By Steven Menjivar
You've probably seen various versions of system restore software on the market. Some of them are built right into your operating system. If you're on a server, there are some restore options that the server allows you to take advantage of without installing any extra software. There are some differences between these and proper backups that you need to be aware of. You cannot depend on system restore functions to provide you with a full data backup, in any case.
Restoring Your System vs. Restoring Your Files
Your system restore function is basically designed to restore your operating system. This would become an advantage if, for example, you changed your system files in a way that corrupted them and that removed certain functions from the OS. It's also handy in cases where you install a program that does unintended damage to your operating system and when you need to restore it in a speedy fashion.
Your system restore doesn't actually restore your user files, in most cases. If you delete a spreadsheet with all of your yearly sales data on it, for example, your system restore is not going to help you get that file back.
Restoring files is done from a backup. The backup files include those that are created by the user and, in some cases, some of the system files and settings. Backup systems are not designed to restore the OS in the same way that the system restore functionality is designed to do, however.
If you had a complete disaster - meaning that the OS and the files created by users were all lost or destroyed - your IT department would likely engage in a two-part recovery process. The first part would involve reinstalling the operating software and restoring the settings and the second would involve restoring the user files.
Your system restore should not be confused with your backup system. In fact, most system restore software proudly advertises that it won't alter your user file. For data backup, you need to have a copy of the user files on your server or computer made and it needs to be stored in a safe location. This is where online backup services, tape drives and other means of storing large amounts of data and restoring it to a computer come into play. Make sure you back up both your system settings and your data on a regular schedule to avert disasters.
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