Some Windows Update 'updates' are turning out to be toxic for some PCs. Learn how to protect yourself from software screwups with System Restore.
System Restore, originally one of the few bright spots in the generally ill-starred operating system known as Windows Me, is a standard feature in both Windows XP and Windows Vista. It enables you to roll your system's configuration back to a specified point. To use it to protect yourself against faulty updates (as well as other problems), don't rely on automatic restore points. Instead, create your own restore point before you install updates with Windows Update. To learn how to install updates on your schedule, rather than automatically, see Tip #2 in this series.
To create a restore point, start System Restore from the System Tools section of the Accessories menu. In Windows XP, select the option to create a restore point. In Windows Vista, select the option to start System Protection. When prompted, create the restore point and provide a description.
If you need to restore your system to that restore point, you can do it by running System Restore from the Start menu and selecting a particular restore point to revert to. However, if you cannot start your system normally, you can start Windows XP in Safe Mode and run System Restore after the system boots. With Windows Vista, you can start the system with WinRE (Windows Recovery Environment - boot from the DVD or WinRE disc or partition) and select Repair My Computer. Choose System Restore from the repair menu, and choose the restore point to revert to. By creating a restore point before you install updates (either delivered by Windows Update or installed manually), you enable a 'backdoor' to return your system to health if a half-baked solution gets installed on your system.