Try System Restore for Windows 10

Category: Windows-10

Sometimes Windows suddenly starts to misbehave for reasons unknown. You could spend hours tracking down the subtle change that caused the problem, or you could climb into your time machine and go back to an earlier, pleasanter time when everything worked perfectly. That latter option is possible with the System Restore feature in Windows 10. Here's how it works...

Fix Windows 10 Problems With System Restore

Installing new applications, Windows updates, or software drivers can sometimes cause Windows to behave unpredictably. If un-installing the new software doesn't cure the problem, or you're not sure which recently installed software is causing the problem, then System Restore can undo all of the changes made to your system up to a specific "restore point" in the past.

System Restore can also help if a virus or spyware is causing you trouble. If your internet security software doesn't clean up the mess, a trip back in time with System Restore might do the trick.

NOTE: On some Windows 10 systems, System Restore isn’t turned on. Here's how to check if System Restore is enabled, and turn it on if not. Click the Start button and type, "create a restore point" in the Search box. Click the "create a restore point" link in the search results. The System Properties window will open with the System Protection tab selected. Under Protection Settings, you'll see a list of drives that qualify for System Restore. Click on your System drive (usually C:), then click the Configure button. In the next window click "Turn on system protection." For the Max Usage setting I recommend 10 to 15% of your disk space. Click Apply, then OK. System Restore is now turned on for your system drive. Repeat the process if desired for any other drives.

System Restore Windows 10

Managing Restore Points

Restore points are snapshots of your system's registry, installed software, drivers, and system information settings taken at various times. They are saved in date-stamped restore point files. Windows creates restore points automatically right before new software packages are installed using Windows Installer, when Windows Updates are installed, and about once every 24 hours of computer use. Also, users can manually create a restore point at any time. If you just turned on System Restore, that would be a good time to create your first restore point.

To create a restore point, click the Start button and type, "create a restore point" in the Search box. Click the "create a restore point" link in the search results and then click the "Create" button at the bottom of the System Protection tab that appears.

Restore point files are kept in a reserved area of your hard drive. The Configure button on the System Protection tab lets you configure how much System Restore can save and restore. You can control the amount of disk space reserved for restore points on this tab. As I mentioned above, my rule of thumb is to allocate 10 to 15% of your hard drive space for restore points. When the reserved space starts to run out, the oldest restore points are deleted to make room for new ones. If you have hundreds of gigabytes of available hard drive storage, this may not even be an issue. If you're low on disk space, you can use the Delete button to delete all restore points for the selected drive.

Back on the System Protection tab, you can click the System Restore button to start restoring your system to an earlier time. The System Restore utility displays a list of system restore points available to you. I recommend that you click the "Show more restore points" checkbox to show all of the available restore points. Select one that you feel will restore your system to a state when it was working well. After selecting one, you may want to click that button that says, "scan for affected programs." These are programs that will be lost or restored to states prior to their last update during a System Restore.

It's important to remember that your personal files will not be lost during a System Restore operation. Documents, photos, spreadsheets, etc., created by application programs, and other files stored in the My Documents folder, are off-limits to System Restore.

If a System Restore attempt ends with an error, it might be due to a conflict with your anti-virus software. If that happens, try running System Restore in Safe Mode. To do so, click Start, then type "Change advanced startup options" and click the first result. Under Advanced startup, click "Restart now". When your computer restarts, click Troubleshoot, then Advanced options, then System Restore. Follow the prompts to continue.

System Restore is the "undo button" that can save you hours of trying to figure out which of many recent changes is causing Windows to misbehave. It's worth a try, especially since you can undo the System Restore!

Do you have something to say about using System Restore on Windows 10? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Try System Restore for Windows 10"

(See all 22 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Alan
27 Feb 2020

System restore has saved my posterior several times in the past and because of that, I make darned sure it's always activated and up to date. I create restore points once a week. That way if some bugs enter my system, I can restore it to a previous time when the system was performing correctly. By the way, a couple of years ago my system got corrupted when I clicked on a picture of Clint Eastwood on Facebook saying "Clint Eastwood just passed away". Then there was a phone number to call to "help" me to undue the damage the "ransomware" had done. I hung up on the guy and performed a system restore and that solved the problem. Afterwords, I ran a deep virus scan on the computer and all was well.


Posted by:

Kawika56
27 Feb 2020

Everytime I have tried System Restore, afterwards it stated "No Changes made to this System" then I would try several older Restore Points and the same thing would be the result!
NOTHING!
It did not matter how far I went back!
It has not worked properly ever since Windows 98 all the way through Windows 10!


Posted by:

Zvonimir
27 Feb 2020

"For the Max Usage setting I recommend 10 to 15% of your disk space." This is too much. 15 GB is sufficient for the system drive.


Posted by:

Jim Shaneman
27 Feb 2020

BUT, with the faster DDR 4 chips, and smaller SSD (125 GBs) boot drives, new system aren't heavied up for lots of restore points. When you put aside 10 to 15 percent of the drive for Restore Points, there's not a lot of room left for other stuff. Just sayin'.
Win 10 is not exactly a lightweight when it comes to chewing up space.


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
27 Feb 2020

If you don't have a relevant system restore point or the system restore point doesn't help and Windows 10 is "toast", I highly recommend repairing Windows 10 without changing or deleting any of your apps or data. I like the analogy of replacing the bones of a body without affecting any soft tissue. Here is one description of how to do it:

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-windows_install-winpc/how-to-perform-a-repair-upgrade-using-the-windows/35160fbe-9352-4e70-9887-f40096ec3085

Doing a "normal" full Windows 10 restore would otherwise put you back to none of your apps and none of your data.


