If something has happened to your computer recently that caused it to fail, you may be able to fix it by running Windows System Restore. Whether the problem resulted from a virus, a Windows update, some software you installed, or any unknown cause, System Restore will put your computer back to the way it was at some point in the past. It will not remove any files that you created in those past few days.
This is accomplished in roughly the same way in Windows Vista or XP. In some cases, you may need to boot into Safe Mode in order to have a system stable enough to run System Restore. To start up in Safe Mode, shut your computer all the way down. Then press the button to restart it, and while it's starting, press the F8 key. (You may want to press it a several times as it starts so you will press it at the proper moment.)
To use Windows Restore:
- Click the “Start” or “Windows” button in the lower left corner.
- Click “All Programs.”
- Click “Accessories.”
- Click System Tools.”
- Click “System Restore.”
- Select the option to “Restore my computer to an earlier time” and click “Next.”
- You will be shown dates in the past when a Restore point was set. Select the most recent date that your computer still worked, then click “Next.”
The process will take a while to copy files. It should restart your computer when it is finished, and hopefully your computer will work normally after that. The Restore process will not erase any files that you have created or changed since that date; it will only undo system changes that have happened since then.
Before you have any computer problems, you'll need to make sure that system restores are enabled to allow you to use this capability. Use steps 1 through 5, above, to access System Restore, then click the Settings link on the left. Make sure the Turn Off box is not checked. Use the slider to select how much disk place you want to use for system restores. The more space you allocate, the more restore points it can keep. Since, in most cases, you're only interested in recent restore points, having a great number of possible points is probably not that important. If you need the disk space, you can decrease the setting by moving the slider to the left, then click “OK.”