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System Restore What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore What You Need To Know About Windows System Restore Imagine the trouble you could find yourself in, if your system failed! The Windows System Restore feature could save your butt. This article explains how to create and use Windows restore points. Read More or reinstall Windows. For most of us, those are the only two choices we had throughout most of Windows history. Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 How To Reinstall Windows 7 Without Changing Your Personal Settings, Installed Programs & Drivers How To Reinstall Windows 7 Without Changing Your Personal Settings, Installed Programs & Drivers Windows has a tendency to accumulate errors and problems over time. While some of this virtual wear and tear can be delayed by rigorous system maintenance and keeping malware at the gate, the time will... Read More without losing personal data? It wasn’t easy. Neither was resetting to factory settings How To Completely Restore Your Windows Computer To Factory Settings How To Completely Restore Your Windows Computer To Factory Settings Read More .

Starting with Windows 8, we got two more goodies to play around with: Windows Refresh and Windows Reset. It’s great to have all of these options, but it can be confusing to know which one to use in which scenarios.

So, let’s explore a few scenarios to see which path is the right one to take. It’s actually quite straightforward when you know the difference between a Restore, Refresh, Reset, and Reinstall How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More .

Your System Keeps Crashing

The Problem: You’re using your computer like normal, then out of nowhere the system starts acting up. It boots up fine, but randomly crashes for no apparent reason. You haven’t installed any new hardware lately, but you do remember installing new software and/or updating drivers around the same time that the crashes started.

The Solution: This is one situation where System Restore shines. System Restore works by taking snapshots of your system’s state (only important system files are tracked) and allows you to revert your system to a previously saved state.

This is exactly what we want. Our system was working fine, but it isn’t anymore. The most likely culprit is a corrupted system configuration, which should be remedied by reverting to a past configuration that wasn’t problematic.

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However, this only works if you actually make restore points! If you don’t have any, Windows won’t know of any previous states to revert to. If you have too few restore points, you’ll need to roll back to a really old system state, which may cause compatibility issues with other changes made to your system since then.

We recommend creating automatic restore points How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It System restore is not an automatic feature in Windows 7. Usually it is enabled when you've purchased a new system, but after running updates, installing system tools or running any other list of tasks that... Read More once a day and dedicating enough system space to store several of them at any given time. However, depending on how often you make changes to your system, a weekly or monthly schedule might work as well.

In case System Restore isn’t working 3 Things To Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working [Windows] 3 Things To Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working [Windows] Even if you exercise caution to ensure your system runs at its best, problems may still arise without warning. System Restore may work wonders and save your behind in those cases. If however you find... Read More  for you, you can make a couple of tweaks. If everything looks good but it still fails, here’s what you should do when System Restore fails What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails If you’re experiencing a problem with your Windows computer, you can try using System Restore, which rolls back system files, program files, and registry information to a previous state. If these files have been corrupted... Read More . Worst case scenario, you should move on and perform a Windows Refresh.

You Have Persistent Malware

The Problem: You recently ran an anti-malware scan Make Sure You're Clean With These Free One-Time Scan Antivirus Tools [Windows] Make Sure You're Clean With These Free One-Time Scan Antivirus Tools [Windows] It sucks to be constantly bombarded by computer-related threats, whether they’re spyware, malware, viruses, keyloggers, or whatever else. A popular way to combat this problem is to install an antivirus solution that sits in the... Read More and discovered a few threats residing on your system. Being quick and decisive, you took all of the necessary steps to remove malware from your system 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More — you made sure to do everything from removal to disinfection The Complete Malware Removal Guide The Complete Malware Removal Guide This malware removal guide outlines not only how to remove malware from your computer but also how to clean up the mess that viruses and malware leave behind. Read More — but no matter what you do, the malware sticks around.

The Solution: There are a few instances where System Restore might clear out malware, but those situations are few and far between. Persistent malware once would’ve required a complete reinstall, but our lives are made easier now that we have Windows Refresh, which is the proper choice here.

Windows Refresh is similar to reinstalling the entire Windows system, except it won’t delete any of your personal files. This is ideal for a persistent malware infection because it’ll refresh all of the system files without impacting most of your data.

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There is one downside to Windows Refresh, however, and that’s the fact that it will uninstall all of the programs you installed (Modern apps will stay preserved) and install any programs that came with your system that you may have uninstalled at some point.

One small consolation: Windows Refresh will save a list of all uninstalled programs to your desktop so you can go back and install them manually. Once Refreshed, your system should be clear of all malware, but we recommend running another scan afterwards.

Here are a few tips if Windows Refresh isn’t working Windows 8 Refresh Not Working? Try These Tips Windows 8 Refresh Not Working? Try These Tips Windows 8's Refresh is like reinstalling Windows, but it's easier, faster, and preserves your personal files. If Refresh fails or doesn't solve your problems, these troubleshooting tips should help you fix things. Read More for you.

