What Really Gets Restored During A 'System Restore'?

Microsoft designed System Restore to fix problems that can arise on any Windows XP system. Whether it occurs from installing/updating drivers, programs or "ubiquitous" unexplained Windows errors, System Restore can often save you from a complete system failure. Microsoft created System Restore with a lot of forethought. System Restore protects your personal data to prevent it from being accidentally deleted when you roll back to a prior time.

When you run System Restore, the following changes and repairs are made:

  • Device drivers are rolled back if you have updated the driver on an existing peripheral or installed new hardware.

  • Newly installed applications are (partially) uninstalled. Because System Restore makes every effort to preserve document files, applications are not as completely uninstalled as they would be if you performed the operation through the Add/Remove Software Control Panel Applet or a third-party uninstall utility.

  • Any altered system files (basically, anything that normally would be found in various Windows directories) are restored.

  • Cosmetic changes you made to your system (such as mouse tracking speed or keyboard repeat rate) since the restore point was created are rolled back. Basically, anything changed in the Control Panel since the time stamp on the restore point will be undone.

Note that personal files, like email, word processing files, graphics, etc. will always remain unchanged. This is what makes System Restore different from a full backup and restore utility.

Only system changes made after the time stamp on a restore point are rolled back. Also note that time stamps are complete snapshots of the system. In other words, if you install a software program on June 1 and another one on June 2, rolling back to May 31 will eliminate both.

Here's tip for you - To be safe, you should save all personal documents in the My Documents folder, which System Restore does not monitor, regardless of its contents.   installations.

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