System Restore Fails in Windows XP

Hello everyone,

I have tried everything to solve my problem together with 5 other tech gurus. There is only one solution left that we couldn't figure out, that is running system restore on windows xp (I use it for old software).

System restore points started to fail to complete and now they are vanishing. Even though there is enough space, system restore is working fine (recent restore point complete successfully) and restore points aren't corrupted since I've ran them successfully a couple of weeks ago.

The problem is that the restore point that I know works fine and could fix everything (I know because I've ran it before) is no longer visible in system restore but seems to be still in the system volume information folder.

My question is if there's a way to make the restore point visible in system restore or if there's a way to run system restore from somewhere else like from the system volume information folder.

Please do not suggest an OS reinstall. If you need further clarification, do not hesitate to ask.

Thanks in advance.
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King_DiamondAsked:
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Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the link. I've already accessed the system volume information folder. It's how I know that the restore point is still there. I've also tried running system restore in safe mode but it won't show up.
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Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
can we go back to the beginning: whats your problem exactly? maybe solving the issue will eliminate the need to use system restore.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
The problem is that after the install of a software trial, norton crashed (invaluable on an xp machine) and system restore started failing to complete. Today restore points started vanishing as well. So to fix norton and system restore, the only available solution seems to be a restore to the good working point. Yes I contacted norton but after 12 hours with remote access, they made it worse!

I've tried solving the issue by checking for viruses with 3 different antiviruses, ran chkdsk, sfc/scannow, manually uninstalling the software from all user profiles and registry, tried safe mode, etc. I've been trying for 3 weeks. System restore is the last option, hopefully.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
PS. I know that system restore will solve the problem because I did it a couple of weeks ago. What I forgot to mention was that I installed the software a second time since I didn't realise then what it was doing.
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Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
please facus with me on my questions and stay calm, maybe one step can fix everything. i don't hnestly relay on system restore, because there is no such thing as restore point vanished; its been overwritten by a previous restore point. if you have restore point 1,2,3 and the space allocated for restore points is full, a new restore point 4 is reacted in the place of 1, so it will be 2,3,4 ... same as CCTV system, the start copying on the last point when the space is full.

back you out issue, usually when i have a software that is causing trouble uninstalling, then reinstall it! you mentioned
after the install of a software trial, Norton crashed
... so if i were you, i would reinstall the trial software, then reinstall Norton (any applicable version that work on XP, even if trial license) ... by this step i ensure that any replaced files or corrupted ones will be replaced with working ones.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your reply. Please note that there are only 3 restore points now when I have always had around 12 restore points. As you said, a new restore takes place of the oldest. So space is not the issue. Before restore points vanished, the oldest restore point was from november! A month ago I would have agreed with you that they don't vanish since in over 20 years of fixing computers, this is the first time I saw it.

As for your suggestion to install the software and norton after uninstalling, I've done that but nothing changed. To be honest, I tried that 3 times and checked if anything changed before installing the other. I've also tried the software first and then norton and norton first and then the software but the problem still persists.

PS. Norton is with a licence and still supports xp. As for the corrupted files, I ran windows repair. Still, nothing changed.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
Generally the folder System Volume Information is very protected, but you can get inside it from the command line and psexec (with the option to run as SYSTEM, i.e. psexec -s -i cmd) and you shouldn't have to change any of the permissions to enter it.  You will have to be pretty good with the command line, though.

Take a look at https://wiki.lunarsoft.net/wiki/System_Volume_Information

That explains how you can rename the files manually within each RPXXX folder under SVI and copy them over to %systemroot%\System32\config manually.  You'll need a WinPE disc to do that since the files will be locked by Windows when Windows is running and since this is a XP box, you'll probably have to find an old WinPE disc as the newer ones probably won't work on old PCs.  UBCD4WIN probably would work fine.  You should only have to copy over the SOFTWARE and SYSTEM files as they make up the majority of HKLM in the registry.

This has nothing to do with the solution, but if you are using XP to run old software I suggest using VM software like VMWare and then keeping a backup copy of the VMK file in case something goes wrong.  Using System Restore as a backup is not a backup as you can see, nor a fix all.  If it's physical box and has to be a physical box, then invest in some backup software.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Adam,

Thanks for suggesting UBCD4Win. I will give it a try.

You are totally right about back ups and restore and I know that but for some reason I very rarely do back ups even though I suggest it to everyone!
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Sorry guys for taking so long to post back but I had to unexpectedly travel for work. I will try Adam's suggestion as soon as I get back and post results.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Seth,

I am currently away for work and will be back home in 2 weeks. To be able to try Adam's suggestion and post back, I need to be at home. This travelling was unexpected, else I would have opened the question later. So I would appreciate it if you could leave my question open. I apologize for the inconvience.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hello everyone,

I apologize to everyone following or participating in this question for taking so long to post back especially to Adam, because if you're anthing like me, you would appreciate to know whether your suggestion worked.

