How to Use System Restore on Windows 10

System Restore is a powerful feature. Here’s how to enable system restore, create a restore point, & restore Windows from a restore point.

When making changes to Windows, no matter how careful you are, there will be times when things go wrong. It can happen in any number of situations like when you make changes to Windows Registry, installed a new driver update, changed settings that you don’t know for sure, etc.

In those situations, System Restore can help you restore the Windows system to its know good state. When you create a system restore point, Windows will take something like a snapshot of the current working state and save it in case of an emergency. You can then use that restore point to restore the Windows system to its previous state.

If you think about it, you can save hours of reinstalling Windows and other software with just a few clicks. Not to mention the frustration of configuring all those software.

In this guide, I will be as thorough as possible and try to detail what system restore can and cannot do, how to enable system restore, create a system restore point, and restore Windows using system restore point.

So, to get you started, here is a detailed guide on using System Restore in Windows 10.

Jump to:

I’m showing the procedure on Windows 10, but the guide will work on Windows 7 and 8 too.

What System Restore Will and Will Not Do

Before getting started, you should know what System Restore will and will not do when you choose to restore your system. This gives you a better idea and judgment in creating and restoring system restore points.

System Restore will:

  • Uninstall programs that you’ve installed after creating a restore point. Same with Windows updates.
  • Install programs that are present when creating a restore point but uninstalled after creating a restore point. Same for Windows updates
  • Restore any all changes made to the system files including Registry and Group Policies.

System Restore will not:

  • Delete or restore your personal files. For instance, files in folders like Pictures, Downloads, Documents, etc., will not be touched by System Restore.
  • Remove or clean viruses or malware. Mostly any infections will be unaffected. Use a good anti-virus or malware program to get rid of them.
  • Restore or recover deleted data. System Restore is not a data recovery program. For that, you need to use a dedicated software that is designed to recover deleted files.

Now that’s out of the way, let us see how to use System Restore on Windows.

How to Enable System Restore on Windows 10

By default, System Restore is disabled in Windows. One of the obvious reasons for this is the amount of hard disk space needed to create and manage restore points. So, before you can use System Restore in Windows, you first need to enable system restore.

1. In the start menu, search for “View advanced system settings” and open it.

2. The above action will open the “System Properties” window. Here, navigate to “System Protection.” Select the C drive (system installation drive) and click on the “Configure” button.

Select C drive and click on the Configure button

3. In this window, select the option “Turn on system protection.” Use the slider under the “Disk Space Usage” section to assign the maximum space system restore can use. When you are sliding, Windows will show the actual space you are allotting in MBs or GBs. Click on the “Ok” and “Apply” buttons to save changes.

Tip: As a rule of thumb, assign 10% to 15% of your C drive space. This ensures that you will have multiple restore points to fall back. When there is no more space, Windows will automatically delete old restore points to create new ones.

Turn on system protection and use the slider to assign maximum space

That’s it; you’ve successfully enabled System Restore in Windows. In the future, if you think you no longer need the assistance of the System Restore feature, you can disable System Restore by selecting the radio option “Disable system protection.”

How to Create System Restore Point in Windows 10

Once you’ve enabled system restore, you can create a system restore point any time you want, like before editing Registry or changing Group Policy settings. Make a habit of creating a system restore point whenever you make a significant system change, install, or uninstall software.

After all, as someone already said, it is better safe than sorry.

1. To create a system restore point, search for “create a restore point” in the start menu and open it.

Search for create a restore point in start menu

2. In the System Properties window, select C drive under “Protection Settings” and then click on the “Create” button.

Click on the Create button

3. You will be prompted to describe the system restore point you are about to create. Give a meaningful description and click on the “Create” button.

Enter a meaningful restore point description

4. That’s it; Windows will start the process of creating a system restore point.

Windows is creating system restore point

5. Once Windows is done, it will let you know the same. Click on the “Close” button, and you are done.

Windows successfully created a system restore point

How to Restore Windows 10 Using System Restore

Just as you can easily create a system restore point as and when needed, you can quickly restore Windows when you think your system is not working as it should or revert the changes you just made.

There are two ways to restore the Windows system.

The first one is useful when you can boot into your Windows machine.

The second one is useful when you cannot boot into the Windows machine. For instance, when you mess up a Registry entry or some other important system files, your actions might corrupt Windows, which in turn prevents you from booting into Windows. In those situations, follow this second method.

I will show both ways. Follow the one you think meets your current need.

Restore Windows When You Can Boot into Windows 10

When you can boot into Windows, it is straightforward to restore Windows using a system restore point.

1. To start, search for “Create a restore point” and open it.

Search for create a restore point in start menu

2. Now, click on the “System Restore” button.

Click on the System Restore button

3. Here, click “Next.”

Within Windows, click Next in System Restore window

4. From the list, select a restore point depending on your need and click “Next.”

Tip: By clicking on the “Scan for affected programs,” you can see any programs and drivers that are affected by the system restore you are about to perform.

Within Windows, select a restore point and click next

5. Finally, click “Finish.” You might receive a warning message; click “Yes” to continue.

Within Windows, click on the finish button

Depending on your system, it can take a few minutes to complete the system restore. So, sit back and wait until the procedure is complete.

Restore Procedure When You Cannot Boot into Windows 10

When you cannot boot into Windows, you cannot follow the above procedure. In those situations, you can use the Advanced System Settings to restore Windows. Follow the below process, and you should be good.

1. First off, try to start your system. It will fail to boot. When it happens three times, Windows will show you the advanced settings screen. Here, click on the “Troubleshoot” option.

Note: If you cannot see the advanced options then plug in Windows 10 bootable media like USB and select “Repair” on the installation screen.

Select Troubleshoot option

2. Next, choose “Advanced Options.”

Select Advanced Options

3. From advanced options, choose “System Restore.”

Select System Restore in Advanced Options

4. For security reasons, windows will ask you to choose your account. So, select your account.

Select your user account

5. In the next screen, enter the user account password and click on the “Continue” button.

Enter user account password and click Continue

6. In this Windows, click “Next.”

Advanced options - Click Next

7. Now, select the restore point and click “Next.”

Advanced options - Select Restore Point

8. Click on the “Finish” button. You might receive a warning message; simply click “Yes” to continue.

Advanced options - Click Finish

If everything goes well, your system will be restored within a few minutes.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, enabling and creating a system restore in Windows is very simple and easy. Not only creating but restoring is also pretty easy. So, as I said earlier, before making any significant changes like editing the registry, changing group policy settings, installing or uninstalling drivers and programs, make a habit of creating a system restore point. It just takes a couple of minutes.

In the unlikely event, it might save you a few hours’ worth of work and frustration when gettings started from scratch.

Then again, keep in mind the limitations of System Restore. Also, System Restore is an alternative to a proper and full system backup. For better protection, create a full system backup.

I hope that helps. Comment below, sharing your thoughts and experiences about the System Restore feature in Windows.

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