- Windows 7
- Windows XP
- Windows Vista
- Microsoft Updates
- Windows Updates
- Adobe Flash
- Adobe Updates
- Boot Up Errors
- Clean Up PC
- Error Codes
- Hard Drive
- Installer Errors
- Internet Explorer
- Virtual Memory
- Java Errors
- Java Updates
- Uninstall Errors
- Malware and Spyware
- Media Player
- Speed Up PC
- Speed Up Downloads
- AOL Issues
- AOL Mail
- Slow Start Up
- Runtime Errors
- Optimize Windows Services
- Rundll Errors
- Outlook Express
- Personal Tech
- Social Networking
- In the News
- Migrating to Windows 7
- Fixing PC Errors in 6 Steps
- WINDOWS 8
Restoring Windows seems rather complicated without that handy disk to just throw into the computer, but it’s actually a bit easier than you might think. You can even create your own new handy CDs if it makes you feel more comfortable, but it’s actually not necessary. You can restore Windows 7 without any disks at all. It’s a built-in feature of the new operating system.
Before you start any sort of system repair or restore, be sure that you have your Windows Registration Key. It can found in the paperwork that came with your computer or you may be able to find it on the label stuck to the back of your computer. It’s a good idea to store this number on a paper file or in your phone’s memory where you’ll have it on hand when you need it.
In Microsoft systems prior to Vista, a recovery CD was sent along with the computer in case the new owner ran into trouble. Starting with Vista, Microsoft decided to stop sending the CDs as it was no longer necessary to use the external software to boot up the computer. Instead, it’s now possible to recover Windows from Windows 7 itself.
The hard drive in a Windows 7 computer is split up into partitions. These sections of the hard drive are split so that they can function and be backed up separately as the user desires. This is especially important for the Master Boot Record which is kept in the MSR partition – it’s the only file kept in this first slot on the hard drive, so if any problems occur, it’s easy to get there before problem areas actually load.
What is a Restore Point?
When you restore your computer using System Restore, you’re going to return your machine to a point in the past where things were working better for you. This is a restore point. Your computer is already making restore points every week or so and you can create your own restore points by clicking on Start and then right-clicking on Computer. Then click on Properties.
A box will pop open. In that box, click on System protection along the left side. Another box will open.
Click on the System Protection tab and then click on the button that says Create to create a restore point.
You’ll be prompted to type in a title for the restore point and then, once you’ve entered your text, you can click on Create and the restore point will be made.
This procedure is most useful if you’re about to make changes to your computer or download new software that you’re unsure about. It is not necessary to make a restore point if your computer is already acting oddly – you’d just be preserving a memory of it right now instead of a week or two ago when it was working well.
Restoring the Computer to a Previous Point
If your computer isn’t acting well, then you’ll want to use a prior restore point. To do this, you’ll have the help of a wizard, fortunately.
Save any work you have open as you’ll be restarting your computer as part of this process. Then, click on the Start menu and then type “System Restore” in the Search box. Click on System Restore when it appears in the menu.
A wizard software box will appear to help lead you through the process of restoring your computer to a previous point. Be sure that any recent documents or pictures you’ve uploaded are backed up before you begin.
In the dialogue box, read the warnings and then click on Next to start the process.
The next screen of the System Restore Wizard will give you options of restore points. You can see additional restore points by selecting Show me more restore points.
Select a point when you weren’t experiencing a lag or an unresponsive computer and then select Next. By following the remaining steps, the computer will be restarted and returned to this earlier point.
Create Backup Disks
If you’re concerned that your computer may at some point in the future become so terribly troubled that it doesn’t work at all, a restore point won’t help you very much. After all, you may not even be able to reach that point. For the worst kinds of trouble, you need to plan ahead and create a system repair disc.
Creating a system repair disc is very straightforward, and having one on hand can feel like a lifesaver if you find yourself facing a blue screen or a totally unresponsive machine.
To create the system repair disc, click on Start and then type “system repair” into the Search box. Click on Create a system repair disc program when it appears in the search results.
A small pop-up window will appear.
Follow the instructions and insert a disc into the specified drive. Then click on Create disc. The disc will be created and you’ll need to put it in a safe place. It’s not a reformatting disc, but instead a means of entry into Windows even if nothing else is working. From there you’ll be able to restore your computer to a previous point or return it to its factory settings.
To use the disc, insert it into the machine (once it’s created, of course) and restart your machine. When the computer starts to load, you’ll be given an option to “hit any key to boot from a CD”. Hit any key and then follow the instructions that appear in the System Recover tool box. These include Start-up repair to fix problems that may just be affecting Startup procedures and the System Restore.
Backing Up Files Outside of the Computer
The greatest risk with any sort of system restore is that you’ll lose data, files or programs. Creating restore points may give you a way to protect your newest information, but it’s impractical to back up your computer every time you download a picture or write a new document.
Instead you should consider a dynamic way to protect your data - in addition to protecting your system as a whole. By backing up your files off your computer, you can hedge against crashes or malware attack or even voluntary Windows restores that may erase newly entered data. Many people use a flash drive or an external hard drive as a means to backing up files in order to protect them. To get a review of external hard drives, as well as the things to look for when buying, see our article on using external drives.
The other option is virtual storage, sometimes called cloud storage. Storing files and pictures using rental services provided by Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft can protect your files and also make them available from virtually any machine. It's a sure way to remove your media and documents from harm's way, and the latest innovations in interfacing coupled with advanced security have made cloud storage a competitive option. Click here to see our survey of the top cloud drive services, complete with comparisons of what they offer.