Exploring Windows 7 System Restore & Restore Previous Versions

Windows 7 System Restore

System Restore feature is available from Windows XP and it has been extended to Microsoft latest operating system Windows 7. System Restore utility in Windows XP and Vista is almost same with out much different indeed the utility is perfect saver for us in case of any thing goes wrong with the system.

This time Microsoft has worked really hard to come up with improved System Restore in windows 7, once you explore power of System Restore feature in Windows 7, We are sure you will start loving Windows 7 right now.

What is System Restore?

System Restore is like Undo command for Windows, hundreds of software you download and install on your computer, you make registry changes or delete files, you may change some settings knowingly or unknowingly. Chances are high that your system may become unstable or start crashing, in such cases only way to undo all these changes and restore your system to earlier time is via “System Restore Utility”.

Basically System Restore periodically takes snapshot of your system known as Restore points. These Restores points are created when you make any significant changes or install any device drivers. You can also manually create these Restore points via system restore utility, once these Restore points are created, you can restore your system to one of these restore points.

Disadvantages of System Restore in Windows XP and Vista

1. Every time you need to restore your full system which is time consuming

2. You can’t look inside your System Restore files

3. You can’t restore just one single file or folder.

4. You can’t restore specific part of your Windows like just System files, or User data etc.

Well the good news is, Windows 7 will offer more robust options and also overcomes above disadvantages.

Now let’s start with Exploring Windows 7 System Restore.

Windows 7 System Restore : – Windows 7 System Restore utility is merged with windows Backup utility. You can now use system restore with advance recovery to restore system using previously created “System Image” or straight way restore your Computer to original settings.

Windows 7 Advance System Recover with System Restore

Advance System Recovery with System Restore

Scan for Affected Programs : This feature of System Restore will let you to scan your system to find all Programs and files that were added from selected Restore point and programs and files that were delete from selected Restore point.

System Rerstore with Scan for affected Programs

Windows 7 System Restore

Now no need to stay in uncertainty about which programs will get deleted after you perfome System Restore, find out yourself by running Scan for Affected Programs and get list of all programs and files that will be deleted or added after System Restore.

Scan for Affected Programs

Windows 7 System Restore – Scan For affected programs

Restore previous versions : – A very handy feature of Windows 7 System Restore available with just one click away. Right click on any file or Folder and you will see “Restore previous versions” in context menu.

Windows 7 Restore Previous Versions

Restore Previous versions Right Click Context menu

Restore previous versions will list all Previous versions of selected file or folder from various restore points. You can simply copy, restore or open to see files from Previous Restore point. This makes Windows 7 System Restore free from need of full system restore. if you have accidentally deleted any specific file or folder you can use “Restore previous versions” feature to copy or restore to its original state.

Restore Previous Versions - Windows 7

Open Files from System Restore Point

Accessing Files & Folders of Previous Restore Point.

Please Note: Restore Previous versions is also available in Windows Vista Business, Ultimate and Enterprise edition along with Shadow Copy Feature.

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10 thoughts on “Exploring Windows 7 System Restore & Restore Previous Versions”

  1. NOTE: Windows 7 restore, just like any restore function employed by Microsoft doesn’t restore 100% completely. VERY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND!

    Thus, the term “complete system restore” is a 100% lie. Never ever use system restore by Microsoft software IF you wish for complete and 100% accurate backups.

    /Marcus – Computer Engineer

  2. 3. You can’t restore just one single file or folder.

    4. You can’t restore specific part of your Windows like just System files, or User data etc.

    Not exactly: there are some free utils to do so, f.e. Shadow Explorer…

  3. 1. Every time you need to restore your full system which is time consuming *WRONG*
    2. You can’t look inside your System Restore files *WRONG*
    3. You can’t restore just one single file or folder. *WRONG*
    4. You can’t restore specific part of your Windows like just System files, or User data etc. *WRONG*

    Ummm, you guys DO know that in Windows Vista or 7 you can pull out ANY file or folder from any system restore point and restore it to where ever you want right?!?! Right from windows explorer, no 3rd party utils required!

    RIGHT CLICK on the DRIVE that contains the files you want to restore (i.e. C:), click Properties. Click the “Previous Versions” tab and it will show you every date and time of any system restore point you have made. Double click on one and now you’ll be browsing a virtual image of your “old” hard drive (even folders you have since deleted will show up!). You can copy and paste any files or folders from this “virtual” image of your hard drive to any other location!! Works really well for recovering the Windows Registry manually after your hard drive dies (registry is in c:windowssystem32config and c:usersyourusernamentuser.dat)

    -Jamie M. (computer technician)

  4. Allen: See my post above… right click on the drive you want to restore files from, click properties. Click the “previous versions” tab, double click on the date and time of a restore point. Browse this “virtual” image of how your hard drive use to look, copy and paste out what you want. Done =)

    -Jamie M.

  5. After just using this method to recover data from a customers hard drive (the Users folder was missing from the hard drive, and normal undelete programs found no trace of it) I will tell you about some issues I ran in to with Windows copy (explorer):

    1. If it gets an error during the copy, and you click “skip file”, it aborts the entire copy operation. This is opposite to how it would normally behave.
    2. Windows copy only seems to copy the ACTUAL files that were backed up on that specific restore date, and doesn’t include any previous files from previous restore points, etc.
    3. If you are restoring these files using a different computer (i.e. you have transplanted the hard drive into another machine to recover the data) you might run into crazy permission problems on the folders (the “usersmy documents” folder and the registry folder “system32config” are two I had problems with). Because this is a read only “virtual” image you are unable to take ownership of the folder/files to get access to them like you normally would.

    Solution… Use Windows Server 2008 R2 with TeraCopy. You can download a free copy of Server 2008 R2 from Microsoft that works flawless for this purpose:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/trial-software.aspx

    Server 2K8 R2 seems to ignore any of the special permissions assigned to the folders, and TeraCopy sees the perfect virtual image of the hard drive, including both files that were backed up at that restore point, as well as filling in any files that weren’t with files from previous backups!! *Hint: Rather then trying to browse to the file you want to recover and drilling down to it folder by folder, if you remember where it was, just right click on the folder that contained it, TeraCopy it somewhere on your computer and VOILA! Like magic all the current and old files are in there… So funny when you see it in action “windows explorer said the folder was empty (because it contained no backups on that specific restore point) but I TeraCopied the folder to my hard drive and my 37 gigs of pictures and music is back!” lol! Nutty!

    Woot for shadow copy, free server 2008 R2 and free TeraCopy.

    -Jamie M.

  6. unreasonable deletion

    windows 7 is deleting all restore points without permission or warning on shutdown. system restore is also disabled myteriously with no ability to re enable it

  7. Hello,
    I’m desperately trying to do a system restoration from Recovery Environment (because the computer will not boot). But although I specifically created a restore point manually only a couple of weeks ago, it says it cannot find any restore points. Is there any way to help it find one, perhaps using the OS prompt?
    Any advice greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,

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