No restore point for you

The System Restore feature of Windows XP is not particularly reliable, you need to manually check that it is still doing its job.

Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.


Michael Horowitz
2 min read

Once upon a time I sat down to write a blog posting. While waiting for Windows XP to boot up, the System Restore icon on the desktop caught my eye.

I suggested making a desktop icon for System Restore back in July when I offered Four tips to using System Restore on Windows XP. In this case, the icon served as a visual reminder that I hadn't checked up on System Restore in a while.

System Restore is a feature of Windows XP* that periodically backs up the registry and other system files that Microsoft considers critical. Each backup is called a Restore Point. Whenever something goes wrong, with either Windows or an application, restoring the system to a Restore Point when everything was working well, should probably be your knee-jerk debugging reaction.

The problem with System Restore is that it's a miserably designed application, one that could only be produced by a company with no competition in the marketplace. You need to periodically check up on it because it both breaks and turns itself off and in neither case does Windows XP tell you that anything is wrong (you can't make this stuff up).

So, while XP was in the final stages of booting, I clicked on the System Restore icon and then chose to "Restore my computer to an earlier time," which is the only way to check the inventory of Restore Points.

Not a single restore point in the house

As shown above, there were no Restore Points. None. Nada Zilch.

All is well?

The System Properties (see above) showed that Windows was indeed monitoring the C disk (which in English means that it should be making Restore Points). It had 399 megabytes of hard disk space allocated to System Restore, well above the 200 megabyte minimum. There were no errors on the event logs.

Why no Restore Points? Beats me. Fortunately, I was able to make one.

Help System Restore help you. Every couple weeks or so make sure it's still making Restore Points.

*System Restore also exists in Windows ME and Vista, but not in Windows 2000.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.