How to use System Restore on Windows 10

On Windows 10, System Restore is a feature designed to create a snapshot of the current working state and save it as a “restore point” when important changes are detected on your computer. If a critical problem occurs after installing an update, driver, or app, or after modifying the system settings incorrectly in the Registry, you can use a restore point to revert your laptop or desktop computer to an earlier point to resolve the issue without losing your files.

Although this is an excellent recovery feature, it’s disabled by default, meaning that you have to enable it before you can create points of restoration manually or the system automatically.

In this Windows 10 guide, we walk you through the steps to set up System Restore and the steps to recover from problems that may be affecting the normal operation of your device.

How to enable System Restore on Windows 10

Since Windows 10 no longer includes the System Restore feature enabled by default, you must enable it manually.

To enable System Restore on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create a restore point and click the top result to open the System Properties page.
  3. Under the “Protection Settings” section, select the primary “System” drive.
  4. Click the Configure button.

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select the Turn on system protection option.

    Turn on system protection on Windows 10

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick tip: Windows 10 can automatically manage the space. However, under the “Disk Space Usage” section, you can use the slider to specify the storage for recovery. You will also find a Delete button, which you can use to remove all restore points, which can come in handy to free up space or want to start over with the recovery feature.

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the system will automatically create restore points when applying a new update or applying specific system changes.

System Restore doesn’t enable automatically for all drives. If you have other drives connected to your computer, you must enable the protection manually on each storage. Also, it’s important to note that this is not a backup solution. It’s only a feature to undo system changes without affecting your files.

How to create a System Restore point on Windows 10

Once System Restore is enabled, it will create a checkpoint when it detects system changes automatically. However, if you plan to make configurations manually, you always want to create a restore point manually.

To create a restore point on Windows 10 manually, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create a restore pointand click the top result to open the System Properties page.
  3. Under the “Protection Settings” section, click the Create button.

    Create system restore point option

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Type a descriptive name for the restore point — for example, Before modifying the Registry settings.

    Windows 10 create restore point settings

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Click the Create button.
  6. Click the Close button.
  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, you should be able to undo system changes in the event that something happens while installing a new driver, program or applying changes to the Registry.

How to recover using System Restore on Windows 10

If an error or an unknown problem occurs after installing or modifying system settings, you can use the recovery feature to apply a restore point to undo the changes and fix the issue. You can complete this task from the Windows 10 desktop or the advanced startup settings if the computer no longer starts correctly.

Undo system changes from desktop

When you have access to the Windows 10 desktop, you can revert changes using these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create a restore pointand click the top result to open the System Properties page.
  3. Click the System Restore button.

    Windows 10 start system restore

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: If the option is grayed out, the system does not have any restore points available.

  4. Click the Next button.
  5. Select the restore point to undo changes and fix problems on Windows 10.

    Restore points

    Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Scan for affected programs button to confirm the apps that will be removed because they were added after creating the original restore point.
  7. Click the Close button.
  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Click the Finish button.

Once you complete the steps, System Restore will restore the computer to the previous working state. If one or more apps were affected, remember to reinstall after the process finishes.

Undo system changes from Advanced startup

Alternatively, you can use the Advanced startup settings to access the System Restore feature to recover the system if the computer doesn’t start correctly.

Access Advanced startup

To use System Restore through the Advanced startup environment, use these steps:

  1. Start the computer.
  2. As soon as the Windows logo appears, press the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.

    Windows 10 boot logo

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 two more times. (Or until the device boots into the recovery experience.)

After you complete the steps, you can use the steps below to revert system changes with System Restore.

If you cannot access the recovery environment with these instructions, you can start the device with a Windows 10 installation media, and while in the “Windows Setup” experience, click the Next button, click the Repair your computer button from the bottom-left corner, and then continue the steps below.

Undo changes with System Restore

To undo system changes on Windows 10 through the Advanced startup environment, use these steps:

  1. Click the Advanced options button.

    Automatic Repair Advanced Options

    Source: Windows Central

  2. Click on Troubleshoot.

    Advanced Startup Troubleshoot

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Click on Advanced options.

    Troubleshoot Advanced Options

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Click on System Restore.

    Advanced Options System Restore

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select the Windows 10 account.
  6. Confirm the account password.

    Advanced startup confirm account password

    Source: Windows Central

  7. Click the Continue button.
  8. Click the Next button.

    Advanced startup System Restore

    Source: Windows Central

  9. Select the restore point to fix the problem with your device.
  10. Click the Scan for affected programs button to confirm the apps that will be removed because they were added after creating the restore point.
  11. Click the Close button.
  12. Click the Next button.
  13. Click the Finish button.

    Windows 10 advanced startup complete system restore point

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the restore point will apply to undo system changes that may be causing problems, including those preventing the computer from starting correctly.

System Restore is only a feature to quickly recover a device from configuration problems. It is not a feature to replace a backup solution or an option to reset the computer to the factory default settings.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

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