System Recovery / System Restore

Hello and welcome back to another exciting and fun filled edition of The Weekly Geek. In this weeks edition we are going to go over Microsoft Windows built in self healing options.

The first and most widely known is available in Windows ME and XP only, it is the “System Restore” feature.

Periodically the computer takes a snapshot of your hard drive, if you have a problem you can pick a restore point that was taken before the problem occurred and bingo, you are back in business. The beauty of this option is that you can also manually create a restore point. If you are going to make hardware or software changes it is recommended that you create a restore point. Regardless of the situation, let’s go ahead and create a restore point and see how to recover (restore) your system.

First backup all of your personal data (documents, files, spreadsheets, email and the such).

Now, go to “Start | (All) Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore”.

Click on the circle (radio button) “Create A Restore Point” then select “Next”.

You will need to enter a restore point name, I use the date (121203 for December 12th 2003) but you can use what is best for your memory and situation.

Next you will need to click on “Create” and then “Close”. That is all there is to it.

To restore from a point you have a couple of options.

If Windows is working at least partially go to “Start | (All) Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore”

Next, click on the button “Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time” and then select “Next”.

A calendar will appear and many of the days (numbers) will be in bold, this is where at least one restore point has been created.

Click on the desired day (you can use the arrows on either side of the month to move to a different month) and if multiple restore points were created, click on the name of the one you wish to use the list next to the date.

Select “Next” to continue, and follow the Wizard to load the restore point. Remember that all changes since that restore are now undone so I recommend immediately going out and updating your Anti-virus, Firewall, Anti-malware programs as well as running Windows Critical Updates. Many programs are not supposed to be changed but I always double-check.

Documents that you created such as letters and spreadsheets are not supposed to be removed so you should be save there, but if not restore them from your backup.

If you cannot boot into Windows but instead you get a list of choices, select “Last Known Good Configuration” and see if this will save your bacon.

Other “Self healing” techniques are available in different versions of Windows.

In Windows 98 go to “Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Information”.

Inside this new window select “Tools” from the menu bar (top text listings) and then “Registry Checker” to look for basic registry errors, the check will run and report any abnormalities.

Also under the “Tools” menu is “System File Checker” selecting it brings up a new window make sure “Scan for altered files” is selected and then choose “Start” and let the system run, this one may take a while so go get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

These options might not seem like much but, in an emergency they are just the ticket. Of course there are many other third party program that have more advanced features such as Symantec’s System Works, Iolo’s System Mechanic and McAfee’s Utilities and others which provide more in-depth cleaning and recover as well as tweaking.

Well I hope you all are getting ready for a very enjoyable week, until next week keep your definitions up (virus definitions that is) and have a virus free week.