How to Set a System Restore Point

Before changing your system settings you should always set a System Restore Point in order to make recovery easier in case of problems.

While Windows will set these points automatically at various times; setting a specific point can be useful if there are things you've done after Windows sets its automatic point that you want to keep. Recovery to a set System Restore Point can cause data loss from that point foward as that's the purpose of the restore point: to restore the system to a particular point in time. (The data and/or program may still be on the hard disk but the registry may no longer point to it if you restore to a point before installation of a program. This can cause problems accessing the data.)

To set a System Restore Point...

  • Open the Start menu
  • Open the Programs menu
  • Open the Accessories menu
  • Open the System Tools menu
  • Finally, start System Restore
  • Pick the option for setting a System Restore Point and click on the Next button
  • Fill in a name for the restore point so you can find it and click on the Create button
  • Click on the Close button when done

If you need to restore the system to a particular point or change the options Windows uses to set restore points use the System Restore tool as well.

Show Me Show me a Flash movie about the above.

A description can also be found on the Microsoft site.

Note: For the curious, the restore point information is stored in the hidden folder "System Volume Information" in the root directory of the drive. Windows will typically block any attempt to explore that folder.

Now that you know the way to set a restore point via the menus, here is a simple trick to make it even easier...

  • Open a text editor (like Notepad or any other editor that can save plain text files).
  • Type these three lines into the editor (or cut and paste from here)...

    Set IRP = getobject("winmgmts:\\.\root\default:Systemrestore")
    strDescription = InputBox("Restore point description: ","My Restore Point")
    MYRP = IRP.createrestorepoint (strDescription, 0, 100)
  • Save the file with a name like SetRestorePoint.vbs in some location you know or on your Desktop. (Some editors automatically add .txt to a text file; if yours does then just rename the file so that it ends with the .vbs extension after you exit the editor.) If not on the Desktop, think about creating a shortcut pointing to the file on the Desktop (navigate to the file, right click and drag to the desktop, select the Create Shortcut Here option).
  • Any time you want to set a restore point just double click on the VBS file you saved (or a shortcut to it if that's how you've set things up). The file will run and present a dialog box so you can name the restore point. When you do that and click OK the third line will create a new restore point in the background. It may take a few seconds but you can confirm the restore point was created by using the menu access system above to check. This is a quick and handy way to set a restore point before you install any new software or do anything that might change the registry in some way. Use it often.

And, if all you want to do is backup the registry, please see the discussion here...

Windows Vista

Windows Vista uses a "shadow drive" system to keep a constant backup of the system registry. Any time there are changes made, an automatic backup is made. This allows you to make restores back through multiple changes so the system restore feature is more robust. After a restore you will be required to restart Vista so make certain you close all open applications and save all open files before you so a system restore.

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