How to Use System Restore in Windows (2023)

The System Restore tool in Windows is one of the more helpful utilities available to you and is usually a great first step when you're trying to fix a major problem in Windows.

In a nutshell, what the Windows System Restore tool lets you do is revert to a previous software, registry, and driver configuration called a restore point. It's like "undoing" the last major change to Windows, taking your computer back to the way it was when the restore point was created.

Since a majority of Windows problems involve issues with at least one of those aspects of your operating system, System Restore is a great tool to use early in the troubleshooting process. It also helps that it's really simple to do.

Using the System Restore tool to undo/reverse changes in Windows usually takes anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, at least in most cases. Follow these easy steps to return Windows to a previous, hopefully working, state using System Restore:

How you access System Restore differs between Windows versions. Below are three separate procedures: one for Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, one for Windows 7 or Windows Vista, and one for Windows XP. See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 11, 10, 8, or 8.1

  1. Open Control Panel. Check out that linked how-to if this is your first time, or just search for it from the Windows search box or the Windows 8/8.1 Charms Bar.

    We're trying to get to the System applet in Control Panel, which can be done very quickly from the Power User Menu but it's only faster that way if you're using a keyboard or mouse. Press WIN+X or right-click the Start button and then choose System. Skip to Step 4 if you end up going this way.

  2. Select System and Security within Control Panel.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (1)

    You won't see System and Security if your Control Panel view is set to either Large icons or Small icons. Instead, choose System and then skip to Step 4.

  3. In the System and Security window that's now open, select System.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (2)

  4. Choose System protection.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (3)

  5. From the System Properties window that appears, press System Restore. If you don't see it, make sure you're on the System Protection tab.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (4)

  6. Select Next > from the System Restore window titled Restore system files and settings.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (5)

    (Video) How to use System Restore to fix your Windows 10 computer

    If you've previously performed a System Restore, you may see both an Undo System Restore option and a Choose a different restore point option. If so, select Choose a different restore point, assuming you're not here to undo one.

  7. Select the restore point you want to use from those in the list.​

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (6)

    If you'd like to see older restore points, check the Show more restore points checkbox.​

    All restore points that are still in Windows will be listed here, so long as that checkbox is checked. Unfortunately, there is no way to "restore" older restore points. The oldest restore point listed is the furthest back you can possibly restore Windows to.

  8. With your chosen restore point selected, use the Next > button to proceed.

  9. Confirm the restore point you want to use on the Confirm your restore point window and then select Finish.​

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (7)

    If you're curious as to what programs, drivers, and other parts of Windows 11/10/8/8.1 this System Restore will impact on your computer, select the Scan for affected programs link on this page prior to starting the System Restore. The report is informational only, but might be helpful in your troubleshooting if this System Restore doesn't fix whatever problem you're trying to solve.

  10. Choose Yes to the Once started, System Restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue? question.​

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (8)

    If you're running System Restore from Safe Mode, please know that the changes it makes to your computer will not be reversible. Don't let this scare you away—chances are, if you're doing a System Restore from here, it's because Windows isn't starting properly, leaving you with few other options. Still, it's something you should be aware of.​

    Your computer will restart as part of a System Restore, so be sure to close anything you might have running right now.

  11. System Restore will now begin reverting Windows to the state it was in at the date and time logged with the restore point that you chose in Step 7.

    You'll see a small System Restore window that says Preparing to restore your system..., after which Windows will almost completely shut down.

  12. Next, on an empty screen, you'll see a Please wait while your Windows files and settings are being restored message.

    You'll also see various messages appear underneath like System Restore is initializing..., System Restore is restoring the registry..., and System Restore is removing temporary files.... All in all, this will probably take around 15 minutes.​

    (Video) System Restore In Windows 10 COMPLETE Tutorial

    What you're sitting through here is the actual System Restore process. Do not turn off or restart your computer during this time!

  13. Wait while your computer restarts.

  14. Sign in to Windows as you normally do. If you don't use the Desktop and aren't switched there automatically, go there next.

