How to Use System Restore on Multiple Drives in Windows Vista - dummies

How to Use System Restore on Multiple Drives in Windows Vista

By Woody Leonhard

When you perform a file backup, Vista backs up your data files before it creates a restore point — and the restore point contains backups of your shadow copies. But if you have more than one drive, the restore point doesn’t include backups of all your shadow copies. The only way to back up these shadow copies of your data files in Windows Vista is to manually change Vista’s System Protection settings to include your other drives.

This section applies only to users of Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. If you have any other version of Vista, this won’t apply to your system.

Vista’s System Restore program (Microsoft insists on calling it System Protection) backs up system files. It doesn’t back up data files. Fair enough. However, Vista keeps shadow copies of data files (also called Previous Versions).

When you run a restore point, Vista normally makes backup copies only of system files on your main hard drive. (For the nitpickers: If you have multiple partitions on a hard drive, Vista backs up the volume that contains Windows.) So unless you go in and change things, Vista’s restore points don’t include shadow copies of files on drives (er, volumes) other than your main drive.

If you want system restore points to include shadow copies of data files from drives other than your main drive, you have to go into Vista and turn on System Protection for the other drives.

  1. Choose Start, right-click Computer, and choose Properties.


    You see the View Basic Information about Your Computer window.

  2. In the Tasks pane, click System Protection.


    Vista hits you with another User Account Control message. Click Continue. You see the System Properties dialog box, which is open to the System Protection tab.

  3. Select the boxes next to every drive for which you want to have system restore points generated.

    Realize that creating system restore points for additional drives takes more time and space and will therefore slow down installation of new programs and give you halitosis. But it keeps your shadow copies clean.

  4. Click OK and click X to exit the View Basic Information window.

    Vista does not run out and create a new restore point. But the next time a restore point is generated, it will include shadow copies for all the data files on the newly selected drives.