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 and for starting a System Restore 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, with the goal of returning the Windows Registry, program files and system files to the versions that were part of the Restore Point.
The step opens a dialog box that simply explains what System Restore does and gives you a chance to read some of the background information about System Restore (click on the "Is this process reversible?" link to read more).
All you need to do is click on the Next button at the bottom of this huge dialog box.
The next dialog box lists the various restore points that you have available. It shows the date and time, the description you chose to enter (if it’s one you created manually by clicking the Create… button on the System Properties / System Protection dialog box).
Note that you can show more restore points, if the one you want isn’t listed. That presumes that you have more restore points…
I like the button "Scan for affected programs," which will examine the computer’s current state to see what is going to change.
We get a pretty little dialog box to show us that Windows 7 is scanning. As usual, the green indicator in the bar goes back and forth as it works.
Now, we see the real results. In this case, I had started with System Protection turned off and all Restore Points deleted.
Why might you want to turn off System Protection and delete Restore Points? If you have a malware infection and can’t back up far enough to "undo" it, then you will want to delete all the Restore Points.
Otherwise, if you successfully System Restore to wipe out the infection, you will want to delete all subsequent Restore Points so you don’t accidentally reinfect your system with a later System Restore.
However, I didn’t have that problem. I turned got rid of the Restore Points to have a clean list for this article.
I created a Restore Point first. Then, I installed a new version of the program Notepad++ (a free, open-source programmer’s editor) so that I could have something to show in this dialog box.
Here, you can see that the latest version of Notepad++ (version 5.6.8) will be deleted and that the System Restore might successfully restore Notepad++ v.5.5. We’re warned that the program might not work correctly and might have to be reinstalled anyway.
When we close that preview dialog box, we see the final dialog box. This one allows us to confirm that, yes, this really is the Restore Point that we want to use.
If it’s not, we can click the Back button to change Restore Points.
If it is the correct Restore Point, click the Finish button.
After Finishing the System Restore, we’re ready to try our Windows 7 system again and, hopefully, find that the problems are solved.