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  1. #1
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    What, exactly, does System Restore protect?




    LANGALIST PLUS

    What, exactly, does System Restore protect?


    By Fred Langa

    System Restore has been around since Windows ME, but it's still misunderstood by many Windows users.


    It has also evolved over time, gaining new features and functions which only adds to the confusion.


    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/langalist-plus/what-exactly-does-system-restore-protect/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    Fred,

    Nice articles on System Restore and RPV, but there's a little gotcha that you haven't mentioned that might be good to point out. I rarely use system restore so found this out the hard way one day when I really needed to use it.

    System restore points (and RPV if you DON'T use Windows Backup as in my case) seem to be tied to the VOLUME NAME of a disk or partition and not to any physically invariant identifier. When you buy a new machine or upgrade to Win 7 on an existing box, you get a manufacturer or OS selected volume name that may not be that clear. In our network at home we have several machines for different purposes and it's helpful to have clearer naming on them.

    Unfortunately, the default system restore function is tied to the ORIGINAL NAME of the volume. This results in a situation where system restore is ON for the ORIGINAL name, but the volume is tagged as missing. Thus system restore point creation messages still appear (in Win Update for example), but no restore point is actually being created. Once you rename the volume, the new name also shows up in the protection list, but the old name also remains there. The new name has system restore set to OFF. To get system protection you have to go into the setup, delete the old name (by turning off system protection on it) and then turn on system protection for the new name.

    Perhaps it should have been obvious that the function was tied to the name of the volume, but it was something I missed and no messages were ever generated highlighting that restore points actually weren't being created.

    OOPS...
    Last edited by davelr; 2012-02-09 at 11:10.

  3. #3
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    Possible Future Topic

    Hi, Fred - fan of yours for many years, back to Langalist days. Your article on what System Restore does/doesn't do was interesting, and brought me to bring up a topic I've puzzled over for years. There is a wide variety of solutions for system backup - data backup to local devices like hard drives, blu-ray, and (ugh) tape, cloud backup, image backup to external drives and using Windows Home Server, etc., System Restore, yadda, yadda. But there's a problem set that has no solution I'm aware of - and that is operational continuity/recovery through full system failure of an elderly machine.

    Hard drive failure, sure - plug in another drive, image back, and you're off and running. But if the motherboard fails, and a replacement is no longer available (a very common occurrence in small businesses that keep their machines until they die), there is no "backup" system that will provide a quick, smooth recovery process and bring back their old environment - OS (or a new OS), along with applications, data, settings, etc. - short of having a cold spare clone of the old machine. Yet that's exactly what many a storefront shop needs when the flood hits, the fire's out, etc. I really think a discussion about how to work around this, as well as any tools out there that could automate a complete - apps, settings, and data - recovery to a new (and different) machine, would be a valuable contribution to many small business people's security.

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    A useful column, as always. You mention briefly password managers and say you recommend third-party password managers. I'm using Roboform (and love it) but am a bit queasy about its security. I'd be very interested in an article on third party managers, and especially on those that synchronize your password between machines.

  5. #5
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    Cannot find Restore Previous Version

    Actually, I finally figured out why I cannot find Restore Previous Version. I use the Home version of Vista which lacks quite a number of facilities. Again and again I have read tips for Vista and then found they do not apply to my version.

    Please, please--when you provide interesting information about Windows, indicate which versions it applies to. That will save people from wasting their time looking for something that is not there. You should not take for granted that everyone uses the more advanced versions of Windows.

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