Windows 7 recovery & backup guide System Restore in Windows 7
When your computer experiences a bad crash or a major software problem, you'd really like to simply turn back time a bit to before it happened.
You can, with Windows 7 (as well as Windows Vista and XP). Using the Windows' System Restore tool it is possible to:
- create restore points - a set time and date to which you can restore your PC
- return system files and programs to the state they were in at the selected restore point
- see which files have been removed or added after the restore
Setting up System Restore
Before you start using System Restore, it is important that you have closed all running programs and saved all open files. Once a restore point is set, your computer will also automatically restart itself, so only start this process when you are ready.
Step 1 - Create a restore point
Click on the Start button, scroll up to Computer, and right-click on it.
Then select Properties in the pop-up menu that appears.
This will open the System Properties window, in which you can find all the basic information you will need.
Click on the System protection link in the left pane.
In the dialog box that opens, click on the System Protection tab, and then click Create.
Step 2 - Label your restore point
Enter a description such as 'Restore point May 19, 2010' in the System Protection dialog box, then click Create. A restore point will now be automatically created and your computer will then restart.
Once restarted, you can use your computer as normal. Now, if in the future you encounter a problem, it is possible to return your computer to the state it was in when you created a particular restore point.
System Restore only affects Windows 7 files such as system files, programs and other settings.
It does not affect your personal data such as email, photos and documents.
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Using System Restore to recover your computer
If you notice something going wrong with your computer, and you want to use a system restore point, how do you know the right one to pick?
Typically, System Restore will recommend the most recently created restore point, but you can also select one dated before the time and date that you first noticed a problem.
Make good use of the restore point description (detailed above), by labelling the restore point with meaningful information before you do something significant to your PC.
Step 1 - Use a restore point
Click on the Start button, then choose All programs and navigate to Accessories.
Then click on System Tools in the Accessories menu.
Click on System Restore, then click Next in the Restore system files and settings window.
You may have to enter your administrator password at this point.
Step 2 - Start system restore
From the menu that appears, choose the restore point you'd like to return your computer to, such as the state it was in when you created the restore point 'Restore point May 19, 2010'.
Click Next, then click Finish on the Confirm your restore point window to begin restoring your computer. Click Yes on the 'Once started, System Restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue?' message.
It may take several minutes, but Windows 7 will be restored to the state it was in at the restore point you selected. Once done, your computer will shut down and restart.
Can I reverse the changes System Restore makes?
If you accidently use a restore point that you didn't mean to, don't worry. System Restore automatically creates a second restore point.
Use this to rewind your computer back to the point just before you used a restore point by mistake
To undo a restore point, click on the Start button, then choose All programs and navigate to Accessories, then System Tools in the menu. Click on System Restore. You may have to enter your administrator password.
Click Undo System Restore, and then click Next. If you're happy with your decision, click Finish and the restore point you accidently created will be erased
Storing System restore points
System restore points don't have a sell-by date, and are saved until the space allocated on your hard drive for keeping restore points is used up.
If it runs out of space, the newest restore points will automatically overwrite the oldest restore points.
If you can't see your restore point, tick the Show more restore points tick box to see more than just the most recent restore points.
Find out how to fix over 100 common Windows 7 problems in our book PC Problem Solving Made Easy.
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