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Can't Do a System Restore


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#1 Bub12

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 07:03 PM

Hi,

When I do a System Restore, all seems to go well until after the reboot when I am prompted that "could not restore system to previous point" or something to that affect. I am running XP Pro, many restore points are available & as I mentioned, every step of the restore process appears to be going along well.

I have no idea why this is happening. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Update- Disabled AV & Firewall, then tried again....same result! Also tried in safe mode.

I should probably say the I am trying to do a system restore because after running the install disc for a Linksys router, it installed Network Magic! Had no idea I would have such a hard time removing it. I did remove the program via the add/remove programs, but much of it still remains & can be found in its folders. I cannot delete the folder as I am prompted that nmagnt.dll is running or writeable only or something to that affect. I figured it would be easier to do a system restore...

Update 2- I think I finally removed all the Network Magic/Pure Network junk but I still would like to know why I cannot do a system restore.

Edited by Bub12, 19 December 2009 - 08:34 PM.


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#2 AustrAlien

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 06:04 AM

I still would like to know why I cannot do a system restore.

Corruption of the system restore points is a common occurrence.
As I understand it, if one system restore point is corrupted, then all subsequent restore points will also be corrupt. The link below contains instructions to get System Restore functioning correctly again and I enclose a relevant quote from that link. It is recommended that the System Restore function be checked on a regular basis.
Troubleshoot System Restore “Restore Point Failures” in Windows XP
http://bertk.mvps.org/html/srfail.html

# Test System Restore to confirm it is functioning correctly.* Create a new restore point named TEST.
* Create a new folder on the desktop an name it TEST.
* Now restore to the Test restore point.
* You will receive a message if the restore was successful, and the Test folder on the desktop will be gone.
* The above test can also be performed in Safe Mode.
* If this fails, that would indicate there is a corrupt restore point and all restore points should be purged.
# How to purge the System Restore Store.* To do so Turn off System Restore follow these steps:o Click Start, right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
o Click the System Restore tab.
o Put a check next to ‘Turn off System Restore on all drives’, then click OK.
o Click Yes when you receive the prompt to the turn off System Restore.
o Reboot the system.
* Turn System Restore back on by following the previous steps and uncheck ‘Turn off System Restore on all drives’. A new restore point will be automatically created at that time.o As suggested earlier it is not necessary to have System Restore monitor Partitions/drives that Windows is not installed on.
o Test System Restore as previously described.
[/list]


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#3 Bub12

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 01:51 PM

I still would like to know why I cannot do a system restore.

Corruption of the system restore points is a common occurrence.
As I understand it, if one system restore point is corrupted, then all subsequent restore points will also be corrupt. The link below contains instructions to get System Restore functioning correctly again and I enclose a relevant quote from that link. It is recommended that the System Restore function be checked on a regular basis.
Troubleshoot System Restore “Restore Point Failures” in Windows XP
http://bertk.mvps.org/html/srfail.html

# Test System Restore to confirm it is functioning correctly.* Create a new restore point named TEST.
* Create a new folder on the desktop an name it TEST.
* Now restore to the Test restore point.
* You will receive a message if the restore was successful, and the Test folder on the desktop will be gone.
* The above test can also be performed in Safe Mode.
* If this fails, that would indicate there is a corrupt restore point and all restore points should be purged.
# How to purge the System Restore Store.* To do so Turn off System Restore follow these steps:o Click Start, right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
o Click the System Restore tab.
o Put a check next to ‘Turn off System Restore on all drives’, then click OK.
o Click Yes when you receive the prompt to the turn off System Restore.
o Reboot the system.
* Turn System Restore back on by following the previous steps and uncheck ‘Turn off System Restore on all drives’. A new restore point will be automatically created at that time.o As suggested earlier it is not necessary to have System Restore monitor Partitions/drives that Windows is not installed on.
o Test System Restore as previously described.
[/list]



Thanks AustrAlien!

And sure, I could just reset my restore points & create a new one but then I lose the ability to restore back to a time in the past...a time prior to using that darn install disc by Linksys, correct?

Happy Holidays!

#4 Stang777

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 02:26 PM

I had a time where I had to try 5 or 6 different restore points before I found one that worked. I just kept going back further in time and finally one worked, so I would just keep trying different restore points.

Yes, if you purge all the restore by resetting system restore you will lose the ability to use any current restore points as they will be deleted. There is one way around that though, you can copy them into another folder and then copy them back in the system restore folder before resetting it, but it won't change anything if they are corrupted.

