Windows OS comes with inbuilt tools for system restoration. Another popular tool is Reboot to Restore technology that facilitates quick and easy restoration of systems in multi-user environments. We break down Windows system restore tools and Reboot to Restore software to understand their differences and how they work.
Computers are vulnerable to a diverse range of malfunctions that eventually deteriorate system performance or may even cause a breakdown. These issues are sometimes caused by malware or accidentally due to users’ mistake. Irrespective of the cause, active redressal of such problems is necessary for optimal system performance.
In this regard, Windows has been at the forefront of innovation. It offers a range of inbuilt tools that effectively resolve various system issues. In spite of that, software based on the Reboot to Restore technology has been steadily gaining popularity especially with IT administrators. The technology is preferred mainly in the field of maintaining the configurational health of computers in a multi-user environment such as educational institutes and public libraries. It is interesting to note how Reboot to Restore stacks up against the default Windows restoration programs.
Various System Restoration Options in Windows OS
Windows operating system comes with a range of system restoration applications embedded within it. Let us analyze the functionality of some of the crucial inbuilt tools available across various versions of the Windows OS:
Restore Windows 7
Windows 7 offers a range of inbuilt programs for tackling system related issues such as driver malfunctions, system slowdown, and so on. Of these programs, System Restore and Startup Repair are particularly useful for resolving configuration-related issues and repairing files.
Windows System Restore is a pre-installed software used for restoring the operating system files and settings to its previous state. It does so by creating Restore Points at regular intervals. Restore Points are snapshots of the operating system files and settings saved by Windows for later reference. Depending upon how long the system restore feature has been in enabled, there can be one to several Restore Points which can also be created manually if Windows has not yet created one.
When a user executes Windows System Restore, the program reverts the configuration to the selected Restore Point. As a result, all the OS-related changes that had taken place after the creation of the Restore Point are discarded. For instance, drivers and/or applications installed after Restore Point creation are removed while those that were uninstalled after the Restore Point are reinstalled. In other words, the device configuration is rolled back to the state when that Restore Point was created.
Notably, Windows System Restore does not impact users’ personal files. So, all documents, videos, images, and other files that existed at the time of executing System Restore continue to exist even after restoration.
Startup Repair is also an inbuilt tool of Windows 7 used for scanning the computer to identify damaged or missing system files which are often the reason behind Windows booting issues. The program can not only locate damaged and missing files but also repair the same on users’ command. Windows Startup Repair is especially helpful when user-inflicted changes on OS files or those made at the time of installing applications prevent Windows from starting up normally. Most of the times, these issues get resolved by executing Startup Repair.
Restore Windows 8
Windows 8 was released with considerable changes to the Windows suite of recovery programs. In addition to System Restore, Windows 8 offers Refresh and Reset options as well.
The Refresh option in Windows 8 reinstalls the operating system afresh. However, before reinstalling Windows, the program secures all personal files, user-defined settings, preinstalled applications, and the applications installed by users. Hence, these are retained even after executing Refresh.
The Reset option reverts the device to the state it was when shipped. The program deletes all user-generated settings and files, and installed applications. Only the default applications are retained. Therefore, users have to reinstall the OS updates and other software after Reset completes.
The System Restore option in Windows 8 works the same way as Windows 7. It reverts the configuration to the selected Restore Point undoing all the changes made after the Restore Point was created.
Restore Windows 10
Contrary to the expectation of offering a range of restoration and recovery options, Windows 10 just provides System Restore and Reset. Reset itself offers three options applicable for different scenarios.
Like its predecessors, Windows 10 also has the same System Restore functionality. The program can rollback the system to an older state captured as a restore point without affecting personal files.
The Reset option in Windows 10 reinstalls the operating system but in 3 different ways. It allows the users to keep their files, remove everything, or revert to factory settings entirely.
Keep my files: When users opt for this choice, the Reset program reinstalls Windows 10, removes all the additional drivers and applications downloaded, and changes made to settings by users. However, this option does not delete personal files of users. Hence, it should be tried when System Restore fails to resolve an issue.
Remove everything: As the term indicates, this option removes even the personal files along with drivers, applications, and settings before reinstalling the operating system. So, this option is suitable only if users want to permanently erase all data and make it irrecoverable for others.
