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Who Invited All These Restore Points?

Restore points can take a lot of room on users' PCs. The default may be 12% of each drive's total space—a hefty block of rooms in Hotel XP just to stash a few system files, except that they're saved again and again to different rooms over time. Theoretically, there should be a lot of restore points on your drives, but in practice there may be fewer than you think. It's a good idea to see how many there are and how far back they go before worrying too much, but you can dim the welcome sign and toss out the most useless moochers.

First, you can go to the System Restore Wizard and change the amount of disk space allowed for each drive, much like the way you adjust the amount of disk space taken by the Recycle Bin.

Choose System Restore Settings (see Figure 4) to display the System Settings dialog box, with the System Restore tab selected. Select a drive, click Settings, and adjust the size by moving the slider until it's on the desired percent of the drive. As with the Recycle Bin, you can also select an option to turn off System Restore—a rather unforgiving way to clean out old restore points fast. A reminder: If you turn off System Restore on the drive where Windows lives, it must be shut off on all drives.

Figure 04Figure 4 You can reclaim disk space by reducing the amount of space that System Restore is allowed to use.

As System Restore runs out of allotted space, it gets rid of the oldest restore points, but there are reasons to clean house anyway. For example, a user could do something stupid and cause a drive to get infected. You come in and scrub the file or reinstall it from the manufacturer's file, and go back to work in IT. The next week, the user puts on a bad driver that thrashes things, and he knows just enough to perform System Restore. The driver comes back. And so does the virus you swept away the week before.

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