Chapter 14. Windows Media Player

‚   ‚   ‚  

13.1 Creating a Restore Point

System Restore automatically creates restore points for you (see the box on UP TO SPEED Some Good Things to Know About System Restore for more on when System Restore kicks in), but sometimes you want to decide when to take these snapshots. For example, to protect yourself when installing a new program, you may want to create a restore point before slapping a fresh application on our hard drive.

To manually create a restore point, choose Control Panel Performance and Maintenance System Restore. Then, choose Create a Restore Point (Figure 13-1), and in the next screen, name the restore point (for example, "Before installing camera"). Windows XP automatically records and displays the restore point's time and date so you don't need to include that information in your title. Finally, click Create and your system goes to work; after several seconds, a message appears telling you that XP has created the restore point. Click Close to exit the utility.

Figure 13-1. Consider manually creating a restore point before installing new software or making any other system changes. The System Restore Settings link lets you customize how much space your hard drive uses to save restore points, as explained in Section 13.1.2.

13.1.1 Restoring Your System

Before using a restore point to return your computer to a stable state, make sure you've saved any work and closed any programs you're running. Then choose Control Panel Performance and Maintenance System Restore. The Restore Wizard screen appears (shown in Figure 13-2). Choose "Restore my computer to an earlier time," and from the calendar that appears, choose a date and a specific restore point, as shown in Figure 13-2, then click Next. A warning screen appears, reminding you to save your work; click Next again. After a short while, your PC shuts down and restarts in its old state.

13.1.2 Limiting the Size of System Restore's Files

System restore has one downside: It eats up a significant amount of disk space. Why? Because it devotes disk space to each restore point you create, which can quickly add up to several gigabytes of data. If you're trying to save hard disk space, you can shrink the amount System Restore uses.

Note: Of course, there's a trade-off: The less disk space you devote to System Restore, the fewer restore points you can create.

To change how much space System Restore uses, right-click My Computer and choose Properties System Restore. As shown in Figure 13-2, you can change the allocated space by dragging the slider to the left (to reduce the size), or to the right (to increase it).

Figure 13-2. Windows XP normally allocates 12 percent of your hard drive for System Restore. You can change this setting, or turn it off altogether, by selecting "Turn Off System Restore." If you turn it off, though, you'll be computing without a safety net.

13.1.3 Deleting Old Restore Points

System Restore automatically deletes its old files after 90 days or your size limit (described in the previous hint) ‚ whichever comes first. If you're really desperate to free up disk space, you can manually delete your existing restore points. You may also want to delete old restore points if your computer falls prey to a virus. The reason? If you restore your computer to a time when it was infected, your PC might return to the sick ward.

Note: Deleting restore points is pretty much an all-or-nothing affair because XP only lets you erase all but the most recent one.

To clear out the old restore points, choose Start All Programs Accessories System Tools Disk Cleanup. After launching, the Disk Cleanup utility may take several minutes to check your system, as it calculates how much space you can save using various cleanup options. When the utility finishes checking your system, click the More Options tab, then click the "Clean up" button in the System Restore section. The Disk Cleanup utility deletes all your old restore points except the most recent one.

Disk Cleanups

Windows XP's built-in Disk Cleanup program works just fine ‚ but why settle for just fine? You can download other tools that do an even better job of cleaning up your system, such as finding and deleting duplicate files or deleting orphaned shortcuts (links to programs that no longer exist). Clean-up tools designed for Windows XP abound, but here're two of the best:

  • CleanUp! This software expands on Windows XP's Disk Cleanup tool with a few extra features that do the electronic equivalent of scrubbing your bathroom walls and cleaning behind your furniture. CleanUp! goes the extra mile by finding and deleting shortcuts to programs you've long since trashed and browser Favorites that link to dead Web sites. It also shows you a list of Registry entries that point to files that aren't on your hard disk and lets you examine Internet Explorer AutoComplete entries, so you can delete entries for sites you don't plan to revisit . ($18 shareware;

  • System Mechanic . This program is far more than a disk cleanup tool. In addition to normal cleanup tasks , it finds and deletes obsolete and "junk" files left behind by uninstalled programs, finds and deletes duplicate files, and fixes broken shortcuts. It also cleans out the Registry, lets you fine-tune various Windows settings, such as how to display your desktop, and has privacy tools that protect you against spyware. In all, System Mechanic offers a suite of 15 utilities. ($59.95 shareware;

13.1.4 Changing System Restore's Backup Schedule

System Restore automatically creates a restore point every 24 hours (see the box on UP TO SPEED Some Good Things to Know About System Restore for more details on this schedule). However, should you want to set a different schedule ‚ say, once every two days, or twice a day ‚ you can make it happen by editing the Registry. You can also change how often System Restore automatically deletes old restore points.

To trigger these changes, run the Registry Editor (Section 15.1.2) and go to My Computer HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows NT CurrentVersion SystemRestore. Then, follow any or all of these instructions, depending on which changes you want to make:

  • To change how frequently System Restore creates restore points, edit the RPGlobalInterval value . When you edit the value, click Decimal; the Registry displays how often the utility creates a restore point, in seconds. The default number is 86400, or the number of seconds in 24 hours. For less frequent restore points, increase the number, say, to 172800 if you want a restore point created every two days. For more frequent restore points, decrease the number, say, to 43200 if you want your system to create a restore point twice a day.

