Windows System Restore is one of the best tools built into the Microsoft OS. I have a story I’ll share here about a client who was having Upload Center problems with Office 365. Then I’ll share some other ways this tool can back you out of a software problem.
This versatile tool is found in the System Tools area in Windows 7. For Windows 8, just type in ‘System Restore’, and it’ll come up. It is mainly used for rolling your computer back to an earlier time after installing a driver or buggy program.
My client contacted me about a problem with the Upload Center in Office 365. Two excel files she uses regularly would not save back to their original SharePoint site (we won’t go into the reasons why). I’ve got an image of a correctly-working upload center here. When there is an error, you will see the error message pop up in the center of the window telling you what to do. This message said to clear or delete the cached files to correct the problem. Well, the problem was the settings button was not available and so we couldn’t clear it out. I went to the O365 forums and found the same problem and a couple ways to fix the problem.
Of course when I got there and tried to execute the fix, it wouldn’t work. The ‘solution’ was to delete the cached file folder. When that was done, the ‘clog’ should have been removed and the Upload Center should be able to function again. I found there were 2 files inside the folder that would not delete – I got error messages saying they couldn’t be deleted because they were being used by a Microsoft program. So I tried rebooting to try (nothing), and then I rebooted into Safe Mode and tried to delete OR rename the folder, but neither would work.
So it was either go back to the forums and keep searching or call Microsoft help. I have called them a few times and they’ve always been able to solve my problems—it just takes some time to do this.
That’s when I got the idea to try System Restore. I’d recommended it to other people as a way to fix other software problems. I thought if we could turn back the clock on this work station to a time before she started having problems, it should fix it without having to spend more time in the forums or on the phone.
So I started up System Restore – here you are reassured that none of your files, music or anything else you may have added or revised will be deleted or changed!
Then click on the ‘next’ button (not pictured).
Then check over your restore points. I clicked the ‘show more restore points’, to see how far back I could go. Here I have 5 points that go back about a month. If you feel you need more restore points, there is an opportunity to set more points when you first start the tool.
We found a good restore point for her work station and began the process. This can take from 5-15 minutes or more, depending on many factors. This one took close to 15”, then after the reboot and login, I checked the Upload Center. I was surprised to see an error. It said to click to repair. Holding my breath, I clicked it and this time it went through the repair process and fixed the problem. I don’t know if it fixed another, older problem or the same one. It happened pretty quickly. Then the error message was gone and we made sure the Site was all synced up to her OneDrive for Business in Windows Explorer and she was good!
While this may not be a recommended or conventional way to fix an Office 365 problem, thinking creatively got her back up and running in a shorter time.
So what are some other uses for System Restore? Remember it’ll take off programs and drivers that you might have installed that give you problems. But you could also use it to get rid of browser extensions you either installed or got by accident while installing other software. Perhaps you got one of those annoying toolbars when installing a program (sneakware, I call them). Use System Restore to time travel back and get rid of those pesky things. Sometimes when you remove those things, not everything really goes away. Using System Restore should make it like it never happened!
I hope this article helps you in your particular software problem. Let me know how you have used System Restore!