Automated system recovery (ASR) is a feature of the Windows XP operating system that can be used to simplify recovery of a computer’s system or boot volumes. ASR consists of two parts: an automated backup, and an automated restore. The backup portion can be accessed in the Backup utility under System Tools.
ASR does not back up user files or other data, only data necessary for restoring the system configuration state. Other backup systems should be put in place to ensure user’s actual data files are also backed up. In the event of a failure, an ASR restore is performed first, which allows user files to then be recovered.
ASR should be used only as a last resort because in preparation for a restore ASR will format the system and boot volumes, making other, less-drastic recovery methods impossible.