Restore factory settings: This Reset option is different from the other two and should be executed carefully. It reinstalls the Windows version that the device was originally shipped with. So, if a user had upgraded from Windows 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10, this option will reinstall the previous version of Windows along with the manufacturer’s applications that came in with the PC. (Note: This option might not be available on all PCs)
Limitations of Windows System Restore Functionalities
The restoration and recovery programs of Windows are extensively used for troubleshooting issues and maintaining device health. That being said, the limitations of these inbuilt tools cannot be denied either. Some of the major disadvantages are listed below:
Demands Technical Expertise: All the restoration options in Windows, irrespective of the OS version, require the users to have a fair technical understanding to execute. Besides, the process of executing any of these programs is a bit technical and involves multiple steps, all of which makes resolving system issues difficult for the users.
Needs Manual Intervention: Windows does not facilitate scheduled or remote restoration. All the programs mentioned above can only be executed manually. This makes them unsuitable for large enterprise networks comprising hundreds of devices where it is extremely challenging for IT team members to physically visit the affected devices and resolve specific issues manually.
Time Consuming: Windows restoration programs take anything from several minutes to more than a couple of hours to complete. Such massive downtime can drastically affect organizational productivity. It is not the desired scenario, especially in case of mission-critical workstations that are needed to be up and functioning constantly without failure.
Requires Additional Resources: Windows Reset often requires a recovery drive to execute if it finds certain system files missing. In the absence of a recovery media, users need to download the installation media first to Reset the computer. On the other hand, the Restore Points created by Windows System Restore at regular intervals also consumes considerable storage space. Older restore points are also deleted in order to store new ones and can end up replacing the appropriate restore point you are looking for.
The Reboot to Restore Technology
The Reboot to Restore technology focuses on preserving the clean state of computing devices. Once deployed and enabled, the technology prevents any change or input to the system from taking permanent effect. As long as a computer remains switched on, the Reboot to Restore technology allows users to work normally on the device without any restrictions. But the files, software, add-ons, and other items installed or downloaded during a session are stored temporarily. As soon as the device is rebooted, the session data is completely discarded. As a result, the system boots up with the same configuration it had when the Reboot to Restore software was activated.
The Reboot to Restore technology affects the entire system. As a result, cookies, extensions, malware, and other items that download automatically in the background while using the Internet are wiped out every time a device restarts. Same happens with user files and settings. This ensures that systems are adequately protected from unwanted or unauthorized changes.
That being said, Reboot to restore software such as Deep Freeze have the provision of retaining user files across reboots. It allocates virtual storage space or exempts a hard disk partition from the Reboot to Restore technology to save users’ files without affecting the system configuration. Central management, scheduling Windows OS update, mouse, and keyboard control, and power management are the other unique features of this Windows SteadyState alternative software.
Benefits of the Reboot to Restore Technology
The simple and robust functionality of the Reboot to Restore technology offers a range of benefits in contrast to the Windows restoration programs:
Simple to execute: The Reboot to Restore technology makes system restoration a very simple task to execute. Once installed, the technology restores the desired system state on reboot irrespective of who restarts the device or how many times it is restarted. Hence, whenever an issue is noticed, a simple restart is enough to rollback the configuration to its clean state.
Does not require expert intervention: The Reboot to Restore technology supports advanced features such as scheduling restart or shutdown, automating OS and software updates, and remotely managing the device. It significantly reduces the burden on the IT professionals as they do not have to manually cater to each malfunctioning device.
Restores instantly: The Reboot to Restore technology reloads the admin-defined clean configuration with a restart. It does not require any additional time for the restoration, nor does it have a lengthy process of executing it. As a result, the technology not only eliminates downtime but also ensures that the devices are always functioning at the optimum level.
Resource-efficient: The Reboot to Restore technology does not require any additional drive, media, or device to function. When installed, it uses a fraction of the internal storage to lock-in the desired state for restoration.
Cost-effectiveness: The Reboot to Restore technology delivers tangible ROI by maximizing system uptime, increasing IT staff’s efficiency, and keeping the device configuration immune from unauthorized changes.
In conclusion, it can be safely stated that the Reboot to Restore technology offers clear advantages compared to the inbuilt Windows restoration programs. Deploying the technology helps in maintaining the system integrity and delivering improved computing experience to all users alike.