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, choose Last Known Good Configuration and press Enter. If the damage isn't too bad, a boot menu will appear, and you can select Microsoft Windows XP, then press Enter. Windows XP will restore the computer to the most recent restore point.
If a restoration fails to resolve a problem, System Restore lets you try to select another restore point or undo the restoration. So, if you chose the wrong restore point earlier, you get a chance to correct your mistake. Remember, performing a restore is one of the events that triggers the system to create a restore point. Now you know why.

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About bench3 -

Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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