By Steve Bass | Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 1:05 pm
I gave up on Windows System Restore. Yep, I turned the feature off and replaced it with a freebie I like better.
System Restore is a recovery tool built into Windows that backs up and restores the Registry. System Restore takes a snapshot of your computer — called a restore point — once a day, as well as before you perform certain tasks, such as installing a new program. If all goes well, you can use a restore point later on to bring your PC back to the state it was in when the snapshot was taken. But remember, we’re talking about computers.
Sometimes System Restore doesn’t work. You click a restore point and Windows has a hearty, gleeful laugh. The problem is that each restore point is linked to previous points; if one is corrupt or missing, you’re out of luck: System Restore won’t work. (Learn more about the ins and outs of System Restore in Bert Kinney’s smart and thorough FAQ.)
For the last year, I’ve been using the Emergency Recovery Utility NT. Affectionately known as ERUNT, it’s a free tool that automatically backs up your Registry and allows you to restore it. And despite its name, it works with Windows XP and Vista, including 64-bit editions.
The tremendous advantage of ERUNT is that each restore point is independent of the other points. If one goes kaflooey, the others will still work. It’s also nice to be able to back up a restore point to an external drive or stick it onto an online storage site.
I let ERUNT do its backup thing each morning; when you install it, that’s the default. The program saves a week of restore points (plenty, in my opinion) and automatically deletes older ones. You can set a restore point manually at any time, too.
The downside is ERUNT doesn’t automatically set a restore point if you do something that has the potential to hose your Registry, by, say, installing a driver. You can rectify that by remembering to run ERUNT just before you do the deed.
ERUNT backs up your Registry automatically.
If you have a fiddling gene, there are a bunch of command-line switches to play with. For instance, /dir=”x:folder name” will override the default directory name. With that gene in mind, I’m guessing you’ll enjoy Peter Bromberg’s right-on-the-money Practice “Safe Computer” with regular automated Registry Backups article.
My advice? Keep Windows System Restore enabled for a couple of months until you become confident that ERUNT is as dependable as I say it is. When you’re ready, disable System Restore. From the Control Panel, click System, choose the System Restore tab, and select the “Turn off System Restore on all drives” check box. Click OK, and then click Yes to turn off System Restore.
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