@Adam, So I have downloaded UBCD4WIN and it wasn't as straight forward as I thought, I mean download it and run it. It needs to be built first, with windows xp files. Since I don't know where the windows cd is and I'm pretty sure it's with service pack one, I've downloaded SP3 from the internet. UBCD4WIN failed to build with 2 errors and 40 warnings. So I've tried downloading other versions of SP3 and strangely enough, they all failed to build with the exact same number of errors and warnings! I have never used UBCD4WIN before and I'm guessing you have had some experience with this program. So perhaps you can suggest what I'm doing wrong or perhaps you can suggest a good SP3 download link? In the meantime, I'm trying to find the original windows cd. Thanks for your help.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
Hopefully this is allowed by E-E: you can do a search for Hirens Boot CD and that one should be pre-built and just work for booting outside out of the OS.  The problem with the new WinPE discs is that they might require more CPU than you currently have.  Unfortunately, I will be unable to link to any XP disc based on E-E rules.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

Thanks for your quick reply. I've asked for an XP SP3 download link as while searching, most websites are allowing its download since microsoft discontinued its support. I was unaware that it's not allowed here.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but Hirens is for booting outside windows. PC boots fine in windows. What's failing is system restore and apparently, UBCD4WIN can perform a system restore "offline". Am I wrong here?

I have found the original windows cd. I will try to build it and post back.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
You are manually doing what System Restore does:

That explains how you can rename the files manually within each RPXXX folder under SVI and copy them over to %systemroot%\System32\config manually.  You'll need a WinPE disc to do that since the files will be locked by Windows when Windows is running and since this is a XP box, you'll probably have to find an old WinPE disc as the newer ones probably won't work on old PCs.  UBCD4WIN probably would work fine.  You should only have to copy over the SOFTWARE and SYSTEM files as they make up the majority of HKLM in the registry.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Adam,

Actually I managed to unlock the SVI folder by giving it full permissions. However the relevant files seem to be scattered in different folders and got lost here.

I agree with you that UBCD4WIN can do the job, at least it's the only viable suggestion unless you or someone else can suggest something else. So I'm doing a good research on it.

I've tried building UBCD4WIN with the original XP CD (which is with SP1) and it failed as well with 2 errors and 1 warning! Is it possibly that the UBCD4WIN that I've downloaded is corrupted or otherwise? I've downloaded version 3.60 from ............ can I say where I downloaded it from here?

Thanks again.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
There should be a bunch of folders RPXXX under System Volume Information, where XXX is a number.  The higher the number the later the date.  That's where the SYSTEM and SOFTWARE files should be.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the explanation. However, the XXX number is clueless since there are later restore points after the restore point I know works. Hence I've tried searching by date modified (I was looking for the restore point date that works) and I've found files with this date in different RP folders. I thought one restore point files would be under one RP folder! Is that normal?

Anyways I'm still researching UBCD4WIN. I want to manage to build it and hoping your solution will work.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
You can find the files you want like this:

dir _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM /s /o:d

Open in new window


That should sort the files by date and you should be able to ID the RP folder you want.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

Thanks for the suggestion. However I have never done this before and I don't know what follows next. Can you please explain further?

As regards UBCD4WIN, I have learnt that the errors are missing files while the warnings are missing drivers. So I've ran it again for both SP1 and SP3 and made a list of the missing files and drivers. I am now trying to find these files and drivers to hopefully manage to successfully build UBCD4WIN.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
Once you boot with UBCD4WIN, you will run the following:

1. Open command prompt
2. mkdir C:\backup
3. copy C:\windows\System32\config\SYSTEM C:\backup
4. copy C:\windows\System32\config\SOFTWARE C:\backup
5. cd\
6. cd "system volume information"
7. dir _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM /s /o:d

This sorts the results by date, once you find the RP folder that has the registry files you want

8. cd RPXXX
9. cd snapshot
10. copy /y _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SYSTEM C:\windows\System32\config\SYSTEM
11. copy /y _REGISTRY_MACHINE_SOFTWARE C:\windows\System32\config\SOFTWARE
12. Reboot and try it
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

Thank you for the step by step explanation.  I am still searching for the missing files and drivers for UBCD4WIN. It's not that easy finding them. However, I can boot and access command promt normally so I guess I can run the procedure you outlined above. In case something goes wrong, will I be able to revert back without using system restore? I'm trying to avoid creating new restore points so not to overwrite the restore point that works.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
We backup the system registry files in steps 3 and 4.

This is purely an educational exercise at this point.  The chances of you getting back to a stable restore point are virtually zero since you did a repair of XP and that usually will wipe any restore points on the system and usually restore points are aged and purged after 90 days.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

I've noticed step 3 and 4 but I've never done a system restore outside of system restore. So unless I manage to build UBCD4WIN, I don't know how to do an "offline" restore, hence my question.

I thought system restore replaces old restore points if it reaches the full allocated storage space and not dependant on time. In fact, I am only using the xp machine to try suggestions and trying to build UBCD4WIN on another machine so to avoid new restore being created and deleting the old ones. Am I wrong?

