Working With System Restore in Windows Vista

Just like Microsoft Windows XP, the System Restore utility has been included in Windows Vista to enable you to roll back your PC to a previously known good working condition. The system restore process does not make any changes to your personal files, such as your documents, presentation, worksheets, and Internet favorites. The process just reverts the changes in the system configuration and removes any programs installed after the time when the restore point you are reverting to was created. By default, the System Restore utility continuously monitors your system and automatically creates restore points periodically. The utility also provides the option to create manual restore points.

Enable and Disable System Restore

By default, the System Restore utility is enabled on your Windows Vista computer. If you want to disable the utility, open the System Properties dialog box by selecting System from the Control Panel, and then open the System Protection tab. On this tab, clear the check boxes of the drive(s) on which you want to disable system restore. A message will display Are you sure you want to turn System restore off, select the Turn System restore off button to disable System Restore for the specific drive.

In Windows Vista, at least 300 MB of space is required to save each restore point and you can allot up to 15% of space on each hard disk drive with System Restore enabled. The number of restore points that can exist on the system depends on the drive space you allot to the utility and the amount and frequency of changes to be saved.

Create Restore Points

There are several activities due to which a restore point is created automatically on your system. Some of these activities are:

  • When you start your system for the first time after installation.
  • After every 24 calendar or computer uptime hours.
  • When a new application is installed by using the InstallShield or Windows Installer utilities.
  • Before an automatic Windows update.
  • Before performing a system restore.
  • When unsigned drivers are installed on the system.
  • Before restoring from a backup.

Although automatic restore points are created for several activities, there are some activities that do not trigger automatic system restore. For instance, if you are installing an application that does not use InstallShield or Windows Installer for installation, no automatic restore point will be created. Therefore, in such situations, you will have to create a manual restore point.

To create a manual restore, on the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box, select the Create button. Enter a name that describes the reason for creating the restore point, and the select Create. Finally, select OK to complete the restore point creation process.

Creating restore points before installing any new installation or major system configuration change is useful:

  • To undo changes done by incomplete installations.
  • To revert to original settings if an error is displayed during the installation or configuration changes.
  • When the uninstall process using the Add or Remove Programs utility is not working.
  • When your system or the application does not work appropriately due to erroneous installation.

Perform System Restore

To perform system restore, open the System Restore in Windows Vista, by selecting the Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore command. Or, you may select the System Restore button located on the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

On the Choose restore point screen, select your restore point from the menu. Here, if you want to display older restore points, select the Show Restore Points Older Than 5 Days check box. After selecting your restore point, select the Next button to continue.

If you have multiple drives on your PC, select the drives that you want to restore, and select the Next button to continue. Your system now prepares the computer for restore and restarts. After the restart, a message is displayed that informs you that the restoration process is complete. Select OK to close the dialog box. Your system is now restored to your selected restore point.