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System Restore - Bring Back an Earlier Configuration

When you power a computer on, and the operating system starts to boot, one place it looks to to configure its all aspects of its behavior is the registry.  The registry is a very large file (actually two very large files) that contain values pertaining to all aspects of the computer's hardware and software settings.  A corrupt registry can cause the computer to become completely useless.  The registry becomes corrupt when something causes values to be deleted or to change and become invalid.

Fortunately, Windows creates a copy of the registry each time it starts up.  It saves that copy in a hidden file, so that it cannot be accessed by regular means.  A copy of the registry is only saved upon a good startup.  By definition, that backed up registry is error-free.  Should something occur that causes the computer to cease functioning properly, it is possible to overwrite the corrupt registry with one created at a good startup.  This function in Windows is called a System Restore

One last thing:  Remember to always tell the student that the computer's behavior and look (ie desktop pictures, screensaver, settings, etc) will also revert to the time that has been chosen for the restore. 

(System Restore does NOT mean to re-install the OS).

This training describes the technique by which a system restore takes place in Windows 98, ME, and XP.  In Win 98, the utility is called scanreg /restore.  In Win Me in DOS mode, it is simply called scanreg.  None of this applies to Windows 95 or 2000.


When is is appropriate to use System Restore?

Questions you should ask the student

Do NOT use System Restore if...


Windows 98 - scanreg /restore


Windows ME

You can boot into at least Safe Mode | You cannot boot.  You need to use a boot disk

Windows XP
Restore point calendar - choose a restore point | confirm your choice

Creating a Restore Point


How to run XP System Restore from the command prompt
(opens a new browser window)

 

 
When is it appropriate to use system restore?
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-  The student reports some kind of abnormal behavior being displayed by the computer.
-  The problem is reported to be recent.
-  The student remembers a fairly definite time before which the computer was fine, and after which the computer started to malfunction.
-  In Win 98, the problem is less than 4 weeks old.

Remember to ask questions such as:
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-  Do you recall when the problem occurred?
-  Was the computer completely fine before that time?
-  Do recall downloading anything, installing something, uninstalling something, or deleting something before the problem occurred?

If the answers to these questions satisfy the criteria listed above, consider doing a system restore.


Do NOT use System Restore if:
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-  The problem is more than a month old in Win 98.
-  The problem is caused by a virus.  System Restore does no good if the virus is still on the drive.
-  The problem is the result of missing files that are indicated as missing on boot.


The restore feature brings back a registry which references the critical system files that were "de-referenced" (and thus "lost") when the registry became corrupt.  This method is not a cure-all.  In Windows 98, in fact, the utility fails as often as it succeeds.  It is much more reliable in Win ME and XP.

 

Windows 98 - scanreg /restore
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-  Start the computer with a Win 98 boot disk.
-  At the a:\> prompt, change the directory to c: by typing "c:".
-  At the c:\> prompt, type scanreg /restore.
-  The Microsoft Registry Checker initializes.  You will be presented with a series of dates, and the .cab (cabinet, which contains the good files) associated with them.
-  Only choose from .cab files that have the word "started" associated with them.  Click "OK".
-  If all goes well, you'll see a message stating "Restoring System Files".
-  You will be told that the system has been restored to a registry with no errors.  Restart the computer.
-  If the operation fails, the message will read, "Restore operation failed".  Attempt to choose another date.



Windows ME
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System restore in Win ME is presented under two scenarios.   The first assumes you can boot into at least Safe Mode.  The second one assumes that you cannot boot, and need to use a boot disk to get to a command prompt.

Scenario 1:  You can boot into at least Safe Mode. 

-  Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore
-  The restore program comes up and presents you with two options.  One is to create a restore point.  The other is to restore the system to an earlier configuration.
-  Fill in the radio button by "Restore my system to an earlier configuration".  Click next.
-  You will be presented with a calendar.  Only concern yourself with the dates in bold.
-  Choose a date that you know is prior to the start of the problem.
-  Click "Next", and then "Next" again.
-  You will see a progress bar.  When the bar is finished, the computer will reboot, back to the Restore program screen.

Click here for screenshots of the system restore feature in Windows XP, which is nearly identical to the Win ME utility.  Any differences will be referenced at the screenshot.


Scenario 2:  You cannot boot.  You need to use a boot disk.

Start the computer with a Millenium boot disk. 
-  At the a:\> prompt, type scanreg.
-  The Registry Restore Program initializes.
-  If all has gone well, the program will choose a good registry copy for you. 
-  You will be told that Scanreg found an error in the registry, and has restored a new copy of the registry.  Reboot the computer.
-  If all has not gone well, you will be told that the operation failed.



Windows XP
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System Restore in Win XP is almost identical to the system restore in Win ME.  The process below is for XP, but will also include the minor differences you will see in ME.

-  Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.
-  The System Restore screen will com up.
-  In Windows XP, you have 3 choices:  restore, create restore point, and undo the last restoration.
-  In Win ME, you only have the first 2 choices:  restore, and create restore point.

We have chosen "Restore my system to an earlier time".  Click "Next", below.



 

You are presented with the restore points calendar.  Only concern yourself with the dates below.
-  On the right, click on the "system checkpoint" to highlight it.  If there are more than one to choose from, choose the earlier one.
-  This part of the procedure is identical for both ME and XP.

-  We have chosen "April 16" on the left, and "3:35:21 System Checkpoint" on the right.  Click "Next" below.

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-  You will be prompted with the page below.  Make sure all programs are closed, and proceed with the restore.
-  A progress bar will move to the right.  When it is done, the computer will reboot.

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Creating a Restore Point
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You must create a restore point before you start the procedure. If something goes wrong, you can always revert back to the registry you started with, leaving the system in the same shape it was when you walked in the door.


Windows 98

- Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Information.
- Under the "Tools" entry in the menu, choose "Registry Checker".
- The registry scan will automaticaslly start.
- If there are errors, you will be prompted to restore a good copy of the registry. If this happens, click yes.
- Restart the comp.
- Go back the the Registry Check. When prompted to back the registry up, click Yes.
- If there are no errors, you'll simply be prompted to back up the registry. Click yes.



Windows ME, XP

-  Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.
-  The System Restore screen will com up.
-  In Windows XP, you have 3 choices:  restore, create restore point, and undo the last restoration.
-  In Win ME, you only have the first 2 choices:  restore, and create restore point.

We have chosen "Create restore point".  Click "Next", below.






Enter a name for the restore point. 
-  It should be a name that will be remembered, should it be needed.

We have called our new restore point "The Miracle".  Click on "Create" below. (In Win Me, you would click "Next").

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After the restore point is created, System Restore indicates the completion of the process.
-  If there are any future problems that might be fixed by System Restore, perform the restore process and choose the date and restore point name just created.

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