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Microsoft Windows XP comes with a handy program called “System Restore.” This program takes snap shots of your computer’s settings, which allows you to roll back your computer configuration to a time in the past. Here’s what you need to know about this tool and its uses:
Found by clicking on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore
Click on the image to the left to see the window that should come up. System Restore does not restore your data from the past; it only restores your configuration. This can be helpful if something gets corrupted and you receive error messages each time your computer starts up, for example. In this case, you could restore your system to a time before the errors. Often times this solves the problem. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you have installed any programs recently, you will have to reinstall them if you roll back your system to a date before you installed those programs. But again, your saved documents (such as Word or Excel files) will not be altered.
System Restore is enabled by default in Windows XP and requires a certain percentage of your hard drive space to run properly. Also, if your computer gets infected with a virus that you subsequently clean using an anti-virus program, a copy of the virus may still be lurking in a dormant mode if System Restore has been taking snap shots of your configuration. In other words, it’s best to disable System Restore when removing viruses so as to eliminate the possibility of the virus coming back.
If you’d like to disable System Restore for whatever reason, you can right click on My Computer, then click on Properties, and then click on the System Restore tab. There you have an option to disable it. Click on the image to the left to see what it should look like.