Edited by Stang777, 21 December 2009 - 02:29 PM.


#5 AustrAlien

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 01:33 AM

sure, I could just reset my restore points & create a new one but then I lose the ability to restore back to a time in the past

Unless you are able to find an earlier suitable restore point that actually works, you have already lost "the ability to restore back to a time in the past...a time prior to using that darn install disc by Linksys"

You wrote: "Update 2- I think I finally removed all the Network Magic/Pure Network junk ....... "
Is there some particular reason that you still wish to perform a "system restore"? If there is, please explain or describe the issue.

It may still be possible to perform an "off-line system restore", but I would not suggest attempting it unless there was a significant reason for doing so.
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#6 joseibarra

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 06:51 AM

My first question regarding those kinds of messages:

Are you running any Norton products?

Norton will thwart SR with it's "protection".

http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/share...005113009323013

What is an "off-line system restore"?

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#7 AustrAlien

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 07:09 AM

What is an "off-line system restore"?

G'day joseibarra
Something like this ...
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?...545&sd=tech
or preferably ...
http://2pure.net/index.php?session=0&a...icle=1150238652

With regard to the above, I am assuming it is not actually the restore point data that is corrupt, but the data controlling the function of the System Restore utility. If that is the case, an off-line system restore would work just fine.

Re: The possible use of software that may cause System Restore to fail
This is covered in the article that I linked to above and I was assuming/hoping that the OP would have read that.
It is a good point that you make, and perhaps I should have actually mentioned it.
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#8 joseibarra

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 08:16 AM

Yes - I am familiar with that process and could do it in my sleep, but I would not call it a system restore, and it is just my opinion.

Here is a convincing test if you have a functioning system:

Create a Restore Point and using Add/Remove Programs uninstall something simple like Games. Reboot and Games are gone. Perform a System Restore, reboot and the all the games are back and work fine.

Uninstall Games again, reboot and implement KB307545 or some similar other method, reboot and you will see that you still have no Games.

Therefore, a "real" System Restore and KB307545 (or similar methods) are not equivalent. System Restore does a lot more than replace 5 files which is what those articles instruct you to do.

These methods of manual or off-line system restore allow you to get your broken system running long enough to do a proper System Restore (if it is still needed) but it is not equal to a System Restore.

The often overlooked step in KB307545 is Part 4. People are just too excited after Part 3 and quit!

System Restore should still work though and I always lead off with the Norton question so we'll see what Bub12 has to say and fix it if it needs fixin! :thumbsup:

Edited by joseibarra, 22 December 2009 - 08:32 AM.

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#9 Bub12

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 10:55 AM

Hi all & thanks for the replies. I have not yet had a chance to get into the links but I will do so today.

Is there some particular reason that you still wish to perform a "system restore"? If there is, please explain or describe the issue.


Well, the only reason I would want to perform the restore is to be certain all is removed that was installed with the Cisco disc. I am guessing that there is more junk on my machine buried somewhere. I ran searches for names such as "Cisco" "Network Magic" & more but perhaps there are still files under names of which I wouldn't know to search. The restore is not nearly as critical as it once was though.

Are you running any Norton products?


No, nothing Norton however, I disabled my Avast & Comodo products prior to restoring. I dod not however disable SAS or MBAM. Could they be responsible?

I will further investigate the links that were provided....stay tuned!

#10 Papakid

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 11:12 PM

Are you running any Norton products?


No, nothing Norton however, I disabled my Avast & Comodo products prior to restoring. I dod not however disable SAS or MBAM. Could they be responsible?

Yes, MBAM could be responsible for System Restore corruption. Have you allowed it to remove anything from the System Volume Information folder? It's not mentioned in the excellent Aumha articles by Bert Kinney but this is how some security scanners corrupt SR. Best I can determine, when an "infected" restore point is removed the SR log becomes inconsistent with the remaining Restore Points that are present and so SR doesn't know exactly what to do. So it is absolutely correct that deleting all old restore points will fix SR as the log will also get reset. So as AustrAlien has mentioned, if SR isn't working, then you might as well purge SR so that it works in the future.

