System Restore in Windows 10, 8, and 7

How to use System Restore in Windows 10, 8, 7

System Restore in Windows 10, 8, and 7

Windows System Restore allows you to ‘rewind’ your Windows installation to an earlier working state, without affecting your documents. When enabled, Windows can automatically saves Restore Points when something significant happens, such as installing a Windows Update or a new program. The concept is that if it goes wrong, you can return to the last Restore Point (or any earlier one) to move back time and get things performing as they were previously. Restoring your computer to a previous state only affects Windows files - such as drivers, registry keys, system files, and installed programs. It does NOT affect your data - such as document files, email, pictures, music, etc.

As System Restore does not restore any personal (user) files, it is not meant as backup solution for your data. See this page on creating your data backups. System Restore is a "system backup" solution as it does, in fact, backup and restore (only) crucial system files.

Reminder: By default, System Restore is disabled in Windows 10, so read on to enable this feature within Windows 10

Introduction to using System Restore in Windows 10, 8, or 7

First, make sure System Restore is enabled for your computer!

If you want to be protected by System Restore, you should absolutely turn it on for at least your system drive. In most cases, that’s all you need, since all the things System Restore protects tend to be located on the system drive anyway. If you want to turn on System Restore protection for other drives–say, for example, you install some programs to a different drive–you can do that too.

To make sure System Restore is turned on–and to enable it for specific drives–hit Start, type “restore,” and then click “Create a restore point.” That action does not actually create a restore point; it just opens the dialog where you can get to all the System Restore options.

Windows 10 Create a Restore Point

On the “System Protection” tab, in the “Protection Settings” section, you’ll see the available drives on your PC and whether protection is enabled for each drive. To turn on protection, select a drive on the list and click the “Configure” button.

(1): Open Control Panel. Often easier to find the control panel  by searching for it from the Windows 10 Cortana / Search box or the Windows 8/8.1 Charms Bar.

Windows Control Panel
(2): Tap or click on System and Security within Control Panel.

Note: You won't see System and Security if your Control Panel view is set to either Large icons or Small icons. Instead, find System, tap or click on it, then skip to Step 4.
(3): In the System and Security window that's now open, click or tap System.

Windows 10 Control Panel > System and Security > System

(4): On the left, click or tap the System protection link.

(5): From the System Properties window that appears, tap or click the System Restore... button. If you don't see it, make sure you're on the System Protection tab.

Windows Control Panel > System > System Protection > System Restore
(6): Tap or click Next > from the System Restore window titled Restore system files and settings.

Restore system files and settings > Choose a different restore point

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

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

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

Show More Restore Points option

Important: 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.

  With your chosen restore point selected, tap or click the Next > button.
  Confirm the restore point you want to use on the Confirm your restore point window and then tap or click the Finish button.

(7): Tap or click Yes to the Once started, System Restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue? question.

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

Windows System Re4store progress

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

Please wait while your Windows files and settings are being restored

(8): 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.
System Restore Progress

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

(9): Wait while your computer restarts.

(10): Sign in to Windows as you normally do.

(11): 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.".

System Restore Completed Successfully

Tap or click the Close button.

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 by choosing Undo System Restore.

How to use System Restore in Windows 7

Step 1: Open System Restore — Click the Start button (or press the Windows key on your keyboard) and enter “System Restore” in the search bar at the bottom. It should be the first result that pops up. Click on it.

System Restore in Windows 7

Step 2: Revert to a previous state  — Click “Next” and select your desired restore point from the list of options. Each restore point tells you what type of restore it is, and has a time stamp that tells you when the point was created. If you want to see all of the available restore points, click the box at the bottom labelled “Show more restore points”. Once you pick a point to restore to, click “Next” and then click the “Finish” button to begin the process. Once done, you’ll be placed back at the desktop.

Revert to a previous state

Step 3: Manually create a restore point (optional) —  To manually create a restore point, press the Windows key (or click the Start button), type “Create a restore point” and click the option of the same name.

Click “Create” at the bottom of the System Protection tab in the new “System Properties” window that pops up, and enter a description for your restore point. Then, click “Create” to begin.

 Manually create a restore point (optional)

System Restore Availability on Windows

System Restore is available with Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. System Restore is also available from the Advanced Startup Options in Windows 10 and 8 or the System Recovery Options menu in Windows 7 and Vista.

When System Restore fails - Windows 10

There are cases where System Restore cannot recover your computer. Windows 10 can restore Windows without losing your documents, emails, pictures, etc, however all programs and apps are removed.


  • Open Reset this PC: Go to Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery and click Get started below Reset this PC.

Windows 10 - Reset this PC

  • Reset Windows 10, but save your files: On the next screen, click Keep my files and follow the prompts to reset Windows 10. A list of apps that will be removed is reported and be asked to confirm your choice before beginning the restore.

Windows 10 Ready to reset this PC