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How to restore Windows XP to a previous state

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

To continue receiving security updates for Windows, make sure you're running Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3).For more information, refer to this Microsoft web page: Support is ending for some versions of Windows

INTRODUCTION
This article describes how to use the System Restore tool to return your computer to a previous state. System Restore takes "snapshots" of critical system files and some program files and registry settings and stores this information as restore points. If your computer is not functioning correctly, you can use these restore points to return Windows XP to a previous state when your computer was functioning correctly. It can also change scripts, batch files, and other kinds of executable files on your computer.

This article is for a beginning to intermediate computer user.

Note System Restore does not affect personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos. You can only restore files that you have deleted if you have made backups of those files.
More information
Note To perform the System Restore, you must be logged on to Windows as an administrator. If your computer is part of a network, you might have to ask the system administrator for help. To verify that you are logged on to Windows as an administrator, follow these steps:

Click here to view or hide step-by-step instructions with pictures
  1. Open the Date and Time dialog box.
    1. Click Start, and then click Run.
    2. Type the following command in the Run dialog box, and then press OK:
      timedate.cpl
  2. Use one of the appropriate steps, depending on the result.
    • If the Date and Time Properties dialog box appears, you are already logged on as an administrator. Click Cancel to close the Date and TimeProperties dialog box.
    • The following message appears if you are not logged on as an administrator.

How to use System Restore to restore Windows XP to a previous state

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To use System Restore to restore Windows XP to a previous state, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to Windows as an administrator.
  2. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore.
  3. On the Welcome to System Restore page, click to select the Restore my computer to an earlier time option, and then click Next.
  4. On the Select a Restore Point page, click the most recent system restore point in the On this list, click a restore point list, and then click Next.
    Note A System Restore message may appear that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK.
  5. On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next. System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration, and then restarts the computer.
  6. Log on to the computer as an Administrator. Then click OK on the System Restore Restoration Complete page. 
If you successfully restored your computer to a previous state, and the computer performs as expected, you are finished.


If the restore process completed successfully but the computer does not perform as you expected, go to the "How to undo a system restoration after you perform a System Restore" section. If you received an error message and the restore process did not complete, or if you cannot run System Restore, go to the "Next Steps" section.

How to undo a system restoration after you perform a System Restore

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You may have unintentionally restored Windows XP to a previous configuration that you do not want. To undo the restoration, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to Windows as an administrator.
  2. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore.
  3. On the Welcome to System Restore page, click to select the Undo my last restoration option, and then click Next.
    Note A System Restore message may appear that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make. Click OK.
  4. On the Confirm Restoration Undo page, click Next. System Restore restores the original Windows XP configuration, and then restarts the computer.
  5. Log on to the computer as Administrator. The System Restore Undo Complete page appears.
  6. Click OK. You can now run System Restore again from a different restore point.
NEXT STEPS
If these methods did not work for you, you can use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions to your problem. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web sites provide include the following:
  • Searchable Knowledge Base: Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Solution Centers: View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Other Support Options: Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have problems, you might want to contact Support:
References
For additional information about steps to take if the System Restore tool in Windows XP does not start, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
304449 How to start the System Restore tool from a command prompt in Windows XP
For additional information about System Restore,
  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Help and Support.
  3. Type system restore in the Search box, and then press ENTER.
Properties

Article ID: 2534454 - Last Review: 11/21/2012 08:18:00 - Revision: 3.0

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • kbenv kbhowtomaster kbcip KB2534454
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