On the other hand, when AVG integrated ewido anitmalware into its antivrus engine beginning with version 8.0, it began to remove "infected" restore points as well. I can verify that SR was broken after I allowed AVG to remove some restore points (done while testing version 8.0). I deleted all restore points and SR was fixed. A little later SR was broken again in the same way. This time I left SR alone, didn't reset it, and then tested SR a few weeks later. Low and behold SR worked fine. So it may be that the SR log corrects itself after a period of time. This makes sense since old restore points are purged on a first in first out basis, so the log must update periodically. I just wish that all scanners would just leave SR the hell alone. "Infected Restore Points are inactive backups and won't affect anything unless System Restore is used to revert to a prior state--and even then it is questionable if a malware infection would be fully restored. Two pet peeves of mine are scanners removing restore points and antivirus vendors telling people to turn off SR before conducting a scan. It gives System Restore a bad reputation that it doesn't deserve.

Re: The possible use of software that may cause System Restore to fail
This is covered in the article that I linked to above and I was assuming/hoping that the OP would have read that.
It is a good point that you make, and perhaps I should have actually mentioned it.

Norton isn't mentioned on the page you linked to but I"m sure it is on others of Bert Kinney's website. I don't recall reading of Norton breaking SR as part of a means of self-protection but it's been a while since I've looked over the site. Just another reason not to use Symantec, even tho they had gotten some better lately. On a related note, I recently discovered that using SR will break AntiVir's Guard/OnAccess scanner, I assume it's also because of how AntiVir protects itself. But that is better than it breaking SR, it's easier to reinstall AntiVir.

As far as what AustrAlien is calling an "off-line system restore", it is correct that it isn't exactly the same thing as the Windows feature called System Restore. What you are doing there is restoring the registry from a backup, usually because the registry is corrupted and you can't boot into windows. It is still a "system" restore because that is a way to get your system back if successful, if not you'll have to reinstall Windows--been there done that.

The Windows feature known as System Restore recovers both (most of) the registry and a large amount of files. To get an idea of which files get backed up and which don't, see another of Bert Kinney's pages:
http://bertk.mvps.org/html/filesfolders.html

That's assuming you are running XP. SR works differently in Vista.

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#11 joseibarra

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 08:48 AM

I would say if you are even remotely suspicious of your RPs or recovered from an infection, assume all RPs are compromised, hold your breath, whack them all, make a new one and test it immediately. It the new one doesn't work, then you have something to troubleshoot with no preexisting possible problems - the maybe, could be, might be kinds of things will not be part of your equation if you start anew.

Maybe it has been broken for a long time and you jut never knew about it until you actually tried to use it.

MS suggests in a few places if SR fails, "try" it in Safe Mode. I am not a tryer and it would seem to me that it should work in normal mode. If I ever saw that it only worked in Safe Mode, then I would be compelled to figure out what the deal was and it would annoy me to know end until I figured it out and fixed it.

More severe SR problems sometimes only seems fixable by reinstalling SR which is not difficult, but you still lose all your old RPs in the process anyway. If you whack the old ones, make a new one and it doesn't work in any kind of mode, reinstall SR. It isn't hard to do and I can help you with that. I have some copy/paste instructions somewhere that will tell you how to deal with the questions you will undoubtedly be asked if you go that route.

I have never seen the installation of MBAM or SAS interfere with SR or have any special instructions about it and don't know what would happen if it found a problem in an existing RP, but if it ever did report an issue in an existing RP on my system, I would never, ever trust any of them and whack them all and start over with a clean slate. There is nothing "running" when the free versions of MBAM and SAS are installed, so I don't see how they could interfere. I don't know about your other protection methods.

I have also never used SR to recover from any problem, but it still happily runs on my system. Maybe I will need it someday. I have tested it in the past to be sure the mechanism is sound or to test an idea or somebody else's problem to make sure my understanding is not flawed - like reinstalling SR - how do you actually do that? Now I know.

Norton most certainly can interfere and if they didn't, they would not have written a KB about what to do about it, but you say you are not using it and I believe that!

It should work. If it doesn't work it need fixing even if like me, you never plan to use it.

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#12 Papakid

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 02:22 PM

I have never seen the installation of MBAM or SAS interfere with SR or have any special instructions about it and don't know what would happen if it found a problem in an existing RP, but if it ever did report an issue in an existing RP on my system, I would never, ever trust any of them and whack them all and start over with a clean slate. There is nothing "running" when the free versions of MBAM and SAS are installed, so I don't see how they could interfere. I don't know about your other protection methods.