You Want to Sell Your Computer

The Problem: You have a computer that you no longer need and you figure cash will be more useful, so you decide to sell it. However, whether you’ve only used it for five days or five years, there’s some personal information on there that you don’t want the buyer seeing.

The Solution: This kind of scenario is a perfect fit for Windows Reset. Unlike the previously-mentioned Windows Refresh, Windows Reset will reset the entire Windows installation and delete all of your personal files and folders. In other words, it truly is a “reset”.

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Before you plow ahead with it, always remember to back up your data 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More in case you need it later. Store it on a USB drive or external hard drive if you don’t have much. Cloud storage The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The cloud storage scene has heated up recently, with a long-awaited entry by Google and a revamped SkyDrive from Microsoft. Dropbox has gone unchallenged by the major players for a long time, but that’s changed... Read More is another good choice as long as privacy isn’t absolutely critical.

Now, as useful as Windows Reset might be, it isn’t enough if you’re going to sell or give away your computer 4 Things You MUST Do When Selling or Giving Away Your Old Computer, Phone or Tablet 4 Things You MUST Do When Selling or Giving Away Your Old Computer, Phone or Tablet Here’s a fun thing I like to do: buy an old hard drive on eBay, then run recovery software on it. It’s a little data treasure hunt, and you’ll be amazed at what you can... Read More . A tech-savvy user might be able to scrape some data off of a hard drive What Is Data Recovery And How Does It Work? What Is Data Recovery And How Does It Work? If you've ever experienced a major loss of data, you've probably wondered about data recovery -- how does it work? Read More even after Windows has been cleared and reset.

And that’s why you need to nuke your hard drive How to Securely Delete Files From Your HDD or SSD in Windows How to Securely Delete Files From Your HDD or SSD in Windows Did you know files never actually get deleted? That's why they can be recovered; by you or someone else. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, learn how to securely delete files. Read More . When you delete a file, it’s still on the hard drive; Windows just marks it as “deleted”. To truly delete something, you need to write over it enough times so that it becomes unrecoverable. Once nuked, your computer is safe to give away.

Your System Won’t Boot Up

The Problem: If bad luck befalls you, you might wake up one day to find that Windows doesn’t boot up at all. Without access to Windows, you don’t know how to run any of the Restore, Refresh, or Reset procedures. Is your system dead and irreparable?

The Solution: Not quite. Depending on how corrupted your Windows configuration is, it might give you the option of booting into Advanced Startup Options How To Resolve Windows 8 Boot Issues How To Resolve Windows 8 Boot Issues Windows 8 uses a new "hybrid boot" feature to improve boot times. When you shut down, your computer doesn't actually shut down normally - it performs a sort of limited "hibernate" that stores a state... Read More . This menu lets you run Refresh and Reset without actually booting up the operating system.

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If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to grab your Windows installation disc and run it. It should detect that Windows is already installed and offer you the option of Repairing the system. If you don’t have an installation disc, you can make a bootable USB, CD, or DVD How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File How To Make a Bootable USB, CD or DVD to Install Windows Using an ISO File Need installation media to reinstall Windows? In this article we'll show you where to get Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 installation files and how to create a bootable USB, CD, or DVD from scratch. Read More instead.

If you get this far and your system is still broken, you have no other choice than to hit the last resort: a full Windows reinstallation.

Now It’s As Good As New

99% of the time running the Restore, Refresh, or Reset procedures will fix the issue you have without much incident. In the rare case that your system is inoperable, a Reinstallation will always work as a last resort. Either way, you should now be good to go!

Just make sure that you’ve explored as many Windows troubleshooting tips Windows 8 Crashing? How to Easily Troubleshoot Blue Screen & Other Issues Windows 8 Crashing? How to Easily Troubleshoot Blue Screen & Other Issues Windows 8 isn't perfect. That said, most blue screens and application crashes aren't Windows' fault. Our tips will help you identify exactly what's wrong with your PC and fix it. Read More and common Windows fixes 7 More Issues With Windows 8.1 That Can Be Fixed 7 More Issues With Windows 8.1 That Can Be Fixed Want to get rid of the Charms bar, restore libraries or lost your Administrator account? Lots of things can go wrong in Windows 8.1! Here's how to fix the most annoying issues. Read More as you can before going nuclear on your system.

Have you ever had to use a Restore, Refresh, or Reset on Windows? Or do you try to avoid them as much as possible? Know of any tips to make the process even easier? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: Windows System Crash Via Shutterstock, Cyber Infection Via Shutterstock, Laptop and Cash Via Shutterstock

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