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Windows 7: System Restore vs System Image Restore

27 Oct 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
System Restore vs System Image Restore


Is a system restore to an earlier point as clean as a restore done for the same point through a system image (I use Macrium Reflect) - or is there redundancy, overlaps, duplication etc. introduced during a system restore?

I am aware that a system image is of ALL the C drive - whereas a system restore is only for certain file extensions and locations (Actually, all my user folders, Downloads, My Documents, Pictures etc. are on a separate partition - except for App Data).

More specifically for the registry: does a system restore replace the registry to exactly as it was at the restore point - or are there overlaps, redundant entries and duplication. I suppose I am asking because I believe in Windows XP a system restore simply overlay the newer registry with the older restore one - so expanding and complicating the registry; at least this is what the developer of ERUNT said.

I would appreciate some feedback on this. Thank you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2011   #2

Windows 7 32 bit

Here's a good article with a lot of info about Windows Seven Restore enhancements over previous versions. I didn't realize myself it had these options:

Exploring Windows 7 System Restore & Restore Previous Versions
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium x64


Reading generally, and from what Brinks said about system restore: Each restore point is a full and separate restore point., would I be right to conclude that a system restore is as clean a restore to a previous time (for system settings and critical files) as a restore from a system image (although this is fuller).

So given a situation where all I want to restore is an exact image of critical system settings and programs at a given time I am making the right choice in doing a system restore - which is very fast.

Also doing multiple system restores to different periods will not complicate or confuse the system over time?

Again, it would be good to have answers to the above - so that I can be content relying fully on system restores, and only use my Macrium Reflect images when absolutely needed (virus, or, as MilesAhead pointed out, a disk defrag gone wrong - when system restore may not work).
My System SpecsSystem Spec

27 Oct 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by discs View Post

Again, it would be good to have answers to the above - so that I can be content relying fully on system restores, and only use my Macrium Reflect images when absolutely needed (virus, or, as MilesAhead pointed out, a disk defrag gone wrong - when system restore may not work).
I don't know the answers to your very specific questions about System Restore.

However---I don't think you can ever be "content relying fully on system restores"--simply because it occasionally fails to restore. In which case you go to Plan B.

Of course, Plan B may be an image restore. And you can't be content relying on that either.

Having said all that, I think you should take System Restore for what it appears to be---a fairly reliable and quick way to resolve many issues. In my experience it "works" maybe 95% of the time.

I have used System Restore probably 50 or 75 times since it became available on MS operating systems. It's "failed" 2 or 3 times. On the other hand, I can't recall the last time I had to resort to an image restore--it's been at least 5 or 6 years.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2011   #5

Win 7, 32bit, Premium

In the link posted by MilesAhead, there is an option for "Restoring Windows to Original Settings" What is the difference (if any) or reinstalling Windows with the disc ? Does the "settings restore" include the registry ?

Thanks !
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2011   #6

Windows 7 32 bit

I would hesitate to do much jumping around with restore points. They can be a quick fix. But I can see the eggs getting scrambled with lots of use in a short span of time. If you have multiple system images to back you up then maybe you can gamble. But I think image restore from an external drive using a boot CD is the most reliable.. provided it's been tested with the particular hardware set up.

Looks like putting everything under the restore point Gui is going to cause a lot of confusion.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Nov 2011   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Thanks MilesAhead. It's taken me a while to get back since I wanted to work out a solution that worked for me.

Essentially, I have decided:
1. To rely on system images for a major restore, probably infrequent, and probably to a much earlier point than the present (unless there is a real messup!)
2. To rely on system restore for a restore to a recent point (say within the last month or so) and
3. To use Returnil's RVS (Returnil Virtual System) Pro in 'Always On' mode - so that any experiments with new software are done in a virtual environment, and overwritten at shutdown. (I will probably use 'Real Mode' once or twice a week for Microsoft/software updates and to make any permanent changes). [RVS does, within virtual mode, allow files to be permanently defined and excluded from Virtual mode and so permanently saved - and it (RVS virtual mode) also allows one, at any time, to browse and manipulate the registry and files in the virtual and real system and to copy them back and forth from one to the other. So my day-to-day work should not be affected while I use virtual mode 99% of the time].

I have now implemented the above.

I trust that the above approach should keep my system clean and in good order :).
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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