Windows XP System Restore is a very powerful feature that can save you lots of time and frustration.

  • Create a restore point before you install new software
  • Flashback your computer directly to a restore point
  • Use your computer’s last known good configuration

Remark : Windows XP System Restore is pretty powerful, but it is not a replacement for a backup program. It doesn’t make backup copies of your files, you still need to do this yourself.

It does save important information about Windows system files, registry settings, and settings for different users on your pc. That makes Windows XP System Restore a pretty clever tool, providing capabilities to get your digital life back on track when something goes terribly wrong.

When Windows XP System Restore is activated on your pc (we’ll see how to do that in a minute), it creates system restore points automatically :

  • When you install new software (provided that the software behaves properly and warns Windows about its presence)
  • When you install a Windows patch, security update or service pack
  • When you install a non-signed driver
  • Before you restore to a previous restore point
  • Once a day

You can also initiate a manual restore point creation.

Windows XP System Restore for you ?

Suppose you want to install a piece of free software that came with a box of breakfast cereals. Generally not the best idea to keep your computer in good shape, so you manually create a system restore point before the install.

You need to have System Restore turned on on your computer to be able to do this.

See :

How to turn on System Restore and
How to turn off System Restore

Now that you have System Restore enabled, you want to manually create a System Restore Point :

Click start – All Programs – Accessories – System Tools – System Restore

The Windows XP System Restore wizard appears. Click the option “Create a Restore Point” and click next. The wizard wants a name for your restore point. Don’t enter the date here, because Windows keeps track of Restore Point dates automatically. Rather enter something descriptive like “Pre-breakfast cereal software point”.

When you have entered the Restore Point Description, click “create”.

The wizard may take some time to complete the operation but soon you will see the “Restore Point Created” screen.

That’s all there is to it, you just created a System Restore Point. Now you have a safety net available to install new software.

Windows keeps your restore point 90 days or until System Restore runs out of disk space, whichever comes first. The restore data needs to be stored on your hard disk and you can reserve up to 12% of the total capacity on your hard disk for System Restore information.

Use Windows XP System Restore to flash back your pc to a point in time when it was working fine

Suppose that you installed your piece of software and that it isn’t what you expected after all. Maybe it even crashed or caused your computer to be instable. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just restore your computer to a point back in time when it was still running fine ?

With Windows XP System Restore you can.

If you are restoring your computer because of trouble with a piece of software that you installed, always un-install the program before you run system restore. To do this, click Start – Control Panel – Add or Remove Programs and use the program uninstall button.

With that out of the way you are now ready to restore your computer. Note that mail messages, word documents, your internet explorer favorites and personal documents are preserved by system restore. You will still have them after you restored your computer to an earlier point in time.

Just click start – All Programs – Accessories – System Tools – System Restore

The System Restore wizard appears. Click the “Restore my computer to an earlier time” option and click next.

The System Restore wizard shows a calendar with earlier restore points. Choose a restore point where your computer didn’t have problems and click next. The wizard shows the system restore confirmation screen, click next. When the operation is complete, Windows restarts and you will see a message that the system was restored. You can even undo the restoration if you want : if you start system restore a next time, you will see a new option “undo my last restoration”.

More System Restore tips :

Return from this Windows XP system restore tip to the general Windows XP tips page.