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Accessing "system restore" restore points saved on a full-drive backup image

    Question

  • I'm trying to figure out a way to get a Windows 7 "system restore" point from a complete hard drive disk image back to my "c-drive" so that I can use it to roll back my computer to a previous time.  The reason I need to do this is restoring MS Outlook, which has developed inastability/crashing problems, to a time predating the onset, which I was able to track down in the Windows Reliability History feature.  "Normal" methods to fix Outlook have not worked (uninstall/reinstall, sfc /scannow, virus checking, inbox repair tool, delete/create new profile, deleting add-ons...).

    The only way that I can figure out how I might be able to get back to a time predating when the problem began to appear in the error logs is rolling back my system to an earlier date with System Restore.  I do not want to restore my entire backup image because I'd lose all other information on my drive since the backup was made several weeks ago.

    To get access to the restore points on the backup image, I've tried copying the "system volume information" folder from the image onto the "c-drive."  Copying the folder was successfully accomplished from a DOS prompt in Windows Repair, but when Windows rebooted, it overwrote all of the files I copied with new ones generated
    during the boot. I also tried restoring the "system volume information" folder onto my desktop, but there is no apparent way to direct "System Restore" to see any restore points that aren't automatically provided in the list that Windows generates (even if you select "see other recovery points").

    After several hours of effort, I've not been able to identify a solution.  If anyone has successfully accomplished what I'm trying to do, please tell me how.





    Friday, February 01, 2013 3:59 PM

Answers

All replies

  • Why don't you just get it back from the full backup?

    To get it back from System Restore you can do this:

    1. Close Outlook.
    2. Copy the current .pst file to "Outlook.bad" (for example).
    3. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the folder where the .pst file resides.
    4. Right-click the .pst file.
    5. Left-click "Restore previous version".

    Friday, February 01, 2013 4:08 PM
  • To go back to the .pst from 8 weeks ago (which is when the problem was first reported in Event Log), causes me to lose a lot of data in the .pst.  Diagnostics are reporting that the issue with Outlook is a kernel error, but trying to track that down didn't yield anything that fixed the issue either.  I've given up on fixing Outlook itself, instead trying to just run system restore if I can access the prior restore point.  The interesting thing is that backing up the system volume information folder seems to be useless if you can't get Windows to see anything that's in the backup folder.  Makes no sense why System Restore doesn't let you search for restore points in other folders.
    Friday, February 01, 2013 4:45 PM
  • Makes no sense why System Restore doesn't let you search for restore points in other folders.

    System Restore was never intended to be a backup tool for user files. If you read its description in the Windows Help feature then you will see that user files are explicitly excluded from being restored during a restoration. To back up user files you need to use a suitable backup program.

    However, as I mentioned in my first reply, it is an unpublished feature of System Restore that it backs up user files. It's just not guaranteed. Did you try my method?

    Friday, February 01, 2013 5:02 PM
  • I'm not trying to recover any user files (including the .pst).  That's easily accomplished.  I'm trying to restore Windows 7 registries, etc. to the date of the image, which is what the "system restore" feature accomplishes.  I didn't try your suggestion because the .pst file is a user file, and there isn't anything in any of the diagnostics that I've run indicating that there are problems with the .pst (and the Microsoft Inbox Repair Tool, which verifies integrity of .pst files, indicated the file is OK).

    Friday, February 01, 2013 5:31 PM
  • I'm trying to restore Windows 7 registries, etc. to the date of the image,

    If you want to restore the registry then System Restore is your tool.

    You need to be a little clearer about what you mean with "image". Are you thinking of a full backup (made with Windows backup), a full image (made with the Windows image creation tool) or a System Restore Point.

    Friday, February 01, 2013 5:43 PM
  • Hi,

    As Oberwald says, System Restore is not designed for restoring a single file or just registry settings. It is used for restoring System Files and Settings.

    The method you want to try is not officially supported. I also suggest you try a full image restore. Another suggest should be to ask at Office Forum for this Outlook related issue.

    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-us/officeitpro/threads

    If you have any feedback on our support, please clickhere


    Juke Chou
    TechNet Community Support

    Monday, February 04, 2013 7:03 AM
  • My reference to "image" is a full copy of the drive, made with Norton Ghost.  It duplicates the disk image and allows a bare metal disk restoration of a drive (therefore, it has a copy of the "system volume information" folder and all other files that existed on the drive at the time the image was made (including the registry). 

    Re my problem being MS Office/Outlook, that's not the support I am looking for.  I am not attempting to troubleshoot Outlook, I am attempting to determine if it's possible to perform a "system restore" to a previous restore point that will undo any changes that were made to program and system files after the time/date of the restore point.  Outlook is simply the program that I'm trying to affect using "system restore."

    Specifically, I want to know if there is a way to either point "system restore" to a restore point that doesn't appear in the Windows-provided list (because it's being provided by files off a backup of the hard drive), or to copy those backup files to a particular location on the drive and make a registry modification that would allow "system restore" to see and use them.

    Monday, February 04, 2013 3:58 PM
  • I am attempting to determine if it's possible to perform a "system restore" to a previous restore point that will undo any changes that were made to program and system files after the time/date of the restore point.
    -> Yes, this is exactly the way System Restore works.

    I want to know if there is a way to either point "system restore" to a restore point that doesn't appear in the Windows-provided list.
    -> I have never heard of anyone accessing a System Restore point that is not tied in with the current machine. Maybe a tool similar to SystemRestoreExplorer could do it.

    Monday, February 04, 2013 4:12 PM
  • thanks.  I'll look at SystemRestoreExplorer
    Monday, February 04, 2013 6:48 PM
  • Hi,

    You may try this tool. Anyway, I have not heard such thing or method as well.


    Juke Chou
    TechNet Community Support

    Tuesday, February 05, 2013 6:46 AM
  • SystemRestoreExplorer did not work.  My conclusion was that it is not possible to run a system restore operation unless the desired restore point is included in the list of restore points that "System Restore" provides.  I also tried replacing the hidden SystemVolumeInformation folder with the one from the backup image of my full hard drive (which had to be done via DOS in the Windows Recovery Environment), but that too was not successful.  When I booted Windows after copying that folder, Windows over-wrote the folder with new information, so the prior restore points were not shown in System Restore. I also tried copying individual restore point information into the current SystemVolumeInformation folder, but System Restore didn't see those either.

    Eventually, after several hours of generating and reviewing various dump files, I was able to identify the source of the problem that I was trying to solve.  After removal of the offending software, the issue was fixed without needing System Restore.  It's unfortunate that System Restore points cannot be backed up for later use so that restore points don't consume space on on-board hard drives.

    Sunday, March 03, 2013 7:40 PM
  • Thanks for the detailed feedback. Your findings with respect to using uncatalogued restore points agree with mine. What was the offending software?

    There is actually a method to go back further in time. It's called "imaging". I create a new image once every three months and I always keep three images. This method has saved me on several occasions.

    Sunday, March 03, 2013 7:54 PM