How to Use the System Restore Function of Windows XP

Well, we all have been there. We turn on our computer (boot up) getting ready to type that school report, or business presentation and guess what, our computer just does not want to work today. Whether it's the word processor, spreadsheet, or financial package that isn't working, most people do not know that Microsoft Windows XP has a built in feature that just may come and save the day. That feature is called "System Restore."

Basically, System Restore is like a little hound that runs behind the scenes taking "snapshots" of various parts of the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. So, if a part of Microsoft Windows XP stops working one day, the System Restore utility is able to reference one of the "snapshots" it took and restore your system from a previous day (a day when your computer worked). It's kind of like going back in time to a day when your computer worked. All your current data (Microsoft Word files, etc.) are still retained, so you don't have to worry about losing any present day files.

In order to restore your computer just follow these simple steps:

1. Close any open programs.
2. Click on the Windows "Start" button (normally located on the bottom of your computer desktop) 
3. Click on "All Programs" 
4. Click on "Accessories" 
5. Click on "System Tools" 
6. Then click on "System Restore" 
7. At this point the System Restore wizard will launch. 

You will have two options:

a. "Restore my system from an earlier date" 
b. "Create a system restore point"

If you just need to restore your system and get it working correctly again, just select option "a" and click "Next."

8. On this screen you can select a date from the calendar that you would like to try and restore from. So, if you knew that your computer worked fine two days ago, just pick that date on the calendar and click "Next." 
9. The next screen is the confirmation window. Just verify the information on the screen and click "Next." Windows XP will then reboot and try to restore your system with the settings from the date you selected.

The System Restore process can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on how much reconfiguration Windows XP needs to do and how fast of a PC you have. When System Restore is done, a screen will popup with the results of the restore. If it was successful, you can then log into the system and start using the computer again. Any quirky issues that you were having are now hopefully gone.

Now, on step 7b above, I mentioned the "Create a system restore point" option. This option is for when you want to force Windows XP to take a snapshot of your system just before you install a program or alter any system settings that you are not sure of. It is like a safety net for when you install any internet programs (sometimes riddled with spyware) or system drivers (video, audio, etc). If you want to revert back to a virgin state just create a restore point "before" installing any software. This way, if your machine starts acting weird, you can just restore your settings from the selected point.

With a little practice, the System Restore utility is easy to use and a great way to help ensure the safety of your computer.


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