Restore, Recovery, and Repair

June 1, 2009

Windows includes a feature called System Restore. Most people, however, don’t understand what System Restore really does. Many people have tried to use it and end up messing up their computer, often rendering the computer so that it will no longer boot up.

I know the name System Restore sounds like it restores files. It sounds like something you could use to restore a file you accidentally deleted. But that’s not what System Restore does. System Restore only saves system settings and certain critical Windows files. If your Windows settings become messed up and you can’t get them back, System Restore might fix it. However, it could make it worse. Before you run a System Restore, why not give us a call. Tell us what’s going on and we can advise you on how to proceed.

Something that sounds similar to System Restore is System Recovery. Not all computers have this feature. For example, on an HP system when you boot up your computer, you may see a message that says something like “Press F10 for System Recovery”. Another way that you might have some system recovery discs that came with your computer. There are generally two different types of System Recovery that can be performed. Destructive and Non-desctructive.

A Non-destructive System Recovery tries to fix Windows while leaving your data. However, often, it breaks more things than it fixes. A Destructive Recovery totally obliterates everything on your computer and makes the computer look just like it did when you first bought it. You will lose all of your data and all of your programs will need to be reinstalled.

System Recovery is a tool of last resort. We rarely have to use System Recovery. We have other ways of fixing Windows that work much better and cause fewer problems than System Recovery. We also always make a full backup of a computer before we work on it to make sure your important data is not lost.

Yet another similar process is a repair install. If your computer didn’t come with System Recovery, then it probably came with a Windows Reinstallation CD. One manufacturer that uses this method is Dell. This CD can be used to do what is called a repair install. A repair install is kind of like installing Windows on top of Windows. This can often fix Windows problems, but like System Restore and System Recovery, it can also create a lot of problems too. And as we mentioned, we have better ways to fix Windows that don’t cause problems.

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