Here are answers to some common questions about System Restore.

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How does System Restore work?

System Restore uses restore points to return your system files and settings to an earlier point in time, without affecting personal files. For more information, see What is System Restore?

How do I start System Restore?

  • Open System Restore by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking System Tools, and then clicking System Restore. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Note

  • Before you start System Restore, save any open files and close all programs. System Restore will restart your computer.

Can I undo the changes System Restore makes?

Yes. Every time you use System Restore, a restore point is created before proceeding, so you can undo the changes if they don't fix your problem. If you use System Restore when the computer is in safe mode, you cannot undo the restore operation. However, you can run System Restore again and choose a different restore point if one exists.

To undo the changes System Restore makes

  1. Open System Restore by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking System Tools, and then clicking System Restore. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. Click Undo System Restore, and then click Next.

  3. Review your choices, and then click Finish.

What files are changed during a system restore?

System Restore affects Windows system files, programs, and registry settings. It can also make changes to scripts, batch files, and other types of executable files on your computer.

Note

  • System Restore does not affect personal files, such as e-mail, documents, or photos, so it cannot help you restore a deleted file. If you have backups of your files, you can restore the files from a backup.

Why doesn't System Restore protect FAT32 disks?

System Restore doesn't protect FAT32 and other FAT disks because FAT disks don't support the use of shadow copies. Shadow copies contain information about changes to documents and system files. Shadow copies require the NTFS file system. In this version of Windows, System Restore uses shadow copies to create restore points. If you store system files on a FAT disk, you cannot use System Restore to undo changes.

How do I choose a restore point?

System Restore automatically recommends the most recent restore point created before a significant change, such as installing a program. You can also choose from a list of restore points. Try using restore points created just before the date and time you started noticing problems.

How often are restore points created?

Restore points are created automatically every day, and just before significant system events, such as the installation of a program or device driver. You can also create a restore point manually.

How do I create a restore point manually?

  1. Open System by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking System.

  2. In the left pane, click System Protection Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. Click the System Protection tab, and then click Create.

  4. In the System Protection dialog box, type a description, and then click Create.

How much hard disk space does System Restore require?

To store restore points, you need at least 300 megabytes (MB) of free space on each hard disk that has System Protection turned on. System Restore might use up to 15 percent of the space on each disk. As the amount of space fills up with restore points, System Restore will delete older restore points to make room for new ones.

System Restore will not run on hard disks smaller than 1 gigabyte (GB).

How long are restore points saved?

Restore points are saved until the hard disk space System Restore reserves is filled up. As new restore points are created, old ones are deleted. If you turn off System Protection (the feature that creates restore points) on a disk, all restore points are deleted from that disk. When you turn System Protection back on, new restore points are created.

How do I turn System Restore on or off?

System Protection, the feature that creates restore points, is on by default. We recommend that you keep System Protection turned on for all hard disks that contain important files so that you can use System Restore if you need to.

To turn System Restore on or off

  1. Open System by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking System.

  2. In the left pane, click System Protection. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. To turn on System Protection for a hard disk, select the check box next to the disk, and then click OK.
    – or –
    To turn off System Protection for a hard disk, clear the check box next to the disk, and then click OK.

I have an earlier version of Windows on my computer, but when I switch between versions, my restore points disappear. Why?

In this version of Windows, restore points are created differently and are not recognized by earlier versions of Windows. If you have a dual-boot configuration and you start an earlier version of Windows, the earlier version will delete any restore points created by this version of Windows. If you start this version of Windows, restore points will resume being created automatically.

What if System Restore doesn't fix the problem?

If System Restore doesn't fix the problem, you can undo the restore operation or try choosing a different restore point. If System Restore does not display any restore points to choose from, make sure you have System Protection turned on and that you have at least 300 MB of free space left on your hard disk. For more information about fixing problems, see What to do if Windows won't start correctly