System Restore is an option in Windows based operating systems which allows rolling back some system files, registry settings and applications to a formerly saved system state. System Restore only allows creating and restoring the system state and does not allow extracting individual files.
System Restore Explorer is a tool which allows you to browse available System Restore points on your computer and provides the option to select system restore points to extract files from them. While browsing system restore points, you can also delete unwanted restore points to free up hard disk space.
When System Restore Explorer is launched, you are shown all the available system restore points. You can mount a restore point (to extract files) or delete it from the buttons at the bottom or via right-click menu.
If you select the mount option for a restore point, it is saved as a folder shortcut and displayed in a new window which automatically pops-up. You can copy files from this folder to obtain your old files. Once your are done extracting your data, you can optionally delete the shortcut. Deleting the shortcut does not remove the system restore point. Extracting files in this manner can be immensely convenient and can save you from having to perform a complete system restore which can end up altering your system unnecessarily. For example, you may require restoring the system state to restore your registry settings but also might have to deal with some uninstalled programs which might show up after system restore.
System Restore Explorer uses AlphaVSS, .NET Library which allows access to the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service. This service is meant to allow creation of volume backups even when programs are writing data to them. System Restore Explorer works on newer Windows version such Windows Vista and Windows 7.