My apologies as I wasn't very clear on this subject. It is not the installation of MBAM that could cause a problem. So disabling it (if you purchased the "pro" version as there is nothing to disable in the freeware one) will not make any difference. It is when a person scans with MBAM and allows it to remove "infected" restore points that you could end up with a broken SR. This can be true of any scanner that removes files from System Volume Information (SVI), just as it was true for AVG 8.0 when I ran empirical tests on it.

I haven't run tests with MBAM, but I've seen numerous logs in the forums where it quarantines files from SVI. I've also seen numerous logs from AVG's malware scanner, starting when it was first developed under the name of ewido, then was bought by Grisoft/AVG to become AVG AntiSpyware, and was then integrated into the AVG antivirus engine. It has always removed "infected" restore points from SVI and my tests of AVG 8.0 prove that this breaks SR at least temporarily--and that turning off SR and then turning it back on again to delete all old restore points is an immediate fix.

I would say if you are even remotely suspicious of your RPs or recovered from an infection, assume all RPs are compromised, hold your breath, whack them all, make a new one and test it immediately. It the new one doesn't work, then you have something to troubleshoot with no preexisting possible problems - the maybe, could be, might be kinds of things will not be part of your equation if you start anew.

I agree with this with some exceptions, tho I would phrase it differently. The main exception is that I wouldn't purge SR just on suspicion of infected restore points--or even supposed confirmation by scanners like MBAM. Without a doubt SR should be purged when your system is truly a victim of infection. But it should happen after cleanup of the infection. This is standard procedure in the malware removal forums and also agrees with Bert Kinney:
http://bertk.mvps.org/html/spyware.html

Some people and large company’s recommend that System Restore be turned off and all Restore Points deleted before attempting spyware removal. DO NOT DO THIS. If something goes wrong (anything is possible) you will have no way to reverse your actions. You'll want to delete your old Restore Points, but the time to do that is later, not now.

There is also a reason I use quote marks on infected when referring to "infected" restore points. As I established earlier, SR backs up several files and even files by type/extension. Security scanners (antivirus, antimalware, etc.) typically pick up remnants and leftovers of previous infection, even tho the active elements of that infection have been removed. Even evil executables can be stored on your hard drive and won't harm you if they aren't active. Using System Restore won't make make an inactive infection active. In my tests with AVG, I had several inactive malware samples in a small zoo on my hard drive (common practice for those of us who do malware removal) and these were getting backed up by SR. Now this is not a consideration for the average user, but in my case I don't want a scanner breaking SR because I have inactive malware files onboard that I already know about.

But what about false positives and other less worrisome detections. This happens all the time--people break SR not knowing that there was no good reason to do so. Some software gets a bad reputation that follows them around forever. If you go to MBAM's home page, you will see that Adware.MyWebSearch is the number one "threat" that gets removed. I wouldn't have it on my system, but it is not a threat to anyone and it's not even adware. When it first came out it was bundled with several programs like the free version of Kazaa (and many other free P2P's) so it is foistware and people wanted it removed because they didn't know how it got on their system. But it doesn't do anything other than some tracking--which isn't any more harmful than the tracking that Google does. But many people download it voluntarily because, among other reasons, they like to insert smileys in their emails. I recommend that anyone that has it should remove it--but by uninstalling it just like any other software. You don't need MBAM--or any other scanner for that matter--detecting it and removing restore points from the SVI folder and breaking SR because of it. Plus it makes people worry unnecessarily that they have had something on their system that is going to steal passwords and/or their identity, etc.

Much the same can be said of the PopCap games loader, but I digress...

Here's the bottom line: The kind of error Bub12 is asking about is usually caused by a corrupted System Restore cache. To fix it, you just have to bite the bullet/cut your losses and delete all your previous restore points by turning System Restore off and then back on again. You don't have to create a restore point to test if SR works. When you turn on SR again (and assuming the problem is a corrupted cache) a new Restore point gets created. So you can just use that new restore point to test if SR works or not. Whatever problems you were having that you wanted to use SR to resolve you will have to find a fix another way--but at least now you have the safety net of a working SR.

If this doesn't fix the problem, then you can look into reinstalling SR if that is what further troubleshooting indicates.

Norton most certainly can interfere and if they didn't, they would not have written a KB about what to do about it, but you say you are not using it and I believe that!

I'm a bit confused here. I've been looking in this thread for where anyone said Norton won't interfere with SR but can't find it. Could you point that out for me?


