How do I enable and disable Windows XP's System Restore feature?

A. System Restore (i.e., restorept.api) is a new Windows XP feature that's similar to "Last Known Configuration." However, System Restore maintains multiple restore points instead of one last restore point. The user can manually create restore points, or System Restore can keep restore points during the following operations:

  • Installing new software, if the application uses a current installer that is System Restore-compliant
  • Using AutoUpdate
  • During a restore operation
  • During a Microsoft backup or recovery operation
  • Installing an unsigned driver
  • Automatically following 24 hours of inactivity

By default, System Restore monitors all partitions. So, for example, if you delete an executable file, you can have the system state revert to a specific restore point to recreate or repair the executable file. When you revert to a restore point, however, you lose all changes since that point, except for changes to files in the My Documents folder and documents you've created with applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

If you use System Restore and don't like the new system state, you can undo the process and restore the machine to the system state it had before you ran System Restore. Alternatively, you can run System Restore to change the system state to a different restore point.

To enable or disable System Restore, perform the following steps:

  1. Start the System Control Panel applet (go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, System).
  2. Select the System Restore tab.
  3. Clear the "Turn off System Restore on all drives" check box to enable System Restore, or select this check box to disable System Restore.
    Click here to view image
  4. Click OK.

You can also click the Settings button to set a maximum amount of space that you want each drive to use for restore information. If the drive you select isn't the system drive, you can also disable System Restore on a per-drive basis. The maximum amount of space that you can use for restore information is 12 percent per drive.

An alternative to the usual method of enabling and disabling Windows XP's System Restore feature is to use the registry. To use this alternative, perform the following steps:

  1. Start the registry editor (regedit.exe).
  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SystemRestore.
  3. If a DisableSR value doesn't exist, go to the Edit menu, select New, DWORD value, and create the value.
  4. Set the value to 1 to disable System Restore or 0 to enable System Restore.
  5. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\sr to prevent the System Restore service from starting.
  6. Double-click Start, and set the value to 4 to stop the service from starting or to 0 for normal startup.
  7. Close the registry editor.
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