I grew up on the Windows operating system and through the years have learned how to easily navigate in it and do everything I need to do. I know many people absolutely hate Windows and Microsoft but I am not one of those people. I have had mostly good experiences with Windows through the years and am comfortable with its operating framework and need to update security patches on a monthly (or more frequent basis).
That does not mean I am stuck in the dark ages refusing to use new technology. I have an iphone and an ipad and also love those devices but when I had to buy a personal machine for a side business I work on I chose an economical Gateway laptop running Windows 7. Priced at less than $400 I am not sure it is possible to get more value for such a usable machine. I have been using this machine regularly for about 9 months now with no problems until late April when I experienced my first big problem with the machine.
Out of nowhere the machine became extremely sluggish and would not even load the operating system after putting in my initial password. Even though I am extremely cautious I was worried that I became infected with some type of malware and that my machine was compromised. I could not even find out at first because the machine basically wouldn’t load so I had to resort to plan B starting it in safe mode.
I was able to get the machine to load via safe mode and then ran some security scans which did not pick up any signs of malicious behavior (I ran Microsoft Security Essentials and Spybot S&D). Like a good operational/security person I then checked my event logs and realized several patches went in recently so I lept to the conclusion that one of these patches must be responsible for the horrific state of my system. Time to do my first ever Windows 7 system restore on this machine.
The Windows 7 system restore functionality is a great way to rollback your machine to a previously known “good state”. System restore is marketed by Microsoft as a convenient way to undo system changes to your computer without affecting your personal files, such as e?mail, documents, or photos. Basically, a way to back out patches and other system level changes without losing your personal data.
I had configured my system to have many different restore points so the key question for me was which restore point to revert back to. At first I tried the nearest restore point one day out with no success, the machine was still unusable. After spending about an hour experimenting I decided to rollback 3 days and got a workable stable version of my system going again. Even after the OS was stable again my Firefox browser never regained stability so I had to uninstall and then reinstall it to get it working effectively again.
Total time spent troubleshooting my problem ~ 1.45 min
Probable root cause – Microsoft or firefox related patch (I did not isolate the exact source only going by details of required rollback mentioned above)
Summary of actions taken for my Windows 7 system restore
1. Utilized Windows 7 system restore functionality by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore (make sure you set frequent restore points so you have this available to you)
2. You may need to experiment with your restore back date until you find the point where your system is again stable.
3. Restore your system to that point and run your antivirus scan and Spybot Search & Destroy to validate that a security compromise did not cause your problem.
It takes some effort but you can do this yourself and save yourself some money if this happens to you.