Disabling or enabling Windows XP System Restore

You want to know how to turn off or turn on the Windows XP System Restore feature.


System Restore, a Windows XP feature, is similar to the "Last Known Good Configuration" in Windows NT and Windows 2000. You can use System Restore to restore the computer to a previous state, using the backups that it makes of selected system files and program files. Unlike the "Last Known Good Configuration" feature, System Restore maintains multiple restore points. This gives you the choice of restoring your computer to any number of previously saved states.

While this is a desirable feature, in some cases it should be temporarily turned off. For example, if the computer is infected with a virus, then it is possible that the virus could be backed up by System Restore. By default, Windows prevents System Restore from being modified by outside programs. As a result, there is the possibility that you could restore a virus-infected file, or that the on-line scanners would detect the virus in that location.

Disabling System Restore does not delete or remove any of your personal data from your computer. The only files removed are those that System Restore created, the restore points. Using System Restore to revert to a previously saved restore point does not affect any of your personal data files or any items in your My Documents folder. For more information search the Microsoft Windows Help (Click Start > Help and Support) and search for "System Restore Overview" and "Understanding System Restore." These documents explain what System Restore is, how it works, and more information about the effects of turning it on or off.

    • You must be logged in as an Administrator to do this. If you are not logged in as an Administrator, the System Restore tab will not be displayed. If you do not know how to log in as Administrator, contact your system administrator (if you are on a network), the computer manufacturer, or installer.
    • Turning off System Restore will delete all previous restore points. You must create new restore points once you turn System Restore back on.

To turn off Windows XP System Restore
  1. Click Start > Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer
  2. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the System Restore tab.
  4. Check the "Turn off System Restore" or "Turn off System Restore on all drives" check box as shown in this illustration:

  5. Click Apply. The following message appears:

  6. As noted in the message, this will delete all existing restore points. Click Yes to do this.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Proceed with what you need to do. For example, removing viruses. Restart the computer and follow the instructions in the next section to turn on System Restore.

To turn on Windows XP System Restore
  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the System Restore tab.
  4. Uncheck the "Turn off System Restore" or "Turn off System Restore on all drives" check box.
  5. Click Apply, and then click OK.

System Restore will create regular backups of selected system files and program files. For more information, read the Microsoft Knowledge Base article, How to: Restore Windows XP to a Previous State, Q306084.

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