System Restore in Windows XP saved me from a total Windows re-install on my laptop. When used correctly, it can save you MASSIVE amounts of time.
I invite you to read on and find out how I managed to recover from a total Windows catastrophe thanks to System Restore in Windows XP.
All my important documents, programs and files are on my desktop pc. That pc is protected by all the necessary security mechanisms (backup, firewall, antivirus, etc.)
I also have a wireless laptop that I use to surf on the internet and for entertainment, nothing important. I have deliberately kept all security related software far away from this laptop so that none of its processing power gets "wasted". I'd say this definately falls under the "don't try this at home" category, but if disaster strikes on this laptop, nothing of importance is lost.
At least, that was the basic idea.
As you can vividly imagine, over time more and more nice-to-have programs and data found their way to my laptop.
One evening, when I was surfing on the internet, I arrived at a website that was hosted on a virus-infected server and I literally saw my Windows XP being torn apart in front of my eyes. At least ten Internet Explorer windows popped up everywhere and all at once my desktop was crowded with group sex, cheap loans and online casino icons. This was literally in a few seconds time span.
Every window I tried to close triggered several new ones to open up.
Some say that you see your entire life flashing by when you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, well let me assure you that I saw all my digital photographs, mp3 files and my daughter's favorite game top-scores flashing by in a split-second.
And then I made a wise decision (at least, that's what my daughters say).
I pressed and held the power-button on my laptop, causing it to power down. Then I started up the laptop again, pressing and holding the F8 function key. That causes Windows to come up with an "advanced option menu". I started Windows in safe mode and immediately invoked System Restore in Windows XP safe mode. I selected the restore point that Windows had automatically made for me the day before and soon enough I was able to start up Windows in normal mode with no trace left of the virus infection.
I firmly believe that it is important to act quickly when you are confronted with a similar situation. If you wait to long to shut down your computer when a virus infection hits your pc, the virus will find its way into the deeper fibers of the operating system. Possibly (probably) it will even be backed up by System Restore in Windows XP.
Please don't see this story as an encouragement for not installing anti-virus and security software on your computer, because you should of course protect your computer properly.
I just wanted to point out that System Restore in Windows XP can help you bring your computer back to life when something serious happens.