We have several ways to recover our system. The first one we will talk
about is Automated System Recovery or ASR. ASR allows us recover our
system using the ASR diskette and a copy of our backup media. These two
combined will allow us to restore our entire system.
ASR floppy contains only the necessary files in order to start our
machine and contains key configuration information about our system. The
rest of the information needed to restore our system will be contained on
the backup media. We use Windows Backup utility to create ASR backup
(including ASR diskette). We can do that by clicking the Automated System
Recovery Wizard button on the Welcome tab (start the utility in advanced
Welcome Tab ASR Wizard
ASR backup only backs up the system state data and does not back up user
data. During the backup, we actually create a floppy disk that is used
along with the backup files during the restore procedure.
The ASR diskette contains the Asr.sif and Asrpnp.sif files. Copies of
these files are placed on the backup media so we can copy them manually
to a diskette if necessary. The files must exist on the root of the
floppy diskette. The system must have a floppy drive in order to perform
the ASR recovery.
To restore a system, press the F2 key when prompted and insert the ASR
floppy disk. ASR will restore disk configurations (including disk
signatures of basic and dynamic volumes), install the operating system,
and restore the backed up system settings. Remember, ASR does not restore
user data. Also, the ASR diskette must match the backup set created by
the ASR feature. We cannot use an ASR diskette that was created at a
different time than the backup set.
Other System Recovery Options
What can we do if our system crashes and we can't log on to Windows
anymore. This can happen, for example, when we install some drivers and
after that our system crashed. In this case the first thing that we
should try and do is Driver Rollback feature in Windows XP.
When we install a driver we immediately create a rollback point. If the
driver corrupts the system we can remove that driver and restore it back
to the previous configuration. This is done in Device Manager by going to
the particular device properties, and then Driver tab.
Floppy Driver Properties
If this does not work or we can't get to Device Manager, another option
is to use Last Known Good Configuration feature.
Last Known Good Configuration
During every boot process a clone of the system is created. Once the
system is logged on, the last known good configuration gets re-created.
If we make a configuration change, such as install a driver that now
corrupts the entire system, and we haven't logged in again, we may try to
reverse bad driver installation effects by using last known good
Sometimes this will not work because we just can't get that far in to the
system. So, another option to do a system restore is by going into Safe
We can get into Safe Mode by pressing the F8 button during the boot
process. Sometimes the system will give us the Safe Mode option
automatically if we failed to log in or the system has crashed. In Safe
Mode we can get into a basic configuration of the system. Once we are
there we can go to Device Manager and try to rollback the device driver
that is causing problems. We can also disable particular device so that
it doesn't come up, or uninstall a device so that we remove corrupted
device drivers. Also, if we have newer drivers we can try and reinstall
particular device. If Safe Mode doesn't work for us we can go to the
In order to use Recovery Console we first have to install it or run it
from the Windows installation CD. We can run Recovery Console by booting
from the installation CD-ROM and choosing the Repair option. To install
the Recovery Console we can use the 'win32.exe /cmdcons' command from the
installation CD-ROM. The Recovery Console is then available during boot,
without the CD. It will be available as an option when we press F8 during
Recovery Console is a command line interface. Many key tasks can be
accomplished using various commands available. We can fix boot sector
(fixboot) or fix master boot record errors (fixmbr). We can also remove
or update key system files. We also have disk partitioning utility so we
can work with our hard drives as well. We have limited access to user
files, we can only work with system files. From the Recovery Console we
can also do a System Restore.
Using a System Restore is similar to using the Undo feature in a word
processing program. With system restore, the system takes periodic
snapshots, called restore points, of the system configuration. We can
also manually make restore points prior to modifying the system
We can do a System Restore form Recovery Console, or from Windows if we
are able to log on to the system. When we want to restore our system to a
previous state from Windows, we can run the System Restore program and
select the desired restore point.
Windows Backup (ntbackup)
We can use the Windows Backup utility to restore the system state data
manually, or to restore user data from a backup. Ntbackup does not create
partitions. We must create the partition and format it before restoring