Saving your Windows System from Disaster

You have deleted or overwritten system files and now your system or application doesnt want to work?

or maybe

You had the system corrupted by a 3rd party application or virus?
Its time to go back and restore a point in time when the system was stable and working fine.

On the Mac OS Leopard its the TimeMachine, in Windows XP and Vista its System Restore. Though both are not exactly the same they can serve the same purpose, to backup critical data, applications or system files only and create a restore point of these. Its up to you to control and decide what and when you want to backup your data.

However, since not everyone has terabytes of free space to have their system completly backed up incrementally every day, the average user really needs to pick and choose exactly what matters most. In other words make sure you are backing up your system files only at a minimum. Applications can always be re-installed with less hassle, but the operating system, well thats another story.

In Windows we want to backup the registery files primarily and a few other default files which the Windows system Restore takes care of automatically. System Restore enables you to restore your computer to an earlier state without losing data. This is ideal if your computer is not operating well because of a configuration change, a problem with an application, or the introduction of viruses or other unwanted software. By restoring to an earlier point in time before your computer began to have problems you may be able to get to stable or normal state.

On the Mac, OSX the Time Machine keeps a continual chain of backups over time, allowing you to turn the clock back in time to find the file you’re looking for. However needs to be told in the advanced settings not to backup all applications for example, all you want are your main user system profile files primarily, those are the ones that contain your system preferences amongst many other things which can be the cause of many system corruption issues.

In my years of experience with Windows and users it seems to have the most issues with system file corruption, so lets focus on that in this article. In the case that your system has become unstable, no longer functions properly or your getting the blue screen of death. Don't despair , and definitely don't re-install the entire operating system with the Recovery CD you might have, there is a good chance that if you have enabled System Restore and done a regular restore point every so often you will be able to get your system back.

The key here is that before you do a major update, upgrade or do a change to your operating system you need to do the System Restore checkpoint. Most problems tend to occur after you install something new which didn agree with your system. We have seen this in Windows when you install drivers, applications or get a computer virus. We have seen this on the Mac with a simple upgrade of QuickTime which the OSX system depends on for much of its multimedia playback compatability.

Windows Vista Users
should use - Windows Vista Backup and Restore Center
Follow Microsoft's step by step instructions here in using the Backup and Restore Feature in Windows Vista. Then follow these step by step instructions for using System Restore. Since Windows XP the System Restore feature has been carried forward in Windows Vista and
slightly improved, but are basically the same.

You can watch PCWizKid's video tutorial for using the Backup and System Restore (see below).

Windows XP Users should use - Windows XP Backup and System Restore
PCWizKid has put together a video tutorial for using the Backup and System Restore (which is similar in Vista).

Use System Restore to create checkpoints in case your system gets corrupted or has problems because of a recent change you might of done to Windows.