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Poll: How useful do you find Windows System Restore?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 2, 2010 6:14 AM PDT
How useful do you find Windows System Restore utility?

- Very useful, it's saved me many times. (Why so many times?)
- Somewhat useful. (How so?)
- Not useful. (Tell us why.)
- I use other system restore utilities (Tell us what you use.)
- I'd use it more if it worked properly. (What?s wrong with it?)
- I have no idea, I've never used it. (You?ve been lucky then.)
- What is this System restore utility you speak of? (Are you just kidding?)
- I don?t do Windows.
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Used maybe 3 times in 7 or 8 years
by Steven Haninger / July 2, 2010 6:47 AM PDT

but it never solved an issue I was having. I can't judge it's usefulness based solely on personal experience, however. I tend to create a HD image at regular intervals or when I'm installing some piece of software and prefer this method as a bailout rather than system restore.

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I have it turned off!
by Demaclies / July 4, 2010 9:56 PM PDT

I keep system restore off permanently because worms will install themselves to that location, and since restore protects changes to that data, you can not fully remove the problem you have detected, unless system restore is disabled. I just clone my PC from time to time on a portable hard drive and that works MUCH better. Sure It cost 80 bucks for the hard ware, but I have absolute peace of mind. I know my data is safe, I know I wont be reinfected if I use restore, and of course, system restore is a monster resource hog, and it rarely operates properly from what I have seen on computers I have been asked to rescue. Why waste valuable resources on your system with a back-up program that helps infections stay protected? Do it yourself, have a faster computer, and more space on your PC; means faster searches of your database and you have peace of mind in case your computer is destroyed, or stolen. Keep your back-up HDD in a safe, dry, low EM/micro radiation area... and all good. Hope this helps!

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Used it often
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 2, 2010 7:10 AM PDT

in the 15 years I've been using Windows, usually with good results.

System Restore has got better with the newer versions of Windows.

Why have I used it? A variety of reasons ranging from plain idiocy in 'messing about' with the OS to a quick and safer way to restore to a previous state after a software install.

In the early days it helped remove viruses, but the malware writers have become too clever for that trick nowadays.


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System Restore Points are difficult
by manperez / July 2, 2010 9:31 AM PDT

My experience is that my machine tends to lock up when creating System Restore points, and with Vista they are never available when I have a serious problem.
When the computer is working fine, I can see a few of them (much less with Vista than with Windows XP)but when the computer is compromised then I've had to go to a factory reset, since the restore points don't help.

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Windows System Restore
by Ron Geiken / July 2, 2010 9:34 AM PDT

It is nice to know you have that program around. I remember some of the earlier iterations of Windows that didn't have those things, and it could be very difficult to recover from a system crash. I haven't had to use if for a year or two, but glad it is around. I also do extensive data back ups, so can recover most of my work if I have to. I can always reinstall the O/S and other programs, but recovering work that you have created can be a problem.

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I'm one for one with it so far
by jeanash / July 2, 2010 9:35 AM PDT

I'm what I think is "computer savvy" but not very knowledgeable beyond just a little below the surface, really. I did a dumb thing by deleting one of two copies of my wireless printer, which screws up every time the power goes off in a storm, and the remaining one no longer worked. I tried going to a half dozen support sites and wasted more time trying to find the install disk when I thought about trying to go to a restore point that was before I did the dumb deletion. I had no idea what would happen, or what files would then be missing or anything, but I took it step by step and voila! There was my original printer icon back again and everything is working fine. I'm sure somebody more geeky than I could have fixed the original problem a better way, but this worked for me.

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I'd use it more if it worked
by wtortorici / July 2, 2010 9:53 AM PDT

When using backup, I usually boot to safe mode when I can. From there I get about a 50% success rate. What annoys me is after a half hour or more the system boots normally and displays an informatiom box declaring that system restore failed and none of my files or programs have been change. GRRR!

Even when using a backup disk, windows declares it can't continue because it can't find a particular file. GGRRR!

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Me, too
by Pegs56 / July 2, 2010 1:29 PM PDT

I've used (tried to) System Restore 5 times on customers' machines. Of course they hadn't bothered to do any kind of back up, but couldn't afford to lose ANYthing. (!!!)

Out of those 5 times, SR worked once. Otherwise, I get the same thing - wait for it to do its thing, re-start & then it tells me the restore wasn't completed for whatever reason.

So, to me, System Restore is pretty useless.

(For my own files, I back up religiously. I have the original files, copies on another hard drive, on CD & some things are also on a flash drive. Maybe overkill, but I've never lost anything. Grin )

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by ktagliam / May 19, 2011 12:52 AM PDT


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Only needed it once, and it failed
by d_adams / July 2, 2010 9:55 AM PDT

I only ever needed it once. Can't remember the exact circumstances, but I somehow got Vista Home Premium where it wouldn't start up when I tried to fix some kind of problem. I put in my restore DVD, and tried to restore the computer using a week old System Restore backup. It wouldn't work. Can't remember the exact error message, but in the end I had to just give up and re-install. Funny thing is, when I re-installed, it fixed the original problem, so guess it wasn't all bad.

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I'm testing a wide range of software constantly
by thljcl / July 2, 2010 10:14 AM PDT

That's why System Restore is pretty useful to me.

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VMWARE might be better for you...
by PCFerret / July 3, 2010 2:44 AM PDT

I use VMWARE Workstation and its Snapshot feature to create clone PC's for software testing.

Works much better than Windows Restore ever did and thoroughly protects the main HDD from viral nastiness.