As regards the windows repair, I agree. I tried it after everything I knew failed. However I can see many files in the SVI folder with the good restoration date, so I'm hoping it might work!
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Adam,

Just an update to inform you that I managed to find all the missing files for UBCD4WIN. However I am still searching for the missing drivers. I've decided to try your step by step suggestion when I hopefully manage to build UBCD4WIN so to avoid new restore points being automatically created and overwriting the old ones. I hope you agree.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
The only driver you should have to worry about is the mass storage driver.  The rest are not critical.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Adam,

In fact, after further research I've learnt that UBCD4WIN can be built without all the drivers. I was going to try to build it but after reading your post, I will try to find the mass storage driver first. Can you please tell me the exact name of the driver? And is this driver different for SP1 and SP3? I'm going to try to build UBCD4WIN for both service packs. Thanks.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
The mass storage driver depends on the hardware XP is running on.  What is the make and model of your XP machine?
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

No make and model. I customized built the machine myself a long time ago. Unless the hardware came with a driver cd like nVidia, I used windows drivers. So I'm pretty sure the mass storage driver is a windows pre-installed driver. Is there a way to know which driver am I using, like from device manager? To be honest, I don't recall installing such driver.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
I would boot UBCD4WIN and see if you can see the hard drive.  Otherwise, SIV (http://rh-software.com/) should be able to tell you what driver it's using.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

Thanks for suggesting SIV. However I'm reluctant to install new software since new installations often automatically create a new system restore point and I'm afraid this will overwrite the old working restore point. Since I'm pretty sure the driver is a windows pre-installed driver (hence included in the service packs), I've tried building UBCD4WIN with the files and drivers I already have. This is what happened:

With SP1: I've managed to find all the missing files and drivers. It built successfully without errors and warnings. However during build up, it threw a lot of incomplete functions. I don't know if this effects UBCD4WIN or what it means.

With SP3: I've found all the missing files but missing over 30 drivers. It built successfully with no errors but with warnings (because of the missing drivers).

If you think any or both builds will work, I will create a bootable cd(s) and give it a try. Thanks for your assistance.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
If you have another computer, you should be able to install SIV and then just copy it to the C: drive of your XP machine and just run it.  I would go with the SP3 build, boot the XP machine and see if you can see the C: drive.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I didn't know SIV can be copied. I will give it a try then.

I will go with SP3 as you suggested. One question about this, do I just burn the built files or do I need to do something else to make it boot-able?
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
You'll need to burn the ISO file as a bootable image.  If you are using a CD I would recommend IMGBURN (www.imgburn.com) or Rufus if you are using a USB stick (https://rufus.akeo.ie/)
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
I'm gonna use a cd since I don't have an empty usb stick. I have Nero for burning. UBCD4WIN created a number of files so my question is, do I have to create an iso file like with Poweriso before burning the cd or do I just choose to burn all the files as an iso disk?

I have downloaded and tried SIV. A nice piece of utility software but I couldn't find the list of drivers. Did I miss it?
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
UBCDWIN should create the ISO file itself, then you burn that with Nero.

Drivers should be under PCI BUS tab

I looked at my computer with SIV and it's using an Intel Q170 chipset (AHCI).
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi,

UBCD4WIN created 6 folders and 5 files but no ISO file. Since one of the files is autorun.inf, should the files just be burnt as is?

I'm sorry but I still cannot find the drivers list in SIV. Clicking the PCI Bus tab, it lists vendors and device descriptions. Clicking the PCI Bus tab drop-down, there's a list of BUSs and devices but no drivers.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
I don't think so but I will run it again to be sure and get back to you. Perhaps it's because we have different versions? From your screenshot I see you have version 3.1 while I have version 3.6.

As you suggested, I need to find which mass storage driver I need to include in the build which I'm stuck at.
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Adam LeinssServer SpecialistCommented:
King_Diamond,

I've gone as far as I can on this question.    I've laid out the process that I would have done to try to restore the system and we're here 3 months later trying to build a bootable ISO that shouldn't have taken more than 15 minutes tops to do.  

Good luck in your endeavor, but I can't help you any further with this question.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Adam,

I understand. I actually think that you have done much more than enough and I really appreciate your help, assistance and most of all, your patience. I know it took way too long to solve this question, but it didn't go as smooth as I had hoped.

As I stated in my last post, I'm getting back to you with what happened with UBCD4WIN. Actually, for some unknown reason, it didn't run! So I downloaded it again. The version I downloaded now is exactly the same as per your screenshot. Even though I downloaded the 3.6 version, the window shows version 3.1! So I guess the part as regards UBCD4WIN is solved.

However as you suggested, I need to include the mass storage driver in the build which I did not yet find using SIV.

If you have no further suggestions or if you want me to close this question, please do not hesitate to tell me so. As I said, I'm really grateful for all your assistance. Thank you very much.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Hi Adam,

I take it that you have no further assistance to offer since you normally reply immediately. But since I'm not sure (perhaps you were busy), I will close this question in 3 days, giving you the chance to post a comment, should you wish to do so. It's the least I can do after all your assistance and patience. Thanks again.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Closing question.....

@Adam, Thanks again.
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King_DiamondAuthor Commented:
Closing comment: The problem was not solved but since there were no more suggestions, I have to close the question. I chose Adam's suggestion as the best solution for suggesting UBCD4WIN, since this was actually the "best solution".
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