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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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System Restore

As you get more proficient on a PC, pressing Ctrl+Z—the keyboard shortcut for Undo—eventually becomes an unconscious reflex. In fact, you can sometimes spot veteran Windows fans twitching their Ctrl+Z fingers even when they’re not near the computer—after knocking over a cup of coffee, locking the keys inside the car, or blurting out something inappropriate in a meeting.

Windows offers the mother of all Undo commands: System Restore. This feature alone can be worth hours of your time and hundreds of dollars in consultant fees.

The pattern of things going wrong in Windows usually works like this: The PC works fine for a while, and then suddenly—maybe for no apparent reason, but most often following an installation or configuration change—it goes on the fritz. At that point, wouldn’t it be pleasant to be able to tell the computer, “Go back to the way you were yesterday, please”?

System Restore does exactly that. It “rewinds” your copy of Windows back to the condition it was in before you, or something you tried to install, messed it up. Best of all, System Restore doesn’t change your files. Your email, pictures, music, documents, and other files are left up to date.

Tip

If your PC manages to catch a virus, System Restore can even rewind it to a time before the infection—if the virus hasn’t gotten into your documents in such a way that you reinfect yourself after the system restore. An up-to-date antivirus program is a much more effective security blanket.

In fact, if you don’t ...

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