How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (2023)

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (1)

To use System Restore on Windows, open the Start Menu, search for "Restore", and select "Create a Restore Point." Ensure that Restore Points are enabled for C: drive, then create a restore point. To use a restore point, click "System Restore" above "Protection Settings" and select a restore point.

System Restore is a Windows feature that can help fix certain types of crashes and other computer problems. Here’s how it works, how to set it up, and how to use it when things go awry.

We’re going to be using Windows 11 in this article, but System Restore has been around a long time — and works pretty much the same way in each version of Windows. The instructions here are good for Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11, and you’ll encounter only minor differences throughout the process.

What Is System Restore?

When something goes wrong on your system as a result of a bad piece of software — maybe an app you installed, or a driver that broke something important — it can be hard to fix. System Restore lets you restore your Windows installation back to its last working state.

It does this by creating “restore points” every so often. Restore points are snapshots of your Windows system files, certain program files, registry settings, and hardware drivers. You can create a restore point at any time, though Windows automatically creates a restore point once per week. It also creates a restore pointright before a major system event, like installing a new device driver, app, or running Windows update.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (2)

Then, if something goes wrong, you can runSystem Restore and point it to a recent restore point. It will reinstate those system settings, files, and drivers, returning your underlying Windows system to that earlier state.

This can be really useful when troubleshooting certain types ofproblems. For example, if you install a device driver that makes your computer unstable, you’ll want to uninstall that driver. However, in some cases, the driver may not uninstall properly, or it may damage system files when you uninstall it. If you use System Restore and select a restore point that was created before you installed the driver, this can restore your system files to the previous state before any problem occurred.

Windows Restore can also be really useful for undoing the damage caused by a misbehaving app or Windows update. Sometimes, apps and updates can cause problems with other apps or even system components, and simply uninstalling the app might not reverse the damage. Restoring to a point before the app was installed, however, can often clear up the problem.

How Does Using System Restore Affect My Personal Files?

RELATED: What's the Best Way to Back Up My Computer?

System Restore is different than making backups — it specifically works on the underlying Windows system, rather than everything on your hard drive. As such, System Restore does notsave old copies of your personalfiles as part of its snapshot. It also will not delete or replace any of your personal files when you perform a restoration. So don’t count on System Restore as working like a backup. That isn’t what it’s intended for.You should always have a good backup procedure in place for all your personal files.

(Video) How To Enable The System Restore Protection in Windows 10/8/7 [Tutorial]

How Does Using System Restore Affect My Apps?

When you restore your PC to an earlier restore point, any apps youinstalled after that point will get uninstalled. Apps that were installed whenthat restore point was created will still be in place. Apps that you uninstalled after making that restore point will get restored, but with a very big caveat. Since System Restore only restores certain types of files, programs that get restored often won’t work — or at least, work properly until you re-run their installers.

Windows does let you see exactly what programs will be affected when you go through the process, but it’s a good idea to restore to the most recent restore point possible to minimize problems with apps. It’s also a good idea to create manual restore points before you undertake big installations or settings changes so that you know you can revert to a very recent restore point if you need to.

Can System Restore Remove Viruses or Other Malware?

RELATED: What's the Best Antivirus for Windows 10 and 11? (Is Microsoft Defender Good Enough?)

System Restore is not a good solution for removing viruses or other malware. Since malicious software is typically buried within all kinds of places on a system, you can’t rely on System Restore being able to root out all parts of the malware. Instead, you should rely on a quality virus scanner that you keep up to date.

How to Enable System Restore

For many people, System Restore protection is turned on by default for your main system drive (C:) and not other drives on your PC. For others, System Restore is not enabled by default for any drives. Right now, there’s no consensus for why this happens. It does not appear related to whether Windows was installed fresh or upgraded, how much disk space you have available, what type of drives you have, or anything else we can figure out.

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.” Don’t worry. This doesn’t actually create a restore point; it just opens the dialog where you can get to all the System Restore options.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (3)

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.

(In our case, System Restore was already enabled for our C: drive. If it isn’t on your system, that’s the first drive you’ll probably want to enable it for.)

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (4)

In the “System Protection” dialog that opens, click the “Turn on system protection” option, adjust the “Max Usage” slider to the amount of hard drive space you want System Restore to be able to use, and then click “OK.”

(Video) How to Use System Restore on Windows 11

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (5)

You can then click “OK” again to exit the System Properties dialog. Just be aware that when Windows creates a restore point (or you create one manually), System Restore will create a restore point on all the drives that have system protection enabled.

