Computer Guide

How much System Restore do I need?

by George Skarbek -17 April 2007

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Q: In Windows XP, System Restore allocates 12% of the available disk space for maintaining the Restore System backups. With the large capacity drives now available, is this 12% an excessive volume to allocate.  What would you recommend as a practical amount of disk space?

This is a good question and I agree that 12% is certainly excessive as many of the system restore points are quite small and can be less than 1 MB. Also when performing regular disk cleanups I remove all but the latest restore point as my system is very stable. This is to keep the backup image, which I automatically run daily, to a manageable size.

Even if you feel that you need to go back many restore points, 500 MB should be than adequate for many users however, but on some occasions as when installing a full version of Microsoft Office that one Restore Point can be many hundreds of MB. For a 250 GB drive set the setting of 1 or 2% depending on your desire to keep more free space or be able to roll back a longer period. To adjust this figure click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, System, System Restore and click on Settings. 

If you wish to see how much data is actually stored on your computer right-click on the System Volume Information folder as this is where Windows XP stores these points and data. If you cannot see this folder then from Windows Explorer click on Tools, Folder Options, View and click the button Show Hidden Files and Folders to make this hidden visible.

Another area where the Windows default setting is grossly excessive for new drives is the space for the Temporary Internet Files. I have performed several tests using dial-up and broadband and found that with approximately 10 MB or even less is more than adequate and there is no benefit in allocating more disk space in order to store hundreds of thousands of useless files on your hard disk. In many cases you may find the default setting is over 3 GB! This is altered in Internet Explorer 7 from Tools, Internet Options, Browsing History, Settings. I suggest after altering the setting that you delete the Temporary Internet Files.


Booting from a USB

Q: My new computer does not have a floppy drive. How can I make an emergency boot drive from a USB memory stick?

This can be done, but only if your BIOS supports booting from a USB drive. Most computers that are less then two years old should be capable. However, but this process is not for beginners. There are several sites that give instructions for this (it is too long for my column) but probably the best is from the authoritative site, Toms Hardware. See: for the 14 page detailed report. It gives more information than just making a bootable drive by listing many utility programs that can be used from that USB drive.

If you feel that this process it too daunting then as long as you have the original Windows CD, but not the recovery CD that some suppliers give you, then you can boot on that CD and repair or re-install Windows.

I want a Word file and not a picture

Q: I have an Epson Stylus Photo RX530 Copier/Scanner/Printer and I am unable to scan documents into Word as a Word Document so that I can edit them. Every document is saved in Picasa2 as a jpg and will only open in Adobe and as a consequence I cannot edit the document.

I am not aware of what software is supplied with that model scanner but the software that you need is some OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. The OCR software can convert these images into text that can then be edited in Word or other text Program. I am not sure if the Scan to PC software supplied with the RX530 has OCR capability but I suggest that you look at the menus and also at the CDs that were supplied with that printer.

If it does not posses this feature then you will have to purchase some OCR software. Most such software will operate the scanner directly but you should find out for low cost options. There are many good commercial programs such as Omnipage that will keep all the formatting, fonts and images in the Word document. For a considerable selection of lower cost shareware see:


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