MS suggests in a few places if SR fails, "try" it in Safe Mode. I am not a tryer and it would seem to me that it should work in normal mode. If I ever saw that it only worked in Safe Mode, then I would be compelled to figure out what the deal was and it would annoy me to know end until I figured it out and fixed it.

I'm confused again. Tests are by definition trials. So how can you advocate testing and refuse to try things? How can you "figure out what the deal was" if you don't run tests? Running a trial of System Restore in Safe Mode and always running System Restore in safe mode are two different things. In itself it is troubleshooting, figuring out what the deal is. If System Restore works in Safe Mode and not in Normal mode, then it is an indication that a process (like maybe Norton) is interfering with SR. That is what safe mode is for and why it is also known as diagnostic mode. Don't get me wrong, I understand the frustration of people just saying try it in safe mode without letting you know that it is should be done for diagnostic purposes, not a routine procedure, but as stated, your comments sound contradictory and closed minded.

Now to get back on topic. Bub12, if any of your security scanners has quarantined anything from the SVI folder let us know. Whether or not that is the case I suggest you do the following to get System Restore back.

1. Turn SR off then back on again. You can find instructions on how to disable and re-enable System Restore here:

Windows XP System Restore Guide

2. Once your system has rebooted, test SR. There should only be one Restore point and if you test it immediately there won't be any changes to reverse. Just see if SR works. Report back here any message you get other than that the Restoration was successful.

Or you can use Bert Kinney's test to make sure that files are handled correctly:
http://bertk.mvps.org/html/tips.html#3

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#13 Bub12

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 04:18 PM

Thanks All...very informative!

Have you allowed it to remove anything from the System Volume Information folder?


If memory serves me, there were some MBAM FP's a while back that I may have allowed the program to remove. Perhaps that was the cause of the SR issues.

I will reset the restore points & post back with the results later today or tomorrow.

Thanks again!

#14 joseibarra

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 05:09 PM

Here is the Norton inference:

http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/share...005113009323013

I have seen the reported error "Restoration Incomplete. Your computer cannot be restored..." resolved after following those directions when Norton is installed and one happy camper was the result afterwards. Now I alway try to ask that question first instead of asking it later. Sometimes it works out.

I figure it they wrote about it, they must have heard it a few times before, so it is almost always my first question with that symptom. I am not a Norton fan for a long time now and don't feel like experimenting to find out for myself about that one.

Am I misinterpreting something about that?

I think that if MBAM or anybody else breaks the RP chain by tinkering with an old RP, I would not trust any of them and would start over with new RPs by turning SR off/on when the system was clean. I think that happened to me once and it was peculiar because it was suddenly after an update to MBAM that it picked on one of my RPs that it die not complain about before... So, I whacked them all, made a new one and tested SR.

I have never used SR to resolve any issue on my system but it is running and I want to know it is there and works when I experiment (on occasion). I am not as exposed or likely to encounter an infection as folks with different surfing habits might run into. You BC experts have certainly seen and fixed a lot more stuff than me. :thumbsup:

I have most certainly run SR in Safe Mode to be sure it works as I expect it to but I would sure like to get my hands on a system where SR does not work normally and does work in Safe Mode so I could try to figure out why that is and not have some mystery. On this note, MS does not say what "doesn't work" means, but does say:

If System Restore doesn't work in Normal Mode, it might work in Safe Mode. To use System Restore in Safe Mode, press the F8 key during reboot and choose Safe Mode. When your computer starts in either Safe Mode or Normal Mode, System Restore can be used to capture a working previous state. System Restore can't be opened unless the system is bootable into one of these modes.


I'm almost fine with that but don't like the "might" word. If Bub12 gets SR to work in Safe Mode, that would be a head scratcher for me, but it seems to be the only way sometimes. I thought I suggested a try in Safe Mode - maybe not, but I probably should have.

I agree (and suggested) that if Bub12 wants to know for sure SR works - turn off/on SR, make a new RP, test it immediately and troubleshoot that if it doesn't work.

Thanks for the information exchange, Papakid.

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#15 Bub12

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 08:55 PM

Well, system restore does in fact work okay. I just wiped all restore points & started anew. I was of course trying to restore my pc back to a past time but since that apparently wasn't going to happen, coupled with the restore no longer being so important, I just reset System Restore, restored back to the new restore point & viola!

Thanks very much all & have a Merry Christmas!




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