  15. On the Desktop, you should see a small System Restore window that says "System Restore completed successfully. The system has been restored to [date time]. Your documents have not been affected."

  16. Select Close.

Now that the System Restore is complete, check to see that whatever issue you were trying to fix is actually corrected.

If System Restore did not correct the problem, you can either a) repeat the steps above, choosing an even older restore point, assuming one is available, or b) continue troubleshooting the problem.

If this System Restore caused an additional problem, you can undo it, assuming it wasn't completed from Safe Mode (see the Important call-out in Step 10). To undo a System Restore in Windows, repeat steps 1 through 6 above and choose Undo System Restore.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 7 or Windows Vista

  1. Navigate to the Start >All Programs >Accessories >System Tools program group.

  2. Select System Restore.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (9)

  3. Press Next > on the Restore system files and settings window that should have appeared on the screen.​

    If you have two options on this screen, Recommended restore and Choose a different restore point, select Choose a different restore point before selecting Next > unless you're absolutely sure that the preselected restore point is the one you want to use.

  4. Choose the restore point that you want to use. Ideally, you'd want to choose the one just prior to noticing the problem you're trying to undo, but not any further back. Any restore points that you manually created, scheduled restore points that Windows automatically created, and any created automatically during the installation of certain programs will be listed here. You can not use System Restore to undo Windows changes to a date that a restore point does not exist for.​

    If you need to, check the Show more restore points or Show restore points older than 5 days checkbox to see more than the most recent restore points. There's no guarantee there are any but it's worth looking if you need to go back that far.

  5. Select Next >.

  6. Press Finish on the Confirm your restore point window to begin the System Restore.​

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (10)

    Windows will shut down to complete the System Restore, so be sure to save any work you might have open in other programs before continuing.

  7. Select Yes to the Once started, System Restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue? dialog box.

    (Video) How to System Restore in Windows 10

  8. System Restore will now restore Windows to the state that was recorded in the restore point you chose in Step 4.​

    The System Restore process could take several minutes as you see the "Please wait while your Windows files and settings are being restored" message. Your computer will then reboot as normal when complete.

  9. Immediately after logging into Windows after the reboot, you should see a message that System Restore completed successfully. Select Close.

Check to see if whatever Windows 7 or Windows Vista problem you were troubleshooting has been corrected by this System Restore. If the problem still persists, you can repeat the steps above and choose another restore point if one is available. If this restoration caused a problem, you can always undo this particular System Restore.

How to Use System Restore in Windows XP

  1. Make your way to Start >All Programs >Accessories >System Tools.

  2. Select System Restore.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (11)

  3. Choose to Restore my computer to an earlier time and then select Next >.

  4. Choose an available date on the calendar on the left.​

    Available dates are those when a restore point was created and are shown in bold. You can not use System Restore to undo Windows XP changes to a date that a restore point does not exist.

  5. Now that a date is chosen, choose a specific restore point from the list on the right.

    How to Use System Restore in Windows (12)

  6. Press Next >.

  7. Select Next > on the Confirm Restore Point Selection window you see now.​

    Windows XP will shut down as part of the System Restore process. Be sure to save any files you have open before continuing.

  8. System Restore will now restore Windows XP with the registry, driver, and other important files as they existed when the restore point you chose in Step 5 was created. This could take several minutes.

  9. After the restart is complete, log in as you normally do. Assuming everything went as planned, you should see a Restoration Complete window, which you can can select Close on.

You can now check to see if the System Restore fixed whatever Windows XP issue you were trying to fix. If not, you can always try an earlier restore point, if you have one. If the System Restore made things worse, you can always undo it.

More About System Restore & Restore Points

The Windows System Restore utility will not in any way affect your non-system files like documents, music, video, emails, etc. If you were hoping that Windows System Restore would, in fact, restore or "undelete" any deleted non-system files, try a file recovery program instead.

Restore points don't usually need to be created manually. Assuming System Restore is enabled and working properly, Windows, as well as other programs, should regularly create restore points at critical junctures like prior to a patch being applied, before a new program is installed, etc.