How to Create a Restore Point

As we mentioned earlier, System Restore automatically creates restore points on a week, and whenever a major event like an application or driver installation happens. You can also create a restore point yourself whenever you want. Hit Start, type “restore,” and then click “Create a restore point.” On the “System Protection” tab, click the “Create” button.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (6)

Type a description for your restore point that will help you remember why you created it and then click “Create.”

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (7)

It can take 30 seconds or so to create a restore point, and System Restore will let you know when it’s done.Click “Close.”

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (8)

How to Restore Your System to an Earlier Restore Point

Okay, so you have System Restore enabled, and you’ve been diligent about creating restore points whenever you mess with your system. Then, one fateful day, the inevitable happens — something goes wonky with your system, and you want to restore to an earlier restore point.

You’ll start the restore process from the same “System Protection” tab where you configure System Restore options. Hit Start, type “restore,” and then click “Create a restore point.” On the “System Protection” tab, click the “System Restore” button.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (9)

The welcome page of the System Restore wizard just gives you a brief description of the process. Click “Next” to go on.

(Video) Backup and Restore System image of windows 7 10 11 Full Process

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (10)

The next page shows you the available restore points. By default, the only thing showing will probably be the automatic weekly restore point and any manual restore points you’ve created. Selectthe “Show more restore points” option to see any automatic restore points created before app or driver installations.

Select the restore point you want — remember, the most recent working restore point is ideal — and then click “Scan for affected programs” to have System Restore detect any programs that willbe uninstalled during the process.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (11)

System Restore will present you with two lists. The top list shows you programs and drivers that will be deleted if you restore Windows to the selected restore point. The bottom list shows programs and drivers that might be restored by the process. Again,even programs and drivers that get restored might not function properly until you do a full reinstall.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (12)

When you’re ready to restore, click the restore point you want to use and then click Next. Note that you can skip the scanning step and just click Next anyway, but it’s always good to see what apps will be affected before you start the process.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (13)

Next, you’re asked to confirm the restoration. Make sure you’ve selected the right restore point and click “Finish.”

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (14)

System Restore informs you that once it starts, the restore process cannot be interrupted. Click “Yes” to start.

How to Use System Restore in Windows 10, 11, 7, and 8 (15)

(Video) Windows 11 System restore still exists and how to use it

Windows will restart your PC and begin the restore process. It can take a while for System Restore to reinstate all those files — plan for at least 15 minutes, possibly more — but when your PC comes back up, you’ll be running at your selected restore point. It’s now time to test whether it resolved whateverproblems you were having.And remember that System Restore creates an additional restore point right before performing the restore process, so you can always undo your actions by performing this same process and selecting that new restore point.

Other Ways You Can Fix System Problems

If System Restore doesn’t solve your problem, there are other ways you can go about addressing some of the issues System Restore is designed to solve.

If the problem was caused by a recent update, you can look at uninstalling that Windows Update or reverting to a previous “build” of Windows 10 or Windows 11. This should fix problems that might occur due to Windows Update and issues with your specific hardware and software.

RELATED: How to Roll Back Builds and Uninstall Updates on Windows 10

If you believe your system files are corrupted — or just want to check — you can try using the System File Checkerto scan for and fix corrupt system files.

If you installed an update or hardware driver and the problem started after that, you can uninstall the driver or update and block them from being automatically installed again.

If Windows isn’t booting properly so you can’t do any of this, you can boot into Safe Mode. You can also visit the “advanced startup options” screen — these will automatically appear if Windows can’t boot normally — and use the options there.

Safe Mode is also useful if for some reason System Restore is unable to restore your PC to the selected restore point. You can boot into Safe Mode and try running System Restore again from there. One big caveat though, as reader Straspey was good enough to point out. When you revert to a restore point from Safe Mode, System Restore does not create a new restore point during the process, meaning that you don’t have a way to undo the restore.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About "Reset This PC" in Windows 8 and 10

Windows 10 and Windows 11 also have two recovery tools that you can use if all else fails.The“Reset Your PC” feature can restore Windows to its factory default condition, orperform a clean installation of Windows while keeping your personal files intact.

System Restore isn’t a cure-all, but it can fix a surprising number ofproblems and unfortunately has been downplayed somewhat in recent years amidst all of Windows’ other recovery tools. System Restore is almost always worth trying before you resort to more drastic measures, however.


