How to restore XP system state?
June 21, 2006 11:34 AM   Subscribe

How to restore the "system state" data on an XP system?

I sent my laptop away for a hardware replacement, and they wiped the hard drive with one of their system restore CDs. No biggie, I backed everything up using the Backup Utility built into XP.

I have tried three times now (each time after reinstalling the OS from scratch) to restore the "System State" data from my backup, and each time the restore goes without any errors, but on reboot, windows shows my wallpaper but then stops booting. It is not frozen--I can do a control-alt-delete to get the task manager and so on--but it won't boot any further. In the task manager, there doesn't appear to be any program holding up the boot process. (Last night, I let it boot overnight to see if anything came up, and nothing did.)

I have the sneaking suspicion I'm not using the Restore tool correctly, but I've looked at all of the documentation online and it just doesn't appear that difficult. Going forward, I'm going to abandon this backup method in favor of just a straight disk image, but I would still like to know the proper procedure for restoring system state data from a backup. If possible, I'd still like to get my laptop exactly how it was before.

Has anyone done this successfully? (This is XP SP2, not affiliated with any AD)
posted by Brian James to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Restoring the System State is going to restore the Boot Files, COM + Class registration, and Registry settings to the pre-hardware replacement state. It's likely that you're using it correctly, but are restoring a driver or registry setting that's incompatible with the current hardware.

For what it's worth, I've found recovering the System State completely unreliable; the only time I've even attepted it was in trying to restore a lone domain controller (and at that point a million other things had already gone wrong.)
posted by Loser at 12:58 PM on June 21, 2006

Best answer: OK. What you need to do is this:

1. Make sure you still have your backup.
2. Create an Automated System Recovery floppy disk on any Windows XP Pro SP2 computer
3. Wipe the hard drive in the laptop.
4. Boot the laptop with the Windows XP install CD.
5. Hit F2 when prompted.
6. Insert your ASR floppy and enter the Automated System Recovery.
7. Perform a system restore from your backup media.
8. Reboot.
9. Enjoy.

As with all things Windows, YMMV depending on the will of the gods.
posted by ChazB at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2006

I backed everything up using the Backup Utility built into XP.

Your first mistake.
posted by sophist at 3:02 PM on June 21, 2006

Response by poster: Marking ChazB's answer as best, even though I haven't tried it, because I think the ASR step is what I was missing. The MS restore procedure basically requires that you have a floppy drive to go through ASR, which is inexplicably asinine.

I'm going to settle for just restoring my user profile (by this method for 2000, which works on XP) and my data, and call it a day.
posted by Brian James at 3:17 PM on June 21, 2006

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