  • To change how often System Restore deletes restore points, edit the RPLifeInterval value . When you edit the value, click Decimal; the Registry displays how many seconds elapse before each Restore Points is deleted. The default is 7776000, or the number of seconds in 90 days. To delete restore points more frequently, decrease the number, say, to 3888000 to delete old restore points after 45 days. But if the amount of disk space you've devoted to System Restore points fills up sooner, Windows XP deletes old versions at more frequent intervals, no matter which interval you choose (Figure 13-2 tells you how to allot more space to System Restore).

  • To save restore points each time you start your computer, edit the RPSessionInterval value . When you edit the value, click Decimal. By default, the setting is 0, which means it's turned off. Type a value, in seconds, indicating how often you want System Restore to save restore points each session. For example, 3600 would save a restore point every hour ; 144000 creates one every four hours. Be careful with this setting, though: If you create restore points too frequently, they'll take up a substantial amount of hard disk space, which means Windows XP will delete them at relatively short intervals.

Some Good Things to Know About System Restore

Here are some things to keep in mind about System Restore.

If you upgrade from Windows XP Home Edition to Windows XP Professional ‚ or from Windows Me to either version of Windows XP ‚ you lose your existing restore points.

You can't create restore points when you're in Safe Mode, but you can revert to previous restore points from Safe Mode. (For more on Safe Mode, see Section 13.1.6.) If you do end up working in Safe Mode, when you're finished you might want to consider creating a restore point once you're back in Windows XP. If you create a new user account and then use System Restore to roll back to a point before you created that account, that new user won't be able to log on (since you'll have eliminated the new account). However, the data files created by the new user won't be deleted, so you can still access them.

When you tell System Restore to stop monitoring a drive, it deletes all existing restore points for that drive. Even if you turn System Restore back on, the utility can't recreate those restore points--they're gone for good.

13.1.5 Getting System Restore to Ignore Certain Folders

System Restore can be a lifesaver, but it can also cause unforeseen problems by deleting files in the Windows folder or in the Program Files folder. Most of the time, this condition isn't a problem because your data files live in your Documents folder, and the whole point of restore is to jump back in time in your system foldres. But if you've set anything to save in those folders, you may find that after you restore your system, a group of files is gone.

Thankfully, you can instruct System Restore to ignore any folder you declare out of bounds. To make the change, run the Registry Editor (Section 15.1.2) and go to My Computer HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE System CurrentControlSet Control BackupRestore FilesNotToBackup. Create a new Multi-String Value, and give it a name that describes the folder you want to protect, such as Downloads. Double-click the value to edit it. Type the full path of the folder you want to protect and click OK, then exit the Registry. From now on, when you create a restore point, the utility completely ignores files in that folder.

13.1.6 Safe Mode

System Restore can get you working again, but what if you first want to diagnose a problem? Safe Mode is a good place to turn because it runs your computer in a stripped-down state that makes it easier to identify problems. In Safe Mode, none of your normal startup programs run (Section 1.1.7), most of the hardware attached to your PC is ignored (for example, devices connected to a USB or Firewire port), and Windows XP uses only the simplest video driver possible, because video problems frequently cause XP's woes.

If your system frequently crashes, or won't boot up at all, try starting in Safe Mode. Here's how:

  1. Start your computer and it comes on, hold down the F8 key .

    Don't wait too long before you press the F8 key; if you do, Windows XP will bypass Safe Mode and try to start normally.

    Figure 13-3. Safe Mode actually looks a little ominous.

    Note: If your computer is already running, reboot it by choosing Start Turn Off Computer Restart.

    A menu with several options appears, including "Safe Mode" and "Safe Mode with Networking." Choose Safe Mode and press Enter .

    If you're certain your PC isn't having networking problems, then choose "Safe Mode with Networking" and press Enter. If you select this option, you can use the Internet or even a local network while you're in Safe Mode.

  2. Log into Windows XP .

    Once you're logged in, XP looks a lot like what you can see in Figure 13-3.

  3. Troubleshoot your problem .

    Choose Start Help and Support. In the search box, type troubleshooter and press Enter. In the left-hand pane, click Full Text Search Matches, and then click the link that says "List of Troubleshooters ." Choose the troubleshooter that most closely matches your problem and follow its links and advice. To exit Safe Mode, restart your computer.

Troubleshooting Programs

Windows XP offers plenty of built-in troubleshooting tools, but sometimes it's worth supplementing your XP arsenal with a few additions. Here're a few of the best:

WinRescue XP . This helpful tool offers a variety of troubleshooting and system restore modules. It has a utility that works like System Restore, offers Registry cleanup tools, includes over a dozen hardware troubleshooters, and has a backup program as well. It's shareware and free to try, but you're expected to pay $24.95 if you continue to use it. Get it from

RestoreIT . This program works much like System Restore, but features superior customization features that let you set and use restore points. It also lets you retrieve deleted files and can kill viruses. It's shareware and free to try, but costs $39.95 to use permanently. You can download it from

BugToaster . This free program captures the details of your system crashes and uploads the information to a Web site. Once there, the information is correlated with data from other system crashes and then analyzed . Software companies and IT departments monitor the site for bug information, then report back to the site about fixes. It's a bit of a convoluted process, but it may help you solve some system crashes. And best of all, it's free. Get it from

Windows XP Power Hound
Windows XP Power Hound: Teach Yourself New Tricks
ISBN: 0596006195
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 119 © 2008-2017.
If you may any questions please contact us: