Microsoft claims that Windows 8 is the fastest and most reliable version of the world’s most popular operating system so far. While this might be true, there are always things that can go wrong. One day, you might find that your computer refuses to boot into Windows due to a problem with a critical system file or something similar. Perhaps a new driver installation went wrong or malicious software was responsible for damaging your Windows installation folder. Regardless of the reason, Windows 8 includes a variety of tools to help you recover your system and get it up and running again. Some of these tools are very similar to their Windows 7 counterparts, although there are also some improvements and changes across the board. The following takes a look at the system recovery tools in Windows 8 and explains how to use them to their fullest.
Introduced with Windows ME, System Restore has come to be an essential part of the Windows operating system. In Windows 8, it is activated by default on the system hard drive or partition. This is the location where Windows 8, and by default, your programs and personal files will be stored. While System Restore should not be seen as a backup program as such, it does make copies of essential system files as well as driver and program installations. Depending on how much hard drive space is allocated to System Restore, additional, non-critical data may also be backed up in some cases.
To start System Restore, simply type “rstrui” (without quotes) at the Start screen and press Enter. If your computer is currently unworkable and Windows will not start up, you can also access System Restore from the Advanced Recovery interface by mashing the F8 key before Windows starts to load.
Be aware that using system Restore will require that you reinstall any programs and drivers installed after the creation of the restore point. However, it will not modify your personal files. In spite of this, it is still a good idea to back them up before running any kind of system recovery operation.
System File Checker
System File Checker is a command line utility which will scan the core system files of your operating system and let you know if any of them have been altered, deleted or damaged. If Windows is behaving unreliably or unusually, you can use this utility to find out whether or not it is because your operating system’s protected files have been tampered with. If they have been, it is likely to be malicious software that’s responsible.
To run the utility, open the Run command using the Windows Key and R keyboard shortcut. Type “cmd” and press Enter to open the Administrator Command Prompt. To start a scan, type “sfc /scannow” (without quotes). If any repairs are required, you may be asked to restart your computer.
The Windows Refresh feature is completely new to Windows 8. It allows you to completely restore your operating system to its default factory installation. This is only to be used in the event that System Restore and all other methods have failed since this will completely reinstall the operating system. In spite of this, your personal files will be kept along with your installed Metro apps and some of your personalization settings. All desktop applications and non-default drivers will be removed, however.
You can access Windows Refresh from the F8 boot menu mentioned previously. Alternatively, you can access it from within Windows itself by clicking the “Settings” button in the charms bar on the Start screen followed by “Change PC Settings.” Beneath the “General” category, click “Get Started” followed by “Refresh Your PC.”
Another recovery feature introduced in Windows 8 is Windows Reset. This feature is also accessible in the same way as Windows Refresh. It works in much the same way as well, although there is one key difference – absolutely everything which was originally on your hard disk will be deleted. This includes all of your personal files, customizations and Metro apps. If you are selling or donating your computer, Windows Refresh is generally the option to go for.