On the safe mode note I have heard that a few times, but never had a single problem myself. The trick is to start pressing F8 repeatedly while the computer is in the final stage of the BIOS POST, and then you are guaranteed to be pressing F8 at the right moment when needed.
A lot of people are under the impression they are only allowed to press F8 once and so inevitably fail lots of times.
The problem with system restore is that, as you know, it is designed to leave files and settings as they are but restore system and program files, so you can cause inconsistencies by using it.
After that experience, I'd be uninstalling McAfee right now!
Zen 8000 Pro