Windows System Restore - What Does It Do?

Microsoft Windows has a feature known as System Restore - available in Windows 7, 8 and 10 - but what does it actually do, and when would you use it?

System Restore is turned on by default in current versions of Windows, and will automatically create a "restore point" when changes are detected such as program or driver installations. It will back up some registry items, system files and the like.

It's not a backup as such, but it may be thought of as sort of "undo" if something goes wrong with Windows. You can access System Restore from Safe Mode too, if Windows fails to complete a normal boot.

Generally, you will have access to several levels of "undo", and can go back and forth between versions. While it's not a panacea, I have found it most useful in cases where drivers really get screwed up (such as with video, sound or wireless drivers).

Note that data files and folders generally will not be affected by System Restore - except for items stored on the Desktop, they may be subject to change during a restore, so you may want to copy or move them to My Documents (a protected folder) if that's a concern.

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