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Does System Restore work in Windows 11? ›

To restore from a system restore point, select Advanced Options > System Restore. This won't affect your personal files, but it will remove recently installed apps, drivers, and updates that might be causing your PC problems. To reinstall Windows 11, select Advanced Options > Recover from a drive.

How do I perform a System Restore on Windows 8? ›

To restore your PC to an earlier point in time

Enter Control Panel in the search box, and tap or click Control Panel. Enter Recovery in the Control Panel search box, and then tap or click Recovery. Tap or click Open System Restore, and then follow the instructions.

How do I restore my computer from Windows 11 to Windows 10? ›

How to roll back from Windows 11 to Windows 10. Here's how to make the switch back to Windows 10: Start menu > Settings > Windows Update > Advanced options > Recovery > Previous version of Windows (you may see Go back instead). That's it!

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.

Does Windows 7 Backup and Restore work with Windows 11? ›

Yes. In Windows 11, you can restore files from a backup created with Backup and Restore or File History. Connect the external storage device that contains your backup files.

How do I do a clean restore on Windows 11? ›

To start the factory reset process in Windows 11, click Start > Settings > System > Recovery (Figure 1). Then, select Reset PC.

How to do a restore point on Windows 11? ›

Create a system restore point
  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type Create a restore point, and select it from the list of results.
  2. On the System Protection tab in System Properties, select Create.
  3. Type a description for the restore point, and then select Create > OK.

Why is system restore disabled Windows 11? ›

Cause. This issue occurs because system restore points don't persist after a Windows upgrade. This behavior is by design.

How do I do a full system restore on my computer? ›

Click Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery.

On the Recovery screen, click Get started under Reset this PC, which offers you two choices – Keep my files or Remove everything. The latter is what you want if you're getting rid of your computer and want to factory reset it first.

How do I run system restore? ›

Use System Restore
  1. Select the Start button, then type control panel in the search box next to the Start button on the taskbar and select Control Panel (Desktop app) from the results.
  2. Search Control Panel for Recovery, and select Recovery > Open System Restore > Next.

Does System Restore still work on Windows 10? ›

System Restore on Windows 10 is a crucial backup feature included in the OS. It lets you create restore points before installing any new apps, drivers, and Windows updates.

How to rollback to Windows 10 from Windows 11 after 10 days? ›

Downgrade after 10 days
  1. Open the Windows 10 download page. Download Windows 10.
  2. Select the Download tool now button under the Create Windows 10 install media section.
  3. Double-click the MediaCreationTool21H1.exe file to run the setup.
  4. Select the Accept button.
  5. Select the Upgrade this PC now option.
  6. Select the Next button.

How to go back to Windows 10 from Windows 11 if Go Back option is not available? ›

If the Go back option is not available, it might be possible the previous installation files is removed. In this case, you need to make clean install of Windows 10 if you still want to go back:

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.

What is F11 key used for? ›

F11: Saves the file in the active window. F9: Sends the e-mail in the active window. F10: Starts the spell checking program in the active document, if the document's program has this feature.

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.

Why does Backup and Restore say Windows 7 in Windows 11? ›

According to the official answers from Microsoft Community, Microsoft has included the old Backup and Restore feature from Windows 7. This was deprecated in Windows 8 and removed in Windows 8.1, but it's back. It's also known as "Windows Backup".

Does Windows 7 Backup and Restore work with Windows 10? ›

You can use your PC's Backup and Restore feature to help you move all your favorite files off a Windows 7 PC and onto a Windows 10 PC. This option is best when you have an external storage device available.

Does Windows 7 have system restore? ›

Log on as an administrator, and click OK. Click System Restore, and then click Next. The most recent restore point is the default choice and the best place to start. To choose a different restore point, click the Show more restore points check box, and then click a restore point.

Does Windows 11 factory reset delete everything? ›

It will remove everything and reinstall Windows. If the Operating System is upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11 on your computer, you will not be able to return the previous version after resetting the computer.

Where are System Restore points stored Windows 11? ›

restore points are stored in the System Volume Information folder on each drive. For instance C:\System Volume Information .

Does Windows 11 have a PC Cleaner? ›

Microsoft developed the PC Manager application for Windows 11, Windows 10 (1809), and the above operating system. To avoid third-party applications, Microsoft creates its PC cleaner application.

Why won't my computer do a System Restore? ›

If Windows is failing to work properly because of hardware driver errors or errant startup applications or scripts, Windows System Restore may not function properly while running the operating system in normal mode. Hence, you may need to start the computer in Safe Mode, and then attempt to run Windows System Restore.

