Using System Restore in Windows XP

This tutorial will explain the System Restore feature of Windows XP, and how to use it. System Restore lets you “revert” your computer to a previous date if a problem occurs. To do this, System Restore constantly monitors your PC looking for changes to the operating system, such as an application or driver installation, and then automatically creates a restore point when it detects a change. Because these snapshots are comprised primarily of required system files, it’s very much worth noting that System Restore does NOT back up or save your documents (including emails, bookmarks, passwords, spreadsheets etc). If you were hoping System Restore could help you retrieve a lost document, you’re sadly out of luck..

With that said, System Restore will not delete or overwrite any of your documents either. If you use System Restore to revert your operating system to a previous date, any of the documents you’ve created or saved will still be there once you have completed the restore (with one exception; the Desktop is not a “protected” folder – any files you have saved on your desktop you should move to your My Documents folder before running a Restore).

System Restore needs at least 200MB of disk space to function. By default, it will use up to 12% of your hard drive, although this percentage is changeable.

View and change your System Restore Settings
Use System Restore to load an earlier snapshot of Windows XP
Undoing a System Restore


View and change your System Restore Settings

To view and/or change your current System Restore settings, follow the instructions outlined below:

  1. Select Start and then Control Panel
  2. Select Performance and Maintenance in the Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Click the System Restore tab

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  6. From here you can change the amount of disk space allocated to System Restore by moving the slider to the left, or disable System Restore entirely by placing a check mark in the box labeled Turn off System Restore

Use System Restore to load an earlier snapshot of Windows XP

  1. Click Start, select All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and then System Restore
  2. Make sure that Restore my computer to an earlier time is selected, and click Next to continue

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  4. Use the calendar to find a restore point. If the day you selected has more than one restore point available, select the one you wish to use from the right-side list. Click Next to continue

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  6. Review the information provided on this screen – this is your last chance to cancel or change the restore point. When you’re ready, click Next to continue

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  8. Your PC will now restart
  9. Once Windows starts again, you’ll be presented with a confirmation screen letting you know that the restore was successful (or not).

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  11. If using System Restore did not resolve the problem that caused you to use it in the first place, keep reading to undo that restore. You may also want to consider choosing an earlier restore point (as the one you just used may have included whatever problem you were trying to resolve).

Undoing a System Restore

  1. If you need to undo a restoration, launch System Restore again, and this time select Undo my last restoration

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  3. Review the provided information and click Next to undo your last restoration

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  5. Your computer will restart.
  6. Once Windows starts again, you’ll be presented with a confirmation screen letting you know that the restore was successful (or not).

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