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Windows XP Professional: The Missing Manual by L.J. Zacker, Craig Zacker, David Pogue

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Chapter 16. Maintenance, Backups, and Troubleshooting

Like you, its human sidekick, your computer requires periodic checkups and preventive maintenance. Fortunately, Microsoft has put quite a bit of effort into equipping Windows XP with special tools, all dedicated to the preservation of what Microsoft calls PC Health. Here’s a crash course in keeping your PC—and its hard drive—humming.

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 car with the keys inside, or blurting out something inappropriate in a meeting.

Windows XP offers one feature in particular that you might think of as 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 PC back to the condition it was in before you, or something you tried to install, messed it up.

Of course, ...

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