Why cant I use System Restore? ›

If system restore loses functionality, one possible reason is that system files are corrupt. So, you can run System File Checker (SFC) to check and repair corrupt system files from the Command Prompt to fix the issue.

Why do I have no System Restore? ›

If the System Restore points are missing, it can be because the System Restore utility has been turned off manually. Whenever your turn off System Restore, all previous points created are deleted. By default, it's turned on. To check if everything runs correctly with System Restore, follow the instructions below.

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.

Does System Restore restore all files? ›

A system restore point is not a full backup. It does not affect user data or files. This means that a system restore point can be safely used by a user. A system restore will not delete personal files such as documents, pictures, music or videos.

Will System Restore delete all my files? ›

Although System Restore can change all your system files, Windows updates and programs, it will not remove/delete or modify any of your personal files like your photos, documents, music, videos, emails stored on your hard drive. Even you have uploaded a few dozen pictures and documents, it will not undo the upload.

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

How do I run System Restore from a recovery disk? ›

Turn on the computer. Insert Recovery Disc #1 into the DVD drive. Turn off the computer.
Under Choose a recovery tool, click to select the desired option:
  1. Startup Repair.
  2. System Restore.
  3. Windows Complete PC Restore.
  4. Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool.
  5. Command Prompt.
  6. VAIO Recovery Center.
Jul 23, 2019

How do I restore my System Restore files? ›

Right-click the file or folder, and then select Restore previous versions. You'll see a list of available previous versions of the file or folder. The list will include files saved on a backup (if you're using Windows Backup to back up your files) as well as restore points, if both types are available.

Can I install Windows 7 on a Windows 11 computer? ›

As per this page of Microsoft, the best thing is that programs that are compatible with Windows 7 will run on Windows 11 as well. This means that you can run Windows 7 programs on Windows 11 without any issues.

How do I go back to Windows 7 from Windows 10? ›

How to Downgrade From Windows 10 to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1
  1. Open Start Menu, and search and open Settings.
  2. In the Settings app, find and select Update & security.
  3. Select Recovery.
  4. Select Go back to Windows 7 or Go back to Windows 8.1.
  5. Select Get started button, and it will revert your computer to an older version.
Feb 8, 2017

How do I restore and install Windows 7? ›

  1. Boot the computer as normal.
  2. Open the Control Panel by clicking Start, and then clicking Control Panel.
  3. Click System and Security, and then click System.
  4. Under the Control Panel Home menu, touch or click System protection. ...
  5. Click System Restore.
  6. Recommended Restore is the default choice.
Feb 21, 2021

How do I uninstall Windows 11? ›

How to uninstall a Windows update
  1. Select Start > Settings > Windows Update > Update history > Uninstall updates . View update history.
  2. On the list that appears, locate the update you want to remove, and then select Uninstall next to it.

How do I transfer everything from my old computer to my new computer Windows 11? ›

How to transfer to a Windows 11 computer
  1. Run Zinstall WinWin on your old computer. ...
  2. Run Zinstall WinWin on the new Windows 11 computer. ...
  3. If you'd like to select which applications and files you want to transfer, press the Advanced menu. ...
  4. Press “Go” on the Windows 11 computer to start the transfer.

How to dual boot Windows 11 and Windows 7 without USB? ›

Dual boot isn't possible without an external media. So, you will need to use a USB in order to dual boot.

Is Windows 11 free if you have Windows 7? ›

Owners of Windows 7 and Windows 8 do not get free upgrades to Windows 11. Windows 11 system requirements are controversially high.

How to downgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 10 after 10 days? ›

Downgrade after 10 days
  1. Open the Windows 10 download page. Download Windows 10.
  2. Select the Download tool now button under the Create Windows 10 install media section.
  3. Double-click the MediaCreationTool21H1.exe file to run the setup.
  4. Select the Accept button.
  5. Select the Upgrade this PC now option.
  6. Select the Next button.

How do you go back to Windows 10 from Windows 11 if go back option is not available? ›

To roll back to Windows 10 from 11, open Settings > System > Recovery and click “Go Back.” Skip the update check, follow the on-screen directions, and click “Go back to Windows 10.” The process will take several minutes to roll back to Windows 10 from 11.

How to downgrade Windows 11 to 8? ›

Go back to Windows 8.1
  1. Select the Start button > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. ...
  2. Try restoring your PC to its factory settings. ...
  3. If you have a product key for your previous version of Windows, use the media creation tool to create installation media for Windows 8.1, and then perform a clean install of Windows.


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