Sometimes you have to fall in problems like, you installed a program on your Windows PC and right after the installation, the PC or Windows started to behave abnormally just because of that program or you just misconfigured a setting in Windows and now the Windows isn’t working properly and you can’t go back to previous state. Or just now your system is infected by virus or malware for some reason and you wish you could go back to the earlier working point when your PC was clean. To help users combat against these kinds of problems, Microsoft introduced a cool feature called “System Restore” starting from Windows ME in 2000. Later they have continued to add and improve this Time Machine like feature in Windows XP, 7, 8.x and today’s Windows 10.

What is System Restore

System Restore iconSystem Restore is a user configurable feature in Windows that can help Windows to restore its system files and configurations to a certain previous state. To go to an earlier system state it must have a Restore Point of that time. By default Windows will automatically create a Restore Point in every seven days. System Restore points are also auto created when your are about to install a complicated software or driver that may affect system files. Creating and restoring a System Restore point doesn’t affect your personal files like photos, videos, emails or documents. Thus if you accidentally crashed your Windows at some point by installing a driver or deleting a system file or misconfiguring something, you can use System Restore to bring your Windows to a previous working state. You can also System Restore from a previously created system image backup stored on hard drive.

How System Restore works

System Restore uses a feature called System Protection. When System Protection is turned on, Windows will automatically create Restore Points that contain information about Windows configuration, registry settings, program files, etc. You can also manually create a Restore Point of any time. Thus, a Restore Point is simply a representation of a stored state of system files of a certain time. It’s always a good practice to manually create System Restore point before you do something critical.

How to Create a System Restore Point in Windows 10, 8.x, 7 and Vista

1. On Windows 7 and Vista, click on Start Menu and then hit Control Panel. On Windows 8.x Right-click on bottom-left corner (where start button used to appear) and choose Control Panel.

Access control panel in Windows 7 and 8

2. In Control Panel window, choose System and Security. You can make Control Panel ‘view by category’ to easily find the setting.

System and Security in control panel

3. In System and Security window, click on System.

Windows system settings

4. Choose Advanced system settings from left side in System window.

Choose Advanced system settings

5. Go to System Protection tab in System Properties window. Here, before proceeding, make sure Protection is turned on for System drive (most of the time it’s C drive). If protection isn’t turned on for the system drive, first select it and then click Configure. In Configure window, you will have option to turn off System Protection and allocate more or less memory.

Configure system protection

Note: In Configuration, the more memory you allocate, the more numbers of restore points can be stored. Windows deletes old restore points when it exceeds memory allocation.

5. Hit the Create button.

Create restore point

6. Clicking Create button will bring a Restore Point creation window. Input any name you want to give the restore point. Then hit Create.

Gave a name to the restore point

7. Within one or two minutes, you should see a confirmation message stating that the restore point was created successfully.

Restore point creation message

This is how you can easily create a system restore point on Windows 7 and 8.x. Proceed to follow Windows XP guide and how to restore Restore Points.

How to Create a System Restore Point in Windows XP

1. On Windows XP, click on Start Menu and go this way: Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

Access system restore in Windows XP

2. In system restore window, choose Create a restore point and then click Next.

Create restore point in Windows XP

3. Give it a name and click Create.

Give a name to the restore point

Done.

How to Restore a Restore Point in Windows 10, 8.x, 7 and Vista

1. Repeat the steps up to step 5 in Restore Point creation guide.

2. In System Protection tab in System Properties window, click on System Restore button.

Restore a restore point in Windows 7 and 8

3. Click Next in wizard window. You should be presented with a window containing list of Restore Points with date. Select the restore point you want to restore to. Then click Next. There’s an option to scan for affected programs. You can use it to look for which programs would be affected.

Select a restore point

4. Review your steps, in confirmation window, click Finish.

Restore confirmation

5. After proceeding, system restoration will start with a system restart. After successful restoration, you should see a confirmation message like following:

Restore success message

You are done restoring your PC.

Restore a Restore Point in Windows XP

1. As before, click on Start Menu and go this way: Accessories > System Tools > System Restore.

2. Choose Restore my computer to an earlier time then click Next.

Restore XP to earlier state

3. Select your restoration point  and click Next. On confirmation windows, click Next.

4. After successful restoration with a restart, you should see the following message:

Restore completion message in XP

That’s it.

How to Undo a System Restoration (Windows 7, 8.x, Vista and XP)

Now that you have restored your system to a previous state and something got broken or you have fallen in further big problem. You might want to undo your system restoration.

Note: If you restored a restore point in safe mode, you can’t undo it.

  • On Windows 7, Vista and 8.x, in System Protection tab, click System Restore and then Undo System Restore. Then click Next.

Undo system restore in windows 7, 8 and Vista

  • On Windows XP, access System Restore window using previous XP guide. If you recently did a restoration, you will get an option like Undo my last restoration. Click Next after choosing it.

Undo System Restore on Windows XP

Proceed with reviewing steps.

 Verdict

It’s no doubt that System Protection feature is an innovative thing in Windows. It helps anyone to make a restore point before installing any harsh software so that he or she can go back to previous state if the system gets compromised. Even if you didn’t create a restore point yourself, you still have hope that Windows may have automatically created a restore point.

Author: 

Jaber is a tech enthusiast, geek and web worm from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is the founder and Chief-Editor of TechGainer. While he is away from his keyboard, either he's fishing or messing with wildlife. In case, you can contact him at rijans[at]techgainer[dot]com.