Windows 8 Restore Points

I blew up Windows twice in the last few days, and it’s starting to get annoying, so I dug into how system recovery and “restore points” work.

In my case, I installed Virtual Box because I have a never-ending desire to have Mac OS on a virtual machine, so I occasionally dabble with that. In this case, I tried to boot to the iBoot image that supposedly will do this. I Hyper-V it hangs. In VirtualBox, it crashes VirtualBox. Then, a few seconds later I lost my network connection in Windows, so I rebooted. When I did, it just hung on the black loading screen. I did F8 and Shift+F8 to enter recovery mode. So yeah, I stepped in it.

By the way, iBoot, just like all the others that claim to work – doesn’t work.

If you don’t have a “Restore Point” set up, then Windows likely did one for you a while ago. So, you can “refresh” your PC back to an earlier point. It explains on the screen what it does – but basically you don’t lose your files or settings – but it does the equivalent of uninstalling your windows apps. It’s a pain.

I then discovered that you can explicitly create your own restore points, so that if things do go awry, you can restore back to a known-good state. This isn’t really a backup – as this isn’t talking about your data, it’s more like a backup of the state of the programs installed on your computer.

Setting the Restore Point:
Anywhere you see Computer (like if you open Windows Explorer), right click on Computer and choose Properties. From there, choose System Protection:

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from this tab, click on Configure:

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Choose “Turn on system protection”, if it isn’t already:

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In my case, I also clicked “Delete” to get rid of any previous Restore Points because I don’t really want to go back to anything other than right-now, when everything is working. Click OK.

Back on that System Properties dialog, click “Create” to explicitly choose right now as a restore point. I named mine this:

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Using the Restore Point:
OK, so if you find that Windows8 hangs on boot-up or you have another trouble, you can hit F8 just after after the BIOS screen (but before the Windows screen) to load the Recovery options. I just hit F8 a bunch of times as the computer is booting. You’ll see this screen:

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click “See advanced repair options”:

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click “Troubleshoot”:

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Now click “Advanced Options”. Note that this is the screen where you can re-install or simply “refresh” the Windows installation and this DID work for me one time. In this case though, if you did create a restore point, that would be the best thing to try first.

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From here you can click “System Restore”. You will be prompted to log in, and the you are presented with a wizard:

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As you can see, your restore point is there. Choose that and Windows will do it’s best to put your system back to that state (in terms of installed programs and registry entries, from what I can tell).

I haven’t had to use this method yet – well, I didn’t have this in place before I needed it. So, now that it’s set up, hopefully it will save me some time. The key is to create the restore point now, when everything is installed and working correctly!

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