Creating and Using Restore Points


The ongoing battle with malware (viruses, trojans, internet worms) has put computers and their software at greater risk than ever before. At the very least you should have EXACTLY one antivirus program (you cannot have more than one on your machine at a time) and AT LEAST TWO anti-malware programs installed on your machine as well. You need to make sure the malware and virus patterns are up to date every several days and you should run a full scan using each program about once a month, more frequently if you go to a lot of websites.

However, even with that level of protection you can still get “hit”. So, I am going to give you another tool in your arsenal that can protect your computer, the Restore Point. I have been whacked 5 times in the past 12 months with malware and the restore point has saved my machine each and every time. The first thing you will need to do is increase the drive space allotted to your restore points. You will only do this once. You will manually make a restore point at least once a week. It only takes a few minutes so there is no excuse not to do this weekly. These restore points will be saved on your computer in the space allotted in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Your computer will also automatically make a restore point every time Microsoft does a system update.  As more restore points are created the older ones are deleted to make room for the newer ones.

If you never get hit with malware you never need to worry about restore points as long as you keep them current. Think of it as an insurance policy…there if you need it, invisible if you don’t. However if you do need it you can restore your computer from the restore point and set yourself up just as you were before you were hit in a matter of minutes AND you are back in business with no loss of data very quickly and inexpensively. You just need to make sure you select a restore point from a point in time, not too far back, BUT BEFORE you were hit with the malware. Time is of the essence because restore points do not last forever. Depending on space they can be gone in anywhere from 3 days to two weeks. If you wait too long, a restore point you need will no longer be available to you. Obviously increasing the space allotted to restore points extends that time of availability.

Ok then, let’s get started. First you need to get to the place where you can deal with restore points. Click the start button (Microsoft bubble)>Computer>System Properties.

Click System protection.


Make sure the System Protection tab is selected. When you see the window below you will click Configure to up the space available to restore points.

Adjust the slider bar to get as close as you can to 10GB. Some systems only allow you up to 8. In that case run the slider to the max all the way to the right. MAKE SURE THAT” Restore system settings and previous versions of files” IS CHECKED AT THE TOP. By default on some machine “Turn off system protection” is checked. Click OK when done to exit. Once you have set the space you will never have to change it again on this computer, but it is critical that you do it because the default amount of space is just not adequate to store restore points for more than a couple of days.

Now to create a restore point come back to the screen above and click the Create button.

You will see the window below. You will have to name your restore point. I typically name mine with my name and the current date. So the one for today I will call jeff061311 since today’s date is June 13, 2011. You can call them whatever you want but I like that convention. Then click the Create button.

You will see this as it is creating the restore point. It make take up to 2 minutes or so.

When it is done you will see this. Click Close. Your restore point was created successfully.

You can then close all of the open windows and continue about your business. Hopefully you will never need that restore point.

BUT, what if you get hit with malware and your computer needs to be fixed. Assuming you have kept up to date on your restore points you are probably in pretty good shape.

Go to the window below (just like you did above). This time we will restore from the restore point. This time you will click the “System Restore” button.

You will see the following screen, after a short delay. Click Next.

You will now see the restore points in revers chronological order (most recent first). You ALWAYS want to select the most recent restore point BEFORE you were hit with the infection. When in doubt, go back further in time. Notice that Microsoft create two restore points automatically when it did a system update. Now if you need to go back further click the “Show more restore points” checkbox and then click Next. If the ones you see are good enough, click on it and then click Next. Keep in mind that MAJOR updates often kill restore points so it is IMPERATIVE you manually create restore points periodically…AT LEAST once a week and DEFINITELY after a Microsoft update. Follow the directions on the screen and your computer will be restored to what it was like based on the time the restore point was created.

NOTE: if you restore to a point before an update or before you loaded a software application, you will have to reinstall that application or update. HOWEVER, any data files you created (such as images, word files etc.) will be preserved, you will not lose those. On occasion restoring may also reset the hidden attributes markers for your files and icons. If that happens just see one of us in Informatics for further directions.