Concerning System Restore:
It’s worth noting that system restore can only restore a few things. It’s my understanding that it mainly monitors system files. It certainly doesn’t monitor the entire partition. Basically, if you install something and it garbles up your system files and/or registry settings, system restore may be able to return things to a more stable condition. However, it may also leave random files in other locations on your hard disk. It also can’t be used to undo many common kinds of errors. For instance, it’s not an undeleter. If you wipe something or corrupt a data file, etc. restoring to a point in time before you did so may not actually repair your problem.
Enter imaging software like ghost, drive image, boot it, and others: These programs take perfect snapshots of your entire system that you can store on a secondary partition, another hard drive, or burn to CD/DVD. When restoring to one of those images, your system is returned to the EXACT state that it was in when you made the image. Anything you deleted is back. Anything you added since then is gone. Every byte on the harddrive is replaced where it came from.
Incidently, because if this, you may want to defrag, and do any other routine system clean up before you make your image so that when you restore your image it’s exactly where you want it.