What Does System Restore Do?
System Restore is a great feature in Windows that lets you roll back the clock on system changes. Have you ever wondered how System Restore affects your computer's resources, performance and what's really going on behind the scenes? Read on...
What Is System Restore Really Doing?
What does Windows' System Restore backup feature do all day on your computer? Is it worth having System Restore on all the time, or is it wasting resources you could use?
System Restore runs quietly in the background doing nothing but monitoring your computer's ever-changing state. By "state", I mean the system settings stored in your registry; what files are on your hard drive and which have changed in some way. So it doesn't consume much computer resources by running constantly. You won't gain noticeable performance by turning off System Restore.
System Restore saves your computer's current state to a file called a Restore Point when one of the following events happens or is about to happen:
- When software is installed using the Windows Installer, Package Installer or other installers which are aware of System Restore.
- When Windows Update installs new updates to Windows.
- When the user installs a driver that is not digitally signed by Windows Hardware Quality Labs.
- Every 24 hours of computer use or every 24 hours of calendar time, whichever happens first. Such a restore point is known as a system checkpoint. System Restore requires Task Scheduler to create system checkpoints. Also, system checkpoints are only created if the system is idle for a certain amount of time.
- When the operating system starts after being off for more than 24 hours.
- When the user requests it.
On Windows Vista, shadow copies created during File Backup and Complete PC Backup can also be used as restore points. Your restore points can consume a healthy chunk of your hard drive, but that's under your control.
By default, Windows allocates up to 15 per cent of your hard drive's available space for the saving of restore points. When this space is filled with restore points, the oldest restore point is deleted on a "first in, first out" basis. If your hard drive is getting close to being full, Windows may also delete some older restore points to free up space. You can change the disk space amount and other settings in the System Restore configuration dialogue.
- Click Start, then Control Panel. (On XP, select "Classic View")
- Click System, then click System Protection (On XP, click System Restore).
- Select a drive and click the Configure/Settings button. A dialogue box appears that lets you
- Turn System Restore protection on or off for this drive.
- Set the percentage of disk space devoted to restore points
- Delete all stored restore points (Vista or Win7)
Programs installed since the last restore point was created will be lost when you restore your system using System Restore. That's one way to get rid of malware, but it can also get rid of recently installed programs you want to keep. You should have backup copies of the installation packages, or be able to download them. See my related article for more details on how to run System Restore.
You should also have a way to boot your computer from CD, DVD, or flash drive in case your hard drive gets so messed up you can't boot from it normally. The Windows installation disc is one way. You can make a System Recovery disc too. Either will let you access restore points on the hard drive to set things right again.
Got comments or questions about System Restore? Post your thoughts below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Sep 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What Does System Restore Do? (Posted: 23 Sep 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved