System Restore helps you restore your computer’s system files to an earlier point in time. It’s a good way to undo system changes to your computer without affecting your personal files and is best used if a failed program or driver installation causes Windows to crash/produce errors.
System restore points are created automatically by Windows and they contain valuable information about registry settings and other system information that Windows uses. However, you can’t just browse an individual restore point and extract files stored in it. Likewise, you can’t delete an individual restore point – you must delete all of them (or all except the last one).
System Restore Explorer is a tiny free program which solves both those issues. From the developer’s website: “System Restore Explorer is a tool which allows you to browse system restore points on your computer and select individual ones for deletion should you wish to free up some disk space. It also allows you to mount the contents of a restore point into a folder so that you can browse and copy individual files, without the need to perform a full system restore.”
When the program is started, you will see a list of your current system restore points. You can mount a restore point (to extract files) or delete it from the buttons at the bottom or by right clicking on the selected restore point as shown in the screenshot below:
Extracting individual files can be useful if you don’t want to do a full system restore – or if system restore is not working (if just one restore point becomes corrupted, system restore will usually fail on every restore point).
Simple instructions for use and link to download the program are given on the developer’s website here.
Note: the program only works with Vista and Windows 7, not XP.