Understanding System Restore
System Restore performs the following tasks:
Restores your computer to a previous state
System Restore automatically tracks changes to your computer at all times and at specific intervals by creating restore points before changes occur. Restore points are stored states of your computer.
You can also manually create restore points to record your computer state and settings before you make changes to your computer. This allows you to restore the computer to a previous state, by choosing a restore point on a date or time prior to when you made the change.
For example, if you accidentally delete monitored program files (such as files that have the .exe or .dll file name extensions), or monitored program files become corrupted, you can restore your computer to a state that existed before those changes occurred.
By default, System Restore monitors and restores all partitions and drives on your computer. It also monitors all installations of applications or drivers that users perform through delivery mechanisms such as CD-ROM, floppy disk, Systems Management Server (SMS), or IntelliMirror.
In some rare instances, during the restoration process System Restore restores a folder that has the same name as an existing folder. To avoid writing over the existing file, System Restore renames the folder by adding a numeric suffix to the name.
Restores your computer without losing your personal files
System Restore does not cause you to lose your personal files or password. Items like documents, e-mail messages, browsing history, and the last specified password are saved when you revert to an earlier state with System Restore.
System Restore protects your personal files by not restoring any files in the My Documents folder. It also does not restore any files that use common data file name extensions, such as .doc or .xls. If you're not sure whether your personal files use common data file name extensions, and you do not want the data files to be affected by System Restore, save them in the My Documents folder.
If a program was installed after the restore point that you are restoring to was created, the program might be uninstalled as part of the restoration process. Data files that are created with the program are not lost. However, in order to open the files again, you must reinstall the associated program.
Stores one to three weeks of past restore points
The actual number of saved restore points depends on how much activity there has been on your computer, the size of your hard disk (or the partition that contains your Windows XP Professional folder), and how much disk space has been allocated on your computer to store System Restore information. See To change System Restore settings
Locates dates associated with restore points
When you run System Restore, a calendar is displayed to help you find dates associated with restore points. If you don't use your computer every day, some days might not have any restore points. If you use your computer frequently, you might have restore points almost every day, and some days might have several restore points.
Ensures that all restorations are reversible
If you do not like the state of your computer after your restore it, you can undo the restoration or select another restore point. All successful restorations are reversible. All failed restorations are automatically reversed by System Restore.
Provides several types of restore points
The list below describes each type of restore point and how System Restore works with each type.
Initial System checkpoints
This restore point is created the first time you start your computer after you upgrade it to Windows XP Professional or when you first start a new computer. Selecting this restore point reverts Windows XP Professional and programs to the state they were in at that time. All files with data file name extensions (such as .doc, .htm, .xls, etc.) and all files in the My Documents folder are not restored.
If System Restore must remove all old restore points to make room for new changes, a new restore point is created and restore points creation resumes from that time.
System Restore creates restore points on a regular basis even if you have not made any changes to the system. System Restore automatically creates these restore points:
If your computer is turned off for more than 24 hours, System Restore creates a restore point the next time you start the computer. The computer must be idle for a few minutes before System Restore creates a scheduled restore point.
Selecting a scheduled restore point restores Windows XP Professional and programs to the state they were in at that time. Any files with data file name extensions (such as .doc, .htm, .xls, etc.) and all files in the My Documents folder are not restored.
Program name installation restore points
When you install a program by using the latest installers such as InstallShield and Windows XP Professional Installer, System Restore creates a restore point. Use these restore points to track changes made to your system or to restore your computer to the state it was in before you installed the program.
Selecting this restore point removes installed files and registry settings, and restores programs and system files that were altered by the installation. Any files with data file name extensions (such as .doc, .htm, .xls, etc.) and all files in the My Documents folder are not restored.
To revert the changes made by a program that does not use one of the specified installers, select the most recent restore point before the program was installed.
Windows XP Professional automatic update restore points
If you use Windows XP Professional automatic updates to receive downloaded updates, System Restore creates a restore point before installing the updating software. If items are downloaded, but not installed, a restore point is not created. A restore point is created only when the components start to install. Use these points to track changes you made to your system or if these updates might conflict with other products on your computer.
Manually created restore points
You can manually create your own restore points in the System Restore Wizard. When a created restore point is listed in the Select a restore point screen, it includes the name you gave it and is prefaced with the day, date and time it was created. You can create a restore point when you like the way your computer is functioning or before you make changes on your computer, like installing programs, that might make your computer function differently.
Restore operation restore points
Each time you perform a restoration, it is a change made to your computer. System Restore creates restore operation restore points to track the change and the restoration. You can select these restore operation restore points in the Select a restore point screen in the System Restore Wizard to undo the restoration.
Unsigned device driver restore points
System Restore immediately creates a restore point if it detects that you are installing a driver to your computer that has not been signed or certified by Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). If the installation of the driver makes undesirable changes to your computer, you can select these restore points in the Select a restore point screen in the System Restore Wizard to undo the changes and restore your computer to the state that existed before you installed the driver.
Microsoft Backup utility recovery restore points
When you perform a recovery using the Backup utility, System Restore immediately creates a restore point before the process starts. If the recovery puts your computer in an undesirable state, you can select these restore points in the Select a restore point screen in the System Restore Wizard to undo the changes and restore your computer to the state that existed before you performed the recovery.