See What Is a Restore Point? for a greater discussion on restore points and how they work.

(Video) Windows 10 - How to Create a System Restore Point

System Restore can also be started in any version of Windows by executing rstrui.exe, which might be helpful in certain situations, like when you need to run it from Safe Mode or another limited-access situation.

See How to Start System Restore From the Command Prompt if you need help doing that.

FAQ

  • What happens if I interrupt a Windows 10 System Restore?

    Since System Restore performs crucial internal steps, if you interrupt the process, critical system files or the registry backup restoration may be incomplete. The system may become unbootable if the registry files weren't properly restored.

  • How do I create a system restore point?

    To manually create a System Restore Point, search for and select Create a restore point from the search box. In System Properties, select the System Protectiontab and select Create. Enter a description for the Restore Point and select Create > OK.

  • How do I start a System Restore from the command prompt?

    Open Command Prompt and type rstrui.exe in the Command Prompt window. The System Restore wizard will open. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the System Restore.

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(Video) SYSTEM RESTORE WINDOWS 10: Restore your PC to an earlier time and date

FAQs

How do I do a full System Restore on Windows? ›

In the Control Panel search box, type recovery. Select Recovery > Open System Restore. In the Restore system files and settings box, select Next. Select the restore point that you want to use in the list of results, and then select Scan for affected programs.

How do I use System Restore files? ›

Search Control Panel for Recovery, and select Recovery > Open System Restore > Next. Choose the restore point related to the problematic app, driver, or update, and then select Next > Finish.

Does System Restore restore everything? ›

It repairs the Windows environment by reverting back to the files and settings that were saved in the restore point. Note: It does not affect your personal data files on the computer.

Why did System Restore not complete successfully? ›

In most cases, the System Restore failed and did not complete successfully error appears because your Antivirus software is interfering with System Restore. So, if you're running antivirus software, disable it.

How long does a full System Restore take? ›

It usually takes 30 to 45 minutes for the process to complete. If it takes more than the given time frame, refer to the solutions below to fasten the System Restore process.

How do I do a System Restore clean? ›

Tips. Now launch this utility and click More Options tab. Under which click System Restore and followed by that click Clean Up tab a message will popup -Are you sure you want to delete all but the most recent restore point? Click Yes then OK.

What files does System Restore restore? ›

Again, System Restore will not recover personal files — it will undelete files that are directly relevant to the Windows system.

What happens when System Restore is done? ›

System Restore allows the user to revert the state of their computer to an earlier time. System files, installed applications, the Windows registry, and other related system settings are all reverted to the state they were in when the snapshot was taken.

How many times can you use System Restore? ›

2. There is no limit to the number of times you can reinstall Windows. You can do it as often as you want to or need to.

Does System Restore fix boot problems? ›

System Restore is a utility that allows you to return to a previous Restore Point when your computer was working normally. It can remedy boot problems caused by a change you made rather than a hardware failure.

Is it good to restore your computer? ›

Resetting your PC lets you perform a clean reinstallation and update of Windows while keeping your personal data and most Windows settings intact. In some cases, a clean installation may improve your device's performance, security, browsing experience, and battery life.

Can System Restore take 3 hours? ›

A system restore can take over 3 hours and restore your PC.

How far back will System Restore go? ›

System Restore generally creates restore points before installing new software or updates, but there is no guarantee that it will do so. System Restore saves between one and three weeks' worth of past restore points.

How do you know if Windows 10 System Restore is stuck? ›

If it is only flashing every 5-10 seconds then it is stuck. I would recommend fully powering off the machine. Then get back into recovery. To do this boot up and wait for the blue windows screen with the spinning circle, when you see that press and hold power button to shut down.

Can I leave System Restore overnight? ›

I would let it run, overnight if necessary, because interrupting it is risky. If by morning it hasn't resolved then press and hold the power button until power shuts off. Wait a half hour then power back on to see what happens. If it rolls back or proceeds then take stock of performance to make sure it's good.

Does a full System Restore remove viruses? ›

No, since some malware can hide in files that System Restore does not modify.

