How to Enable and Disable System Restore in Windows

System Restore is a tool included in Windows since Windows ME. The System Restore tool in Windows ME was not very complex and not very useful. System Restore included with Windows XP is a little more useful, although it is not a full restoration product as it doesn't store every single thing on your computer, it only backs up essential system configuration files. Often it only allows emergency recovery. In Windows Vista and Windows 7 System Restore is vastly improved and far more useful.

System Restore is not a substitute for system or data backup. It's an emergency tool that can be used in the event of a program not installing or uninstalling correctly or a Windows patch that causes problems with an existing installation. It sometimes works for virus and malware infections - but not always.

It can be accessed from Safe Mode or from the Safe Mode startup menu in an emergency situation. It does not always work. Some viruses and other malware can interfere and prevent it working correctly and some malware removes system restore points.

By default, System Restore is turned ON when Windows is installed. It creates a folder called System Volume Information. This folder can become quite big with many restore points held in it so sometimes they should be flushed. It isn't visible in normal usage as it's a protected system file so don't go looking for it.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista handles System Restore differently to Windows XP. Where Windows XP only held a limited number of system changes and could only restore what it had saved, Vista has the capability to save many more changes using a feature called Volume Shadow Copy. Volume Shadow Copy basically holds all the system information and many changes to user data files. The Home Basic and Premium Versions have no capacity to use the Volume Shadow Copy system fully, but the enhanced System Restore itself is fully available. Vista Ultimate and Business do have the necessary access to explore and recover data from Previous Versions, a part of the System Restore and Volume Shadow Copy services.

A side effect of the Vista System Restore feature is that it can hold a huge amount of information and many restore points. This includes deleted files, even temporary internet files and files in the Recycle Bin. The system restore file can grow to a huge size on a well used system, particularly in a corporate environment. This is a result of the way the size of the System Restore file is determined. The default size is 15% of hard drive or partition size. If you have multiple Windows partitions, there will a system restore file held for each partition. In the days where an 80GB hard drive was huge, the file was self-limiting as old restore points drop off, but where hard drives are commonly being above 300GB and on many systems above 500GB, the system restore file can become huge. Easily up to 20GB if the the system is left on the default settings for long periods.

To change the default space allowance requires the use of the command line. Unless you are familiar with the use of the command line in any operating system, don't use it. Changes are reversible but, once again, from the command line only.

Described Here

On Vista Home and Premium, the file should be flushed if hard disk capacity seems to be shrinking. Maybe resized to use a lesser percentage of the total space available.

Some more reading, information and links here

To turn off Windows Vista System Restore

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click the Computer icon, and then click Properties.
  3. Click on System Protection under the Tasks column on the left side
  4. Click on Continue on the “User Account Control” window that pops up
  5. Under the System Protection tab, find Available Disks
  6. Uncheck the box for any drive you wish to disable system restore on
  7. When turning off System Restore, the existing restore points will be deleted. Click “Turn System Restore Off” on the popup window to do this.
  8. Click OK

When you have finished, restart the computer and follow the instructions in the next section to turn on System Restore.

To turn on Windows Vista System Restore

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click the Computer icon, and then click Properties.
  3. Click on System Protection under the Tasks column on the left side
  4. Click on Continue on the “User Account Control” window that pops up
  5. Under the System Protection tab, find Available Disks
  6. Place a checkmark in the box for any drive you wish to enable System Restore on
  7. Click OK

Windows XP

To check that System Restore is turned on

  1. Right click the My Computer icon on the desktop or the My Computer entry in the Start menu and go to Properties in the right click menu.
  2. On the System Restore Tab. Under “Drive Settings” your hard disks and partitions should show in the “Available drives” box with “Monitoring” listed under Status.
  3. If there is a tick on the “Turn off System Restore on all Drives” box, System Restore has been disabled. You can re-able it from here by UN-ticking the box.

To Create a New Restore Point

  1. Go to Start → All Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Restore
  2. The System Restore window will open - it doesn't really tell you a lot :(
  3. Select the Create a Restore Point button and follow the wizard. Give the restore point a name when asked, the date will be automatically added, and click on “Create”
  4. A screen saying “Restore Point Created” should appear. Click on “Close”

To Restore to an Earlier Time

Don't do this just to see what happens. It is an emergency tool, not a “suck-it-and-see” utility!!

  1. Go to Start → All Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Restore
  2. When the System Restore window opens, select the “Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time” button
  3. A windows will open with “Select a Restore Point”. Available Restore points are listed in bold on the calender and by name under “Click a Restore Point” Select the Restore Point you have chosen.
  4. You will be prompted with a confirmation window asking if you want to continue. If you do want to continue, you should press the Next button again, otherwise press cancel.
  5. System restore will then shut down all open applications and reboot the computer.

To Flush Restore Points

There are a number of reasons why you might like to consider flushing previous restore points. Holding a huge number of restore points in System Restore can eat up some disk space. Some program installations or removals fail for some reason or another and can affect system files. After a virus or malware infection you don't want to be forced to restore to an “infected” restore point.

Only flush restore points after an infection is completely removed and your computer is clean. Better an infected restore point than no restore point at all.

The safest way is to use the Disk Cleanup tool:

  1. You can flush earlier restore points by using the disk cleanup tool. Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → Disk Cleanup.
  2. Select each of your drives seperately. You can only do them one at a time.
  3. Click the More Options tab. Now click the Clean Up button under System Restore. This will flush older restore points.

It can also be done through:

  1. Right click the My Computer icon on the desktop or the My Computer entry in the Start menu and go to Properties in the right click menu.
  2. On the System Restore Tab place a tick in the “Turn off System Restore on all drives” box. Click OK, OK.
  3. Re-enable System Restore by reopening the System Properties box again and removing the tick.

For lots more information on System Restore in Windows XP this full tutorial is worth reading:
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/index.php?showtutorial=56#restore

Windows ME

To turn off Windows Me System Restore

  1. Click Start → Settings → Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the System icon.
  3. If the System icon is not visible, click View all Control Panel options to display it.
  4. On the Performance tab, click File System.
  5. On the Troubleshooting tab check Disable System Restore.
  6. Click OK. Click Yes, when you are prompted to restart Windows.

To turn on or Re-enable Windows Me System Restore

  1. Click Start → Settings → Control Panel.
  2. Double-click System.
  3. On the Performance tab click File System.
  4. On the Troubleshooting tab, uncheck Disable System Restore.
  5. Click OK. Click Yes, when you are prompted to restart Windows.

To Restore to an Earlier Time

In Windows ME this utility is not 100% reliable. There have been reports of computers not restarting correctly. So use only as a last resort and only after looking for further information about your problem.

  1. Go to Start → All Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Restore
  2. When the System Restore window opens, select the “Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time” button
  3. A windows will open with “Select a Restore Point”. Available Restore points are listed in bold on the calendar and by name under “Click a Restore Point” Select the Restore Point you have chosen.
  4. You will be prompted with a confirmation window asking if you want to continue. If you do want to continue, you should press the Next button again, otherwise press cancel.
  5. System restore will then shut down all open applications and reboot the computer.

To Flush Restore Points

  • The safest way, once again is to use the Disk Cleanup tool as described for Windows XP. The procedure is the same.
  • You can also flush restore points by turning system restore off and on again as described for Windows XP.
 
how_to_enable_and_disable_system_restore_in_windows_xp_and_windows_me.txt · Last modified: 2012/04/05 17:16 by ilago
 
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