David Nelson wants to know if it’s a good idea to delete all of his system restore points and start fresh.
It’s occasionally a good idea, but losing all of your past restore points has considerable risks. Should you decide, tomorrow, that you need to restore Windows to where it was the day before yesterday, you’ll be out of luck.
You can’t delete individual restore points because no single one is a self-contained whole. To save disk space, System Restore saves only changes made since the previous restore point was created. If Windows creates a new restore point every day, and you tell it on Friday to restore back to Monday, it must successfully restore the points from Thursday, Wednesday, and Tuesday before it can reach Monday’s. If Thursday’s restore point is corrupt, you can’t get to Wednesday’s.
If System Restore is failing to restore your system, starting fresh may be your best option. At least future restore points will work.
It’s also a good idea after cleaning up malware. Otherwise, you might accidentally reinfect your PC by restoring the wrong point.
To refresh System Restore in XP, click Start, then run, type sysdm.cpl, and press ENTER. Click the System Restore tab. Check Turn off System Restore and click Apply, then Yes. After the long wait is over and you can access that dialog box again, uncheck Turn off System Restore and click OK.
In Vista, click Start, type sysdm.cpl, and press ENTER. Click the System Protection tab. Uncheck all available disks, and confirm that you want to Turn System Restore Off. Click Apply. After waiting, recheck the box next to C:, and then click Apply again.
For Windows 7, click Start, type sysdm.cpl, and press ENTER. Click the System Protection tab. Select your C: drive and click the Configure button. Select Turn off system protection and click Apply. After Windows finishes processing this command, select Restore system settings and previous versions of files and click OK.
Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at email@example.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.