Posted by:

bill
27 Feb 2020

I always do a system backup before installing questionable program. Then if a problem just do a system restore of the backup. Today working on my puter I notice internet is not enabled. Went to device manager and no ethernet card installed for some reason so just did refresh and fixed the problem


Posted by:

Kawika 56
27 Feb 2020

RE: " Delete button to delete all restore points for the selected drive."
Why does Windows insist on Deleting ALL the Restore Points?
Instead why can't they delete all but the ones you check or perhaps all but the five.
Make it up to the user which Restore Points to delete!


Posted by:

Edd Garrison
27 Feb 2020

It seems that every time Win 10 updates the system that system restore is turned off and previous restore points are deleted. I have seen a setting to correct this.


Posted by:

SysOp404
27 Feb 2020

I've used it flawlessly on many occasions, on various computers. But other times, I've found that ALL of the Restore Points have vanished without a trace! (Yes, I know major Windows updates/upgrades wipe them, but that's not what I'm talking about here.)

Like others, I too create manual Restore Points once a week, (as well as before and after installing software), so am baffled as to how they can suddenly be gone. (No malware was involved, in any of the cases.)

I'd love to know if anyone has found a method to "backup" Restore Points, for insurance against those times they choose to suddenly disappear without warning... (only when REALLY needed, of course). Nothing I've tried has worked to save them to an external drive for safe-keeping.


Posted by:

MartinW
27 Feb 2020

Two Win10 laptops: I DO create Restore Points. On one computer, they're always still there (until I delete them). On The other, it's hit or miss on whether it shows any. No apparent connection with major updates, malware, or any reason I can find. [An extra factoid: the computer that deletes updates also has trouble with my Microsoft account, but all scans, Microsoft or external, show nothing wrong.]


Posted by:

Melculbertson
27 Feb 2020

System restore has saved my bacon on a few occasions. It’s a great tool to fix problems. I would have been in deep do-do if not for system restore.


Posted by:

Edd Garrison
27 Feb 2020

Download wu10.diagcab from the Win10 microsoft site if you haven't already. It aloets you to run a better update diagnostic for update as an ADMIN.
You can choose to wipe out windows up date files on your computer that might have an error from previous updates and download new files. Regular update checkers in Win10 don't usually do that.


Posted by:

Edd Garrison
27 Feb 2020

Download wu10.diagcab from the Win10 microsoft site if you haven't already. It aloets you to run a better update diagnostic for update as an ADMIN.
You can choose to wipe out windows up date files on your computer that might have an error from previous updates and download new files. Regular update checkers in Win10 don't usually do that.


Posted by:

Bernard Gray
27 Feb 2020

My windows 10 does not have a search field when I click start it shows me what programs I have but no search box. So how do I set a restore point?


Posted by:

Brian B
27 Feb 2020

I create a restore point just before installing any new software, or performing an action which might foul up the system, otherwise, Macrium Reflect decremental daily. I've had serious trouble with system restore in the past, and I no longer trust it do what it's supposed to.


Posted by:

RandiO
27 Feb 2020

When installing/updating any Win10 program; I let RevoUninstaller track all changes down to the registry edits.
I have a WD MyCloud NAS utility which allows me to virtualize NAS drives. When I finally updated this 'WD Discovery' utility using Revo; I realized that the new update no longer allows one-click drive letter assignments to NAS drives.
Revo allowed me to create a new Registry backup and a SystemRestore point, during the uninstall procedure of the update and before doing a root-canal on cling-on registry data and deleting the left-over empty folders.
I, then, allowed Win10 SystemRestore to step back to the OS-state prior to the botched update. For some programs (e.g. TurboTax), where Win10 SystemRestore procedure quite does not achieve the desired results, I rely on Revo to replace the Registry, as well as the temp folders that may not be deleted upon install/uninstall.


Posted by:

Nezzar
27 Feb 2020

Dear Bob,
Thanks for a very useful article. I have used System Restore for Windows 10 successfully in the past.
I did checked my system restore settings and turned it on for the data drive (D) and also for Recovery (E) drive in addition to the C drive. Thanks for the tip.


Posted by:

Geoff Harris
27 Feb 2020

I like to use Repair Install using the Media Creation Tool. I do it every 6 months even if I don't need to. G


Posted by:

kevin
27 Feb 2020

Kawika 56:
I used to have problems like yours at certain times with Win 98 and XP, but less so with Windows 10. The best approach is to be sure that restore points are created often enough that there will not have been so many accumulated changes in your configuration when the time comes that you need to do a restore. It's good practice to proactively create a restore point periodically, choosing the time to do that when it is clear the PC has been working well. Afterwards, go ahead and let Disk Cleanup remove all the previous ones, to insure you will have space for subsequent points that get created automatically by the system as installations and other changes occur.

By the way, the older the restore point, the less likely the computer can be successfully restored with it. You can give older ones a try but if you already found a newer one didn't work, don't bother trying any that were created before then. The tasks performed in a restore are very complicated, especially because it leaves intact as much as possible that the user would not want (or need) undone. I think the various older points are dependent on each other and that is why you can't eliminate any in the sequence and expect the others to work. The user is required to delete all of them together (except the most recent one) as a way of preventing you from getting stuck with an unworkable system. For the same reason, when a restore fails, it aborts everything it attempted to do and then reassures you there were no changes.


Posted by:

Stephen
04 Mar 2020

I echo what Brian B wrote. Windows System Restore helped me with Windows 8 and older, but with Windows 10 I use Macrium Reflect for image backups. I make both incremental and differential backups and I also backup separately my data using other software.

Recently I also did an in-place Windows re-installation more than once and it was successful each time.


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