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System restore has been very helpful in rescuing infected PC
by Jack Stankevicz / July 2, 2010 11:22 AM PDT

When traditional cleanup tools like Malware bytes don't work, and the clock is ticking, try a System Restore. The only think the client PC loses is some updates, and updates can be a source of problems!

System Restore is not my first step, but it has worked wonders for me, many times.

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I've used System Restore...
by dave7072 / July 2, 2010 11:54 AM PDT

I've used System Restore a couple of times in the past but I use Norton Ghost to do a full backup on Sunday and an incremental backup on Wednesday, to an external HD.

I find Ghost is much better because in a worst case scenario it can restore EVERYTHING.

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I have been fortunate!
by PCFerret / July 2, 2010 12:54 PM PDT

I use Windows restore points, but haven't needed to actually USE one.

I usually take restore points before installing new software - JIC!

Now that I am using VMWARE Workstation, I use the VMWARE checkpoints for my virtual PC's.

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I too have been fortunate
by Dick Humfrey / July 3, 2010 6:55 AM PDT
In reply to: I have been fortunate!

Created restore points - but have never needed to use them.

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win restore
by kridgerd / July 2, 2010 1:02 PM PDT

Everytime I have tried to use 'recover' in my Win 7 Home Premium it hasn't worked. At first, it would not open the service. I couldn't make any backups at all. After many hours of trying to figure it out with MS Help, I reloaded the OS. Now it makes backups OK but when I go to 'restore' it goes through all the motions but then says it couldn't do it because the service was denied access to the b/u file.

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Never works
by velvets1 / July 2, 2010 2:23 PM PDT

I'm still running XP.
If I ever come across the need to use system restore, the system is always unable to restore to the point and date that I choose.
When the worst comes to the worst I have do a factory reset.

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Only tried it once
by mwooge / July 2, 2010 2:42 PM PDT

I only tried it once, a few years ago. Didn't seem to do anything, and certainly didn't fix the problem it should have.

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had a restore problem
by wheelnut53 / July 2, 2010 3:59 PM PDT

If anyone was paying attention I was here earlier this year wondering if anyone could help or had advice on my restore.It was not setting points manually or otherwise well I never found out what the problem was but in a serendiptious moment I needed a antivirus and so I installed MS essentials which does an automatic restore before every scheduled scan. problem solved

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windows system restore is useless
by sunshinedeb24 / July 2, 2010 9:04 PM PDT

its a waste of time. i have tried to use it several times and it never works, but it goes thru the motions then tells me it didn't work. then someone told me i shouldn't even use it! so i don't bother with it anymore,but im sure it was meant ofr a purpose so that bugs me that it wont do what its supposed to do.

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System Restore utility
by bar0329 / July 3, 2010 6:04 AM PDT

Everytime I download a program or make changes to my computer, I make a restore point first, then if I don't like the download or changes, I can undo it with no problems. Saves me lots of time and aggravation. I would really hate to lose the restore option.

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Do a COMPLETE registry restore instead with ERUNT
by lodave / July 3, 2010 7:41 AM PDT

After several unsatisfactory experiences with Windows System Restore, going back to Win98 days, I switched to ERUNT.
[ERUNT = Emergency Recovery Utility - NT] provided by Lars Hederer for FREE at www.larshederer.homepage.t-online.de/erunt/ and other download sites. On first cold boot each day a complete backup is made of the entire Registry and saved to folder Windows/ERDNT or other location of your choice. ERDNT will take the system totally back to whichever day you choose, plus it runs from Windows Recovery Console if needed. 30-day's-worth are kept by default when AutoBackup option is used, the oldest being deleted for the latest, but that is configurable too . For double protection, the backup registries can easily be saved or copied to an exterior storage device. See the home page for full details.

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saved me
by Maceman69 / July 4, 2010 6:06 PM PDT

I find it very useful, it's saved me many times.
I have downloaded wrong updates etc.
Usually I do everything semi automatic and it means mistakes every now and then..


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Poll results vs coments
by Jack Stankevicz / July 5, 2010 6:25 AM PDT

I can't seem to get back to the original question and the poll that went with it. My memory says that the poll generally was favorable to system restore? Yet, when I look at these comments, I see mostly negative comments.

i'm surprised that there is so little support for system restore. It's certainly not a perfect solution, but for me, SR has worked enough times to be part of my tool kit.

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It worked fine in XP
by wtortorici / July 5, 2010 1:32 PM PDT

Got flakey in Vista and Win7 doen't work for RESTORE. Had to use Recovery disk. Some posts maybe con fusing Restore (from a previous working session) with Recovery as in a clean installation.
To answer your question, personally I would support Restore if it worked in win7.

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sometimes it works
by jackee560 / July 5, 2010 10:02 PM PDT
In reply to: It worked fine in XP

but really more often than not it will not restore when it is needed even on xp. Occasionally it has worked for me, I have radically decreased the space it occupies so it doesn't keep lots of useless restore points though. Has to be worth a try ,but like someone else suggested it annoys the H..l out of me: it must be there for some reason and that it doesn't perform as it should makes it and Microsoft look pretty sad

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very useful
by marine07001 / July 7, 2010 5:09 AM PDT

I've used system restore many times over the years, today being the most recent. There are a variety of reasons I use it, and sometimes, it doesn't work. But its worked often enough for me to continue to use it. It is faster than Acronis and doesn't take up the drive space, however, I do use Acronis for my main computer simply because it is so much more reliable.

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Not useful
by ktagliam / May 19, 2011 12:50 AM PDT

The one time i was hoping for it to restore, the restore failed on every restore point i checked.

Not really sure how it is helpful, I am more afraid of it than anything. I don't understand exactly what it does and am afraid it might wipe out something I want to keep. And so far, it has done nothing for me.

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