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The Windows (Vista) documentation and available online info is comprehensively vague. If I have a moderately brain dead system and want to restore it, and I have a "Backup and Restore Center" backup whose "delta" is not quite a week old (but with a "full backup" behind it), what steps do I go through to recover my box back to that backup point?

It's totally unclear whether simply doing "restore all" from the (advanced) "Center" is sufficient, or do I need to first take the box back to day zero with the system restore DVD, et al?

(Just editing this to get my correct ID associated with it.)

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Kez, BBlake, Nifle, Simon Sheehan Sep 18 '12 at 20:27

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Well, apparently with my Sony Vaio you have to press F12 during boot to get it to boot the Vaio-specific recovery stuff. Just inserting the first DVD and booting brings up a different version of the recovery menus that perversely doesn't recognize the DVDs as valid. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 15 '12 at 19:20
And there's a rumor that if one catches the F12 menu before it times out it can be made to boot from the recovery partition on the hard drive. I was not in the room at the right time for that, apparently. (The F12 menu spins it's wheels for awhile before giving you any options -- if it ever does.) – Daniel R Hicks Sep 15 '12 at 19:22
The restore process is a little worrying, because after it reformats the partition it rapidly reads all 3 DVDs, while "progress" is only 25% or so. You're wondering if it's going to ask for disk 4. But once it's read in the DVDs (probably several large CAB files) the progress indicator starts moving along. The physical restore is fairly fast (maybe 20 minutes) but then it reboots, and the post-reboot process takes awhile (still going on). – Daniel R Hicks Sep 15 '12 at 20:44
Well, at least an hour of churning to come up to the "set your user ID" screen, then maybe 15 minutes of alternating churn and punching buttons. Now I've started Windows Update -- no telling how long that will take, given that the image is pre-service-pack-2. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 15 '12 at 22:21
123 updates to install -- I'm guessing it will reboot several times. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 15 '12 at 22:24