Simply put, System Restore can save your rear end by taking a snapshot of your system at any given time and allowing you to go back to that snapshot should you ever experience problems with your system. An advantage of this program is its ability to undo the restore process once it's done. For example, you can restore your system and if you want to go back to the way it was before the restore - simply undo it.
It's a very simple utility to use and should be used as a safeguard in case your system becomes unstable or problematic and you can't pinpoint the exact cause. Newbies should be keen to utilise this feature because of its ease of use, but more experienced users should also take note, as it can make basic configuration troubleshooting operations easier and less mundane.
To be able to use this utility you will first need to ensure that the System Restore feature is enabled. To do this, go to the Control Panel and double-click the System icon. Click on the Performance tab and from there click on File System. Make sure that "Disable System Restore" is unchecked: you won't be able to run the Restore utility unless this feature is enabled. While it's enabled, it will automatically keep tabs on your system for you by creating check points, but for best results you will need to create system restore points manually. By doing it manually, you will know exactly to which point to jump back; if you don't want this feature constantly on, you can keep it disabled and enable it only when you want to perform a restore point.
To launch System Restore, navigate to Start-Programs-Accessories-System Tools-System Restore. The first time you run the program you will only have one option available to you - "Create a restore point". The next screen is where you enter a description of the restore point, and it's a good idea to be as accurate as possible. For example, I am creating a restore point before installing the latest beta version of online chat software ICQ, so I am going to name the restore point something to the effect of "system configuration prior to installing ICQ". The date and time of the restore point will automatically be recorded by the program, so there is no need to add these to your naming convention. Clicking on the Next button will confirm the new restore point and you need to click OK to finish.
If any problems arise that make my system unstable, and I suspect that ICQ has something to do with the problem, I can easily get back to my previous configuration by selecting the restore point I created earlier. To go back, I simply start System Restore once again and from the first screen I select "Restore my computer to an earlier time". From the next screen I then select the restore point that I accurately named, and click on Next. You will receive a warning telling you to close all open programs every time you try a restore operation; just click OK to proceed. The confirmation screen shows the selected restore point and, most importantly, also lets you know that you will not lose any data by doing this. Click on Next to proceed. A progress bar appears on the next screen and the system is then automatically restarted. After the restoration process is complete, ICQ now ceases to exist on my computer - although its directory and non-program files still reside on my drive.
If for any reason you want to undo a restore operation that you have just performed, simply launch System Restore again and select the third option that now appears on the first screen - "Undo my last restoration". You can only undo the most recently performed restoration.