A Windows utility, System Restore, allows you to restore your Operating System to an earlier working state, in case you encounter some issues (corruption, faulty driver…) with the current state of your PC. It’s very simple and easy to use. You can revert to the previous system state with ease if you are not satisfied with some major updates in your system. This article was written with Windows 8, 8.1  and 10 in mind.

In the context of the System Restore utility, references to “system” should be understood as Operating System (Windows). A system state denotes, the scenario of your PC with respect to a particular timestamp. Hence, this scenario varies accordingly with time. While a present system state may highlight some new apps and updates installed, those changes won’t be prevalent in an old state.

System Restore is done with the help of ‘restore points’ that are created both automatically and manually. Restore-points act like checkpoints with each having the state of the system saved in distinct timestamps. In this tutorial, we’ll guide you on how to do a system restore in Windows 8 and 10 systems. IMPORTANT: Restore Points do NOT save user data, only the Operating System (Windows) state is saved. If you want to save everything including OS and data+apps look at how to create a System Image.

How To Enable System Restore?

Method-1:

  1. Access Control Panel -> System and Security -> System. In the left panel, click on ‘System Protection’.
    windows system restore
  2. You shall now be able to see a box revealing the ‘System Protection’ tab. Check if your primary partition has the ‘Protection’ turned on. Select the partition and click on the ‘Configure’ button.
    how to system restore
  3. Select the ‘Turn System Protection on’. You may also reserve some space on the disk. Just drag the pointer as per the size you want to allocate. Click ‘Apply’ to save changes.

Method-2:

  1. Click on the folder button located in the taskbar.
  2. Right-click on ‘Your PC’.  Hit ‘Properties’. Repeat from Step-2 onwards, as described in the previous method to enable system restore.

Method-3:

how to do a system restore
  1. Press the Start button in Windows 10, and type ‘restore’. You shall be able to see the utility, ‘Create A Restore Point’. Click on it. Repeat from Step-2 onwards as mentioned in Method-1. In Windows 8 and 8.1, you can do the same by typing up ‘Restore’ in the search panel of the ‘Charms bar’.

How To Create A Restore Point?

how to create a restore point

After you are done enabling ‘System Protection’, click on the ‘Create’ button to create a restore point. It shall prompt you to enter a name for the ‘restore point’. Type the name and hit enter to create it.

How To System Restore?

Method-1: From Windows

how to system restore

If you want to restore your system while Windows is operational, you can use this method. You just need to access the ‘System Protection’ tab, as described in the previous methods for enabling ‘System Protection’. Click on the ‘System Restore’ button. It shall pop up a ‘System Restore’ box. Click ‘Next’ to reveal the list of restore points.
Select the one you want your system to be restored to. You can also ‘scan for affected programs’ associated with the restore point. Click Next->Finish to confirm the initiation of system restore. Your PC will automatically restart to the state of your restore point.

Method-2: From Advanced Startup Options

windows system restore

‘Advanced Startup Options’, helps you to fix startup issues associated with Windows. When your PC crashes and fails to start, it automatically leads you to ‘Troubleshoot’. Click Troubleshoot->Advanced Options.

how to do a system restore

After successfully doing so, all you need is to click on ‘System Restore’. Your PC will automatically restart and ask you to choose an account to continue.

It shall lead you to the System Restore window. Choose the desired restore point, and click on next to start the process. Nevertheless, there are also several other ways to access, ‘Advanced Startup Options’.

Method-3: Using Command Prompt

  1. Launch Command Prompt as ‘System Administrator’.
    how to do a system restore using command prompt
  2. Type the command  ‘cd restore’ and hit enter. Subsequently, type ‘rstrui.exe’. It will lead you to the ‘System Restore’ window. Repeat the steps, as mentioned in the above methods, after restore window pops up.

Alternative Recovery Options To System Restore

  1. Refresh your PC – This feature allows you to reinstate your PC to the default state in case an unknown issue occurs. It doesn’t affect your personal files, photos, and documents. While it removes all the third-party applications, the apps associated with Windows remain unaffected.
  2. Reset your PC – Resetting your PC, will delete all your files and reinstall Windows from scratch.
  3. System Image Backup – A system image allows you to preserve a backup of your hard drive that can be later used to restore your PC without any hiccups, in case there’s a hard-drive failure. In other words, if your hard disk crashes, you don’t have to take the burden of re-installing Windows from scratch. Just point to the respective system image, and your system shall restore to a working condition with all your applications and files intact. You can refer our tutorial on how to create a system image for more details.

How To Refresh/Reset Your PC?

If you are using Windows 10, press the ‘Start’ button. Type ‘Recovery’. You shall see something like ‘Recovery Options’. Click on it to reveal its window. Hit ‘Get Started’ associated with ‘Reset PC’.  Doing so will reveal two options. You can either choose to keep your personal files or instead remove everything that would reinstall Windows. Select the one you desire. It shall then display the applications that will be affected by the operation. Click ‘Next’ to initiate the process.

In Windows 8/8.1, it’s the same process. You just have to search ‘Recovery’ using the Charms Bar. Click on ‘Recovery Options’. It shall then display a window highlighting, ‘Reset PC’ and ‘Refresh PC’ separately. Click the ‘Get Started’ button on either of those to perform the operation you want.

You can refer the video below which elucidates how to refresh your PC in a list of simple steps.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using System Restore?

When we talk about merits, System Restore has quite some. It’s one among the easiest way to fix problems associated with your PC. You don’t need any prior technical knowledge or expertise to do it. Secondly, it’s very fast, as compared to other Windows recovery options. You can revert your PC to a stable working condition in a matter of minutes. However, if you rely on System Restore to fix startup problems, then in most of the cases it won’t work. This probably happens when you encounter hard drive failures or a major PC crash.

Hope, you gained the necessary knowledge with the help of our tutorial on how to do a system restore. If you have any queries, let us know in the comments section below.

Filed in General. Read more about Backups and Windows.

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