The System Restore feature of the Windows operating system can be very handy if configured correctly. It in theory allows the user to restore system settings and files to a previous state. It is not a complete backup solution on the other hand as it is for instance limited by the storage space assigned to it. Plus, there is no straightforward way of restoring individual files easily.
Windows Explorer has a feature to restore individual files, but the process of doing only works if the file that you want to restore still exists on the machine. See Restore Previous Versions Of Windows Files for pointers.
Update: System Restore Explorer development appears to have stopped. The program is available as a beta version only and while that may not be reassuring, it appears to work just fine even on newer versions of Windows such as Windows 10.
The free program System Restore Explorer for Windows offers a better solution. The program displays all existing system restore points in its interface. Data sets list the date and time of creation, a description and the total disk space used by all system restore points.
The description usually highlights why the system restore point was created, for instance, before the installation or removal of software programs.
A right-click on a specific system restore point opens a context menu with options to delete the data or to mount or unmount it. Mounting basically creates a shortcut to that system restore point that you can click on to open all of its folders and files in Windows Explorer. The process won't restore the entire System Restore point but it gives you options to restore individual files or entire folders directly.
You'd then use the unmount context menu option later on to remove the shortcut from the system again.
The core benefit of System Restore Explorer is that it makes it a lot easier to restore individual files from system restore points. The option to delete previous restore points is a nice addition to that; one that you may find useful to free up space on the computer's hard drive.
Windows users can download System Restore Explorer from the developer website over at Nic Bedford's website.
A viable alternative is the previously reviewed Shadow Explorer. System Restore Explorer is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7.Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.