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Make Your Own Point

To create a restore point, open the System Restore Wizard (see Figure 2). Choose Create a Restore Point and click Next. Enter a descriptive name for the restore point in the text box. You might use a name like this:

Before installing Monkey Wrench 

Don't waste name field space with the date and time—System Restore adds them to the restore point automatically. Just be sure that the name will be useful, because you won't be able to rename it. You may even want to establish a protocol for the information needed in the name, and the order in which you want it to appear. An evolved system might have a restore point like this:

Before Monkey Wrench 8.2 driver, released 7/3/2003. --Henry Thorough

Figure 02Figure 2 The System Restore Wizard helps create restore points, as well as roll back to them. Here the wizard helps create an effective restore point name.

Then click Create. Figure 3 shows the results.

Figure 03Figure 3 After creating the restore point, System Restore Wizard shows the finished name, with date and time automatically inserted.

Now, if you've backed up other data through usual best practices, you're ready to throw that Monkey Wrench into the system, and see if it's what the PC needed. If it starts breaking things, you're free to pop back into System Restore and go for a potentially free-and-easy undo.

As with most time travel, of course, things can go a little wrong. With System Restore, it's often that more was lost than the troublemaking file. You can undo your big undo by going back to System Restore and choosing Undo My Last Restoration. Then you may be able to salvage and hide whatever was lost, before repeating the System Restore.

Since any nipping and tucking can mess up something, restoring (which is really undoing a recent change), and then undoing (which is really restoring to a point before a kind of undo) can leave you with new errors. The advantage is that if you were in some kind of trouble to begin with, and you made a proper backup before trying System Restore, at least you have a shot at making things right without doing a Windows reinstall or formatting the drive. You can always fall back on Door #3—the thing you would have done if you hadn't tried System Restore. Just arrange everything in the order of least harm/work to most harm/work, and you should make the right choice without having to give it much thought.

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