Perform a System Restore Rollback Offline on a non-bootable Windows XP computer


Has your Windows XP system become unbootable after making some configuration changes, and you want to perform a System Restore rollback to a previous date? Windows Vista has the Startup Repair feature using which you can restore the system to an earlier restore point. But no such feature exists in Windows XP. After searching around the internet, I came across a great tool to recover Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 PCs.

Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset

Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (MSDaRT) from Microsoft provides powerful tools to help administrators recover PCs that have become unusable, and easily identify root causes of system issues. This toolset is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

30 day evaluation of MSDaRT is available from the following link:

Download details: Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (MSDaRT50Eval.msi – 64.2 MB)

Microsoft DaRT includes the following tools:

  1. Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) Commander
  2. ERD Commander Boot Media Wizard
  3. ERD Help
  4. Chkdsk
  5. Command Line
  6. ERD Explorer
  7. File Search
  8. Notepad
  9. Unzip
  10. Windows Shell
  11. Crash Analyzer Wizard
  12. Disk Commander Wizard
  13. Disk Wipe
  14. ERD Registry Editor
  15. ERD System Restore Wizard
  16. File Restore
  17. Hotfix Uninstall Wizard
  18. Locksmith Wizard
  19. Solution Wizard
  20. System File Repair Wizard
  21. Autoruns
  22. Disk Management
  23. Event Viewer
  24. Services and Drivers
  25. System Information
  26. File Sharing
  27. Map Network Drive
  28. TCP/IP Configuration

The ERD System Restore Wizard can be used to restore a system that cannot be started to a previous restore point.

Note: All of the utilities provided with ERD Commander, except ERD System Restore Wizard, are compatible with Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. ERD System Restore Wizard is compatible only with Windows XP. Do not use the ERD Commander Boot CD in Windows Vista systems.

Limitations of ERD System Restore Wizard:  [Quoted from MSDaRT Release Notes] The ERD System Restore Wizard does not perform a complete System Restore operation as the Windows System Restore of Windows XP SP2. The ERD System Restore Wizard does NOT restore the following information:

  • ACL changes on files and folders support
  • SAM Password hashes
  • Attribute changes
  • Alternate data streams

Therefore, once the Windows XP SP2 system is back online, it is recommended that you execute a Windows System Restore from a restore point of your choice. The ERD System Restore Wizard should be used to perform the bare minimum of actions that will enable a Windows XP system to start.

Note that the ERD System Restore Wizard is only supported on Windows XP SP2. Windows Server 2003 does not implement the Windows System Restore.

Editor’s note: ERD System Restore Wizard worked just fine when used in a Windows XP SP3 system.

System Restore rollback using ERD Commander

Using another computer, create a Boot CD for ERD Commander. Follow these steps:

1. Download and install MSDaRT

2. Read the MSDaRT CHM Help file, Release Notes (recommended) and the License agreement. The help file and release notes are available in the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset folder under the Program Files folder.

3. If you don’t already have a third-party CD Recording software to burn ISO image to CD, then download the free ISO Recorder PowerToy.

4. After installing the ISO Recorder PowerToy, open the following folder

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset

5. Right-click the file erd50.iso and click Copy image to CD

6. Follow the onscreen instructions and burn the ISO to a CD. This is the ERD Commander Boot CD

7. Insert the ERD Commander Boot CD into the drive and restart the system

8. Boot the computer using ERD Commander Boot CD. You may have to set the boot order in the BIOS first.

9. From the ERD Commander menu (Start menu) that is displayed, click System Tools, and then click System Restore.

10. Click Next when you see the Welcome to the ERD System Restore Wizard screen

11. Select Roll back to an existing restore point created by Windows. ERD System Restore Wizard only performs a partial rollback. (For more information, see paragraph "Limitations of ERD System Restore Wizard" above.)

12. Select the date, and pick a Restore Point from the list.

13. Click Yes to perform System Restore rollback.

14. To view the change log (optional), click the View Details button. This opens a log file using Notepad, which contains the list of changes made to the registry and the file system. To close the dialog, click Finish. The system will restart to complete the System Restore rollback operation.

More Information

When creating the ERD Commander Boot CD, you can add additional files (such as Scripts, stand-alone executables etc). For more information about this option, and to learn about other great tools included in ERD Commander, read the MSDaRT Help (.chm) file. Another excellent tool in this suite is the Crash Analyzer Wizard, using which you can debug crash dump files.

See also

How to edit the registry offline using BartPE boot CD?


About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

3 thoughts on “Perform a System Restore Rollback Offline on a non-bootable Windows XP computer”

  1. Your post saved PC that i use in the shop. I made some registry changes and the PC got stuck in the login logout loop.But i had created restore point prior to making changes so using ur method i restored back my PC. Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset is not available for download to average user. I had to download it from elsewhere. But your method work.
    thanks a ton

  2. If you are looking for a working link to download ERD Commander for Wix XP try There’s a link to the download of the 30 day trial version, and instructions for unlocking the trial version with a tool included in the trial version download package. There is also some good info about ERD Commander 2010

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