Software // Enterprise Applications
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7/10/2002
01:37 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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Langa Letter: Maximizing ''System Restore'' In WinME and WinXP

Depending on how you use it, this component can be a help--or a hog!

Extreme Option: Disable It Entirely
If you're already making regular, full backups by some other means, you don't really need System Restore at all: Your backups already do far more than System Restore can. Good backups protect everything on your system (system files and user data) and can get every part of your system fully back to trouble-free operation.

If you have a good backup regimen in place (e.g., http://www.langa.com/backups/backups.htm), consider turning System Restore all the way off. Here's how:

In XP: Right click on My Computer, select Properties, and select the System Restore tab. Select the checkbox labeled "Turn off System Restore on all drives." Or, if you wish just to disable System Restore on some of your drives or partitions, you can do that, too: Select the drive you wish to adjust, click the Settings button, and then check the box marked "Turn off System Restore for this drive."

In WinME: Right click My Computer, select Properties, then Performance/File System/Troubleshooting. Then check the box marked "Disable System Restore." Note that unlike XP, WinME does not allow per-drive settings; it's all or nothing.

With System Restore disabled, you'll reclaim previously wasted disk space, and also avoid the CPU- and disk-intensive background tasks that System Restore otherwise automatically launches from time to time.

Hybrid Option: Run It Only On An Ad Hoc Basis
System Restore can be handy as an ad hoc tool, when used in conjunction with full backups:

You can use System Restore to set a manual Restore Point just before you install new software or make significant system changes between backups. This way, should the new software mis-install or cause other problems, you can get your system running stably again in less time that it would take to do a full restoration from your backups. But because you're using full backups as your main line of defense, you don't have to leave System Restore running all the time: You can shut it down once you're sure your new software is working OK, or your system change worked out. Used this way, System Restore is a kind of handy, temporary safety net.

Here's how:

First, follow the steps above in "Extreme Option: Disable It Entirely" to turn off System Restore. Then, when you're about to install major new software, or make other significant system changes, simply reverse the process:

In XP: Right click on My Computer, select Properties, and select the System Restore tab. Deselect (uncheck) the checkbox labeled "Turn off System Restore on all drives." Or, if you used per-drive settings, select the drive you wish to adjust, click the Settings button, and then deselect the checkbox marked "Turn off System Restore for this drive."

In WinME: Right click My Computer, select Properties, then Performance/File System/Troubleshooting. Then uncheck the box marked "Disable System Restore."

Once System Restore is re-enabled, manually make a new Restore Point:

In XP: Click Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Restore.

In WinME: Click Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Restore.

In both operating systems, select "Create a Restore Point" and follow the prompts. Now install the new software or make your system changes. If the new software installs cleanly or your other system changes go smoothly, you can then turn System Restore back off until the next time you need it. But if there's a problem with the software installation or system changes, you can use the newly created Restore Point to set things right again.

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