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Windows XP System Restore Points

written by: Thomas P. Walton•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 5/8/2009

You are going to wish you had set up system restore points some day. Why not prevent problems now? Read on to learn how to restore your system to an earlier point in time.

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    Why Assign Restore Points Ahead of Time?

    Once upon a time… your computer operating system was flamboyant and full of life. Now it is covered with annoying programs that you can’t get rid of. Your system is slowing down, and you’re sick of trying to track down every little computer upset. Why not take a trip back in time, to a point at which your computer was working? Let’s take a look at what restore points can do to help.

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    What Restore Points Can Do for You

    System restore points allow you to reserve settings for your computer from a chosen point in time. This is done for you automatically by your computer. However, it is suggested that you be proactive about restore points on your computer. By creating your own restore points, you will know exactly what settings to save. You will be able to ensure that your computer is savable from programs that run amuck in your operating system.

    One of the worst things to have happen is a homepage take over that just won’t go away. Sure you can reset your home page settings back to default. But what if it doesn’t work? Then what do you do?

    Other types of menaces can raise a red flag to justify a system restore point. These menaces may be programs that don’t completely uninstall, or just cannot be deleted from the system. You may have tried using the Add/Remove Programs feature—but ultimately failed to permanently remove the obnoxious software. The software may have created relationships with other programs, or shared data that is now lost (or at least unusable).

    A system restore point can help eliminate the need to remove programs altogether (tracking down the data these programs share can be very time consuming).

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    What Restore Points Can Not Do for You

    System restore points are an excellent preparation for the worst. However, system restore points cannot solve all computer problems. Corrupted files aren’t a problem for a system restore, as long as the corrupted files are not restoration points. A corrupted restore point is absolutely useless.

    It is imperative that you set up system restore points in advance. This is a good idea whenever you are about to make significant changes to your files, programs, or even the operating system. It is a good idea to make a system restore point before you upgrade a new browser, media devices, and internet tools (including Real Player).

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    How to Set Up a System Restore Point

    You will use a program in Windows XP called the Microsoft System Recovery. Left-click on the Start menu. Move your mouse-pointer to Accessories, then System Tools. Click on System Restore. Select the option to Create a Restore Point. Click on the Next button to continue. Follow the prompts that Windows XP gives you.

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    How to Send the System Back to a Restoration Point

    Sending your system back in time is easy. You just follow the same steps for setting up a restore point, except that you will select the option to Restore this time. Click on the Start menu, then go to Accessories > System Tools. Click on System Restore. Select Restore my computer to an earlier time. Click on the Next button. Windows XP will guide you through the steps. Just follow the prompts and you’ll be on your way to a fresh operating system. It is also a good idea to defrag your computer in order to tidy up your files for a smooth transition back in time (see my article on defragging your hard drive).

    Reboot your computer from the start menu. Your Windows XP operating system will be set to the restored point in time.