Does System Restore remove viruses? ›

System restore really won't help you at all for a virus. It can help with other types of malware though. Malware other than viruses, like spyware or adware, can sometimes be -not removed- by system restore, but stopped from working via a system restore. (if the malware left the system restore intact).

How do I clean up system processes? ›

How to clean up your PC and hard disk
  1. Perform a disk cleanup. ...
  2. Use a specialized cleanup app. ...
  3. Delete huge files to free up space on your hard drive. ...
  4. Uninstall applications you don't need. ...
  5. Use CHKDSK to test your hard drive's integrity and health. ...
  6. Use cloud or external storage if you're running out of local space.
Oct 31, 2022

How do I restore my whole computer and delete everything? ›

  1. Type and search [Reset this PC] in the Windows search bar①, then click [Open]②.
  2. Click [Get started]③ in Reset this PC section.
  3. Select [Remove everything]④.
  4. Click [Change settings]⑤.
  5. Based on your request, select the appropriate settings⑥, then click [Confirm]⑦.
  6. Confirm the settings, then click [Next]⑧.
Nov 16, 2022

Will Windows System Restore bring back deleted files? ›

If you can't find a file on your computer or you accidently modified or deleted a file, you can restore it from a backup (if you're using Windows backup) or you can try to restore it from a previous version. Previous versions are copies of files and folders that Windows automatically saves as part of a restore point.

Does restore data delete everything? ›

While data stored in your Google Account can be restored, all apps and their data will be uninstalled.

Is Windows System Restore Good? ›

Is System Restore bad for your computer? No. As long as you have a well-defined restore point on your PC, System Restore can never affect your computer.

How much time does it take to restore Windows 10? ›

It takes around 25 – 30 minutes. Also, an additional 10 – 15 minutes of system restore time are required for going through the final setup.

What is the max System Restore usage? ›

“System Restore might use between three and five percent of the space on each disk. As the amount of space fills up with restore points, it deletes older restore points to make room for new ones. System Restore doesn't run on disks smaller than 1 gigabyte (GB).

Can System Restore take hours? ›

System Restore is probably stuck if it hasn't advanced after four hours. The usual times when this occurs are during setup or registry restoration. Fortunately, you can frequently resolve this problem by performing System Restore in safe mode or using startup repair.

How do I fix a corrupted boot Windows 10? ›

Method 1: Startup repair tool
  1. Start the system to the installation media for the installed version of Windows. ...
  2. On the Install Windows screen, select Next > Repair your computer.
  3. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot.
  4. On the Advanced options screen, select Startup Repair.
Sep 2, 2022

How do I fix a corrupted boot file? ›

Next, follow these steps:
  1. Insert your installation media into the computer.
  2. Boot to the media. ...
  3. Click Next on the Windows Setup menu.
  4. Click "Repair your computer."
  5. Choose Troubleshoot.
  6. Select "Advanced options."
  7. Pick "Command Prompt."
  8. Type Bootrec /fixmbr and press the enter key.
May 23, 2022

What causes a computer not to boot up? ›

A defective motherboard, video card, or piece of RAM could cause Windows not to boot properly. To test for hardware issues, you can create and use an Ultimate Boot CD, which contains a collection of troubleshooting utilities to try and identify and sometimes fix hardware problems.

What are the disadvantages of System Restore? ›

  • Even though an advantage, it is also a disadvantage. Will not be able to affect personal files meaning deleted files will not be restored or any changes to personal files will not be restored which is also somewhat good but also bad.
  • You need to re-install programs after the restore point.
  • And obviously, its long.

Is it better to reset Windows or reinstall? ›

In summary, Windows 10 Reset is more likely to be a basic troubleshooting method, while a Clean Install is an advanced solution for more complex problems. If you don't know which method to apply, first have a try on Windows Reset, if it doesn't help, fully backup your computer data, and then perform a Clean Install.

Should I restore or reset my PC? ›

If you're having problems with your PC, you can:
  1. Refresh your PC to reinstall Windows and keep your personal files and settings. ...
  2. Reset your PC to reinstall Windows but delete your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.
  3. Restore your PC to undo recent system changes you've made.

