Windows 7's System Protection, the new, more accurate name for System Restore, continues the fine tradition of creating "Restore Points" for critical system files that first showed up in Windows XP.
System Restore is now renamed to be the portion of System Protection that actually returns the Windows system (but not your data) to the state backed up in a Restore Point. Of course, System Restore creates its own Restore Point before rolling back to the earlier version. That way, if System Restore does not solve the problem, you can reverse System Restore’s action.
In the case of Windows 7, the controls for managing System Protection’s restore point creation are found on the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.
You’ll find it through the route Start Menu > Control Panel > System and Security > System. Then, on the left side of the dialog box, click on the System Protection selection.
That will open the System Properties dialog box, with the System Protection tab already selected.
The System Restore… button is the button to start the actual restore process, returning the Windows Registry, program files and system files to the versions that were part of the Restore Point.
In the case of Windows 7, the controls for turning on System Restore (now called System Protection) are in the Protection Settings portion of System Protection tab.
These will give you the ability to turn System Protection on or off on an individual drive basais. If you have multiple partitions on your hard drive or multiple hard drives in your computer (not external hard drives), you can also control whether System Protection works on each drive individually and how much space on the drive System Protection uses.
First, click to select a particular hard drive or hard drive partition and then click the "Configure…" button, you get the System Protection for Local Disk dialog box. Here, you can change the amount of disk space on that drive that is reserved for System Restore Points. If you don’t click to select a drive or drive partition, Windows XP will select the Windows drive (usually C:).
In the same dialog box, you can also change the type of System Protection that is provided by the Restore Points (which will also affect how much space and time is required to create each restore point). System Protection will back up copies of Windows System files, the Windows Registry and program files. or, you can choose to back up only the program files.
Below, you can see the minimum space that Windows 7 will allocate for C: System Restore Points if System Restore is not disabled is shown as 1 percent of the drive, although that’s not quite accurate. On this 1 TB drive, the minimum size is actually 1,000 MB, or 1 GB. That’s actually 1/10th of 1 percent.
The maximum that Windows 7 is considerably more than Windows XP’s maximum. Windows 7 will allocate up to 100 percent of the drive to System Restore.
This is time for a reminder — System Protection and Restore Points are not the same thing as a system backup or a hard drive backup. They do not back up your data files.
Windows 7 provides Backup and Restore to create and restore images of your hard drive. Windows 7 "Restore" can not access individual files or folders in the disk images. Restoration is an all-or-nothing event.
That’s why I use Acronis True Image Home 2010 for my image backups and restores. It can even read and manipulate images from Windows Backup, including recovering individual files and folders from within those images.
As usual when Microsoft incorporates a utility into Windows, Backup and Restore are fairly bare-bones programs. Third-party utilities provide more functions and more flexibility.