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Windows 8 Refresh and Reset Features. Which is like System Restore?

When having issues with your PC, you can attempt to restore, refresh, or reset the machine.  Although all of these terms seem to be similar in meaning and intent - it is important for users to understand the implications of each. Here is a brief explanation of each:
  • RestoreRestoring your PC (Windows System Restore) is a way to undo recent system changes you've made.
  • RefreshRefreshing your PC reinstalls Windows and keeps your personal files, settings, and the apps that came with your PC and apps that you installed from Windows Store.
  • Reset - Resetting your PC reinstalls Windows but deletes your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.
The new Refresh feature in Windows 8 is intended as an improvement to its previous Window System Restore. On the other hand, the Reset feature is intended to reset your Windows 8 system back to a pristine out-of-the-box setup.  Lets look at each feature individually.
Windows System Restore Feature
If you think an app or driver that you recently installed has caused your PC to go haywire, you chould use Windows System Restore.  Although the name implies that your system will restore to an earlier point in time aka restore point. Windows system restore only restores system files, registry and some program 32 files.  It is also important to note that System Restore doesn’t change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed apps and drivers.
Window 8 Refresh Feature

NoteWindows Refresh and Windows Reset features apply only to Windows 8  and Windows RT


Windows System Restore is a term used used by Microsoft which applies to its operating system restore functionality.  

Windows System restore is not available for Windows RT

Both of the new Windows 8 options clean out the operating system itself, but the "Refresh" option is designed to keep your data persistent.  Therefore photos, media, and documents, your new-style Windows 8 apps, and your system settings should not be altered.  You can find this option by selecting the Settings charm (you display the charms with a swipe in from the left on a touch screen, or by moving the mouse pointer to either of the right corners and moving it down or up). Then choose "Change PC Settings" at the bottom.
Refresh can be thought of having a clean copy of Windows 8 while preserving apps, personal data and settings. This entire process takes approx 10 minutes to complete.  It is designed with the belief that bad apps or incorrect settings are often the cause of PC malfunctions and error messages. To address this issue, the Windows 8's refresh feature retains only some settings, including network connections, and personal settings (such as wallpapers etc). File type associations, display settings and firewall settings are restored to factory defaults.  Keep in mind that the refresh feature only re-resets Metro-style apps, which have been approved for the Windows 8 app store. 
Windows 8 Reset Feature
The Windows Reset feature, actually does a fresh install of Windows from scratch, returning your computer or tablet to its OEM condition.  It is like a do-over -- it's essentially the equivelent to FDisk, Re-formatting and re-installing Windows onto your PC.  This whole process take more than 40 minutes on an average-speed PC. So, Reset should be considered the last resort if the "Refresh" option didn't quite do the trick.
You get started by choosing the Settings charm, then "Change PC Settings" at the bottom, then you select General, and scroll down to "Remove everything and reinstall Windows." Click on or touch the "Get started" option. You'll see a band across the screen entitled "Reset your PC."
Is Refresh and Reset the definitive Restore solution by Microsoft?
You've got to applaud Microsoft for making a huge commotion about Windows 8's reset and refresh features. Let's face it, in reality, the primary reason these features exist in the first place is because (believe it or not) Windows-based PCs can go wacky.
In today's digital world, I'm sure we're all too busy to be constantly backing up all our data. We only really appreciate the value of doing this once it's too late. But even if we are regularly doing back-ups, we're still running the risk of losing a lot of our precious data since the data restore is only as good as the last backup. We can return to our last backup point but that may have been a while back and so all our invaluable data and changes made since the last backup may still be unrecoverable.
The built-in backup and restore capabilities of Windows Refresh and Reset aren't going to help you here to recover your music, photos, videos, documents, and your other personal files and folders. It's reset points are infrequently taken or have to be taken manually. And this is again going to require some conscientious effort on the user's part. Worse still, the Windows Refresh and Reset option is really only good for Windows System files and folders and the only "personalized files and apps" that it lists are Windows settings and not your invaluable photos, music, videos, documents, et cetra.
Furthermore, Windows Refresh and Reset backups take up around 25% of your harddrive and the older restore points are automatically deleted. In short, you have no control over how and when these Windows Refresh and Reset restore points are made and how they're managed.
Introducing RollBack Rx
You can blindly rely on Windows Refresh and Reset's limited capabilities or you can enhance Windows interface by using what many millions of users have already discovered to do more comprehensive backups and restores. RollBack Rx makes backing up your data easy by...
  1. Automatically making regular restore points (called "snapshots") that you can return to without requiring any conscientious effort;
  2. If you wish to completely return your PC to an earlier state, by not discriminating between what's backed up and what's not. Everything on your hard drive will be returned bit-for-bit to exactly how your harddrive looked the second the snapshot was made;
  3. By letting you choose the system resources the snapshots will take up and if/when these snapshots can be deleted; and
  4. By letting you determine how and when you would like the snapshot-taking to be automatically triggered so you don't have to worry about how old your restore points are.
  5. Each Rollback Rx snapshot takes up less than 1% of the space on your harddrive

All this means a more carefree and predictable Windows experience for you; one without worries about losing a single byte of your precious data or about having to again do another fresh Windows install.