Why is Windows 10 System Restore taking so long? ›

If you find your computer is taking longer than expected to restore your files, , it may be due to corrupted files. On Windows, you have a command called SFC that allows you to fix the corrupt files on your system. You can use it from the Command Prompt to fix all the corrupt files on your computer.

How long should System Restore be initializing? ›

Usually, the operation would complete within 20-45 minutes based on the system size but certainly not a few hours. System Restore is initializing".

How do you do a full wipe and reinstall of Windows 10? ›

You can choose to preserve just your personal files or to erase everything, depending on what you need. Go to Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery, click Get started and select the appropriate option. Then follow the on-screen instructions to restore Windows 10 to a factory fresh state.

Which F key do I press for System Restore? ›

If you can't successfully boot into Windows, however, you can still access System Restore -- and other repair options -- by pressing F8 when starting the computer.

How do I get to System Restore from boot Windows 10? ›

How to access System Restore from the Advanced Boot Menu
  1. Under 'Advanced startup', click the 'Restart now' button.
  2. Click Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> System Restore. This will reboot and bring you to the System Restore menu.
Aug 23, 2022

How do I completely format and reinstall Windows? ›

  1. Reset Windows 10. In Windows 10, click the Start menu and select the gear icon in the lower left to open up the Settings window. ...
  2. Reset Windows 11. ...
  3. Choose What to Erase. ...
  4. Reinstall Options. ...
  5. Customize Additional Settings.

Does clean install delete all files? ›

With a clean install, the hard disk contains only the new OS. Any existing OS and user files are removed during installation because the hard disk is formatted and completely erased.

What does Remove everything and reinstall Windows do? ›

This is the most thorough reset (or recovery/reinstall/refresh) option as it replaces the current Windows configuration with a new one. All the contents will be removed, such as accounts, files, settings, ASUS customized software and apps downloaded from Windows Store.

Does F11 reset your computer? ›

Answer: Generally, the F11 key is used in Windows to enter the factory reset mode, whereas we can also use F12 in some systems.

What does pressing F10 do? ›

F10. In most Microsoft Windows programs, by default, F10 activates the menu bar or Ribbon of an open application. Shift + F10 is the same as right-clicking a highlighted icon, file, or Internet link. Access the hidden recovery partition on Compaq, HP, and Sony computers.

What does F11 System Restore do? ›

F11 is a special key set by HP, Dell, or Lenovo computer manufacturer to recover system to computer default settings when your computer (PCs, notebooks, desktops) corrupted due to hardware or software failure.

How do I run System Restore or Startup Repair? ›

  1. Open the Settings app. ...
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Select the Recovery tab.
  4. Under Advanced Startup, click Restart Now.
  5. After the computer reboots, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Repair.
  6. After the startup repair process is complete, reboot the computer.
Jan 3, 2022

Can you do a System Restore in BIOS? ›

Enter the BIOS by tapping either the right or left bottom of the screen. Tap Advanced, and then tap Special Configuration. Tap Factory Recovery. Select Enabled from drop-down menu.

How do I use Windows System Restore from Command Prompt? ›

Press the Windows key, enter Windows File Recovery in the search box, and then select Windows File Recovery. When you are prompted to allow the app to make changes to your device, select Yes. There are 2 basic modes you can use to recover files: Regular and Extensive.

Can Trojan virus be removed by factory reset? ›

Running a factory reset on a computer is an effective way to clear out a persistent virus or other malware you can't otherwise remove.

Can system restore remove ransomware? ›

System Restores Are not the Best Strategy for Dealing with Ransomware and Malware. You might be tempted to use a System Restore point to get your system back up and running. System Restore is not a good solution for removing viruses or other malware.

Will a factory reset remove spyware? ›

A factory reset will delete everything on your phone, including the spyware. Make sure you have a backup of your phone before you do this to prevent losing your photos, apps, and other data. You'll need to restore your phone to a backup from before you started experiencing the spyware issues.

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