| Friday May 27th 2016

After 8 years, I finally used System Restore. Do you use it?


Microsoft introduced System Restore in Windows Me back in 2000.

I’m not sure if it even worked. I just know it loaded an EXE on every boot, eating up precious Win9x 16/32-bit resources that helped reduce stability and require the user to reboot more than needed. I usually kept it disabled.

System Restore never really became widely used by the masses until Windows XP.

Even then, I usually kept it turned off on my system. If something screwed up on my computer, I could just boot off some CD and fix it. If things got too bad, I would just start my normal “flatten and re-install” early.

The same applied for computers I worked on for clients. If a computer wasn’t booting, it was usually something I could fix easily. I never saw a need for System Restore. The end-user couldn’t figure it out how to use such a tool, and the problem they were usually having wouldn’t be fixable by it anyway.

Many of the clients’ systems I worked on were overloaded by a multitude of disk-scanning programs and would only have 256 Megs of RAM. The only thing System Restore did was help reduce overall system performance by causing unneeded disk activity through its daily system file backup process and crazy fragmentation issues it caused for everything else. I’m sure they really enjoyed all the disk activity from System Restore, Symantec Antivirus, and LANDesk every day.

Today though, I had to deal with a system with a failing hard drive. The whole “failing hard drive” thing didn’t matter to them, as they didn’t have anything too-important on their system. They just wanted to get back into Windows as quickly as possible.

The computer would boot up, but then give an error saying \System32\Config\System was damaged.
So I boot off a CD, and copy a backup “System” registry file from last month from their C:\System Volume Information\_restore folder. After a reboot, they were back up and running.

Now, that obviously isn’t the way System Restore was designed to be used, but it still worked, and it was the first time I had ever taken advantage of it.

I’ve seen “System Restore” recommended for people who break something on their system.
But who actually uses it?

Does anyone swear by it? Or are you like me and just turn it off without second thought?

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