Rollback Rx is a complete backup and restore
You can now fully safeguard against catastrophic system failures, virus infections, unwanted installations, and malicious hacks. Even if Windows fails to load! Windows Refresh and Reset is not going to help you at all if your install of Windows refuses to start-up. Since RollBack Rx is anchored outside Windows it's not necessary for Windows to be running at all in order for you to get a hold of your snapshots or to restore your system to an earlier point in time.
Suppose you return your system to an earlier point in time but only to realize that there was a file you were working on prior to the restore and now can't seem to find it. Instead of using Windows Refresh and Reset to go forward again to the latest restore point, saving the file to an external drive, and then again using Windows Refresh and Reset to do the reset once more, you can use RollBack Rx to simply explore one snapshot from within another snapshot. So, if you don't want to return your entire system back to an earlier instance, say to yesterday, but would like merely to recover only specific files and folders you can do that using the RollBack Rx "Recover Files" utility. This will open up a virtual drive of yesterday's snapshot. You can then simply drag-and-drop the file(s) or folder(s) from yesterday's snapshot to your current desktop.
A More Worry-free Recovery Option
It’s now possible to “sandbox” new applications before installing them and potentially exposing your system to any unwanted changes. You can quickly undo whatever changes were made by the questionable game or other application. RollBack Rx allows gamers who want to protect themselves from game-installed disk drivers and root kits. It restores your primary drive (drive 0) on a bit-for-bit basis, giving you a much more robust recovery capability. If you choose instead to uninstall that trial program, game, or other questionable application there may still be files left over and changes made to your configuration files and registry entries that remain. Only RollBack Rx quickly and completely restores your system to how it was before the installation. This would be perfect for gamers who want a system optimized for gaming. These set configuration snapshots allow you to experiment with changes without potentially compromising your system set-up.
RollBack Rx enables you to defend against malware by also being the most effective malware removal tool available on the market today. You can simply return your PC to exactly how your system was before the virus attack ever happened.
You can quickly restore your crashed system to the last good working state in the amount of time it takes you to restart the machine. Even if Windows refuses to load you can still take a snapshot of the crashed system and restore the machine to an earlier snapshot and still explore the crashed system snapshot for files you may want to drag-and-drop into your current snapshot. This means that if you choose to reset your machine to an earlier point in time you don't have to accept a hard-reset to that snapshot, abandoning all your current files.
The Complete Windows 8 Business Backup Solution
Since RollBack Rx v10 is now fully integrated with Drive Cloner, all your snapshots can now be stored off-site. Your RollBack Rx snapshots can now be captured by Drive Cloner images providing a painless method to confront the threat of any data loss from simple human error to viruses to malicious hacks to hardware failures. And since all the snapshots are encoded using government-grade AES 256-bit encryption there's never any risk of unauthorized access to your company's sensitive information. RollBack Rx and Drive Cloner are a secure, up-to-date data storage system.

What is the best alternative to Windows System Restore?


RollBack Rx is a complete system restore solution that protects the entire contents of your hard drive. It protects everything, not just the system files. Moreover, if you experience the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or if Windows is not booting up -- RollBack Rx can still rescue you from this disaster. That's right -- RollBack Rx can still restore your entire system!  


Since RollBack Rx sits below Windows, it can be accessed prior to Windows boot-up by pressing the hotkey. Once you enter into the RollBack Rx sub-console you can then create a new snapshot and/or roll-back to any snapshot. Furthermore, you can recover any and all data up-to-the second of the System Crash! With Windows System Restore, if Windows cannot boot-up, System restore will not be accessible.

For more information on RollBack Rx and how it compares to existing solutions see our PC Maintenance Evolution whitepaper
What is RollBack Rx?
RollBack Rx™ is a robust windows system restore program that enables home users and IT professionals to easily restore a PC to a time before certain events occurred.  RollBack Rx makes it easy for users of all skill levels to quickly and easily repair PC issues -  saving time, money and PC trouble. With RollBack Rx you can...
  •   Reverse any system crash (even if Windows can't startup)
  •   Backout of any failed software installations, botched update etc. 
  •   Reverse user errors manually, or set Restore-on-Reboot or Log-off
  •   Roll back minutes, hours, or even months.  
  •   Roll backwards and forwards to any system snapshot 
  •   Allows users to safely test any software. Fast, 100% clean uninstaller
  •   Roll-back, yet recover files from your "future" snapshot(s)
  •   Retrieve files from a crashed PC, even if Windows can not boot
  •   Access control - prevent unauthorized users from access
  •   Automatically schedule snapshots or hard drive restores
  •   Day Zero Disaster Recovery with no data loss
  •   Group Management and Enterprise Network Administration Control
Watch RollBack Rx in action: 

RollBack Rx Product Video Horizon DataSys Profile Video


*The blue screen of death (BSoD) is the screen displayed by Microsoft's Windows operating system when it cannot (or is in danger of being unable to) recover from a system error. There are two Windows error screens that are both referred to as the blue screen of death, with one being significantly more serious than the other.

More information on Windows System Restore

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