System Restore on Windows 10 allows you to send your PC back in time to undo changes that may be causing problems, and here's how to use it.

Sometimes something just goes wrong. An install screwed up everything, or you were tinkering and stuff isn't working right anymore. Of course, you performed a full backup first, but Windows 10 also includes System Restore so you can easily revert system changes without losing your files.

System Restore works by detecting system changes, such as in system files and settings, Registry, applications, and drivers, and saving a working state as a "restore point." If as a result of a misconfiguration your device experiences any issues, you can then use a restore point to undo the changes to fix problems that may be causing your PC to stop responding or affecting performance.

By default, System Restore is disabled on Windows 10, but when enabled and configured correctly, it can automatically create checkpoints, but you can create restore points manually before making any system changes.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to configure and use System Restore to undo changes that may be harming your device.

How to enable System Restore

On Windows 10, System Restore is turned off by default, but you can use the following steps to enable it:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create a restore point, and click the result System Properties.
  3. Under "Protection Settings," select the main system drive, and click the Configure button.

  4. Select the Turn on system protection option.

    Quick Tip: You can also use the slider to set the amount of storage you want System Restore to use, which by default is only one percent.

  5. Click Apply.
  6. Click OK.

Once you've completed the steps, a new restore point will be created automatically when an important system change occur, such as before an installation of a Windows 10 update.

If you need to delete checkpoints, within the same page, you can click the Delete button to remove them all, which is a handy option, when creating a new restore point manually, and there isn't any more available space.

It's worth noting that you can enable System Restore only on supported drives. It's not a feature that you can turn on per device. In the case that you have multiple drives, it may not be possible to configure them.

How to create a System Restore point

Although a new restore point will be created automatically during a significant change happens, there will be times where you may want to manually create a restore point before modifying anything that might cause problems if you don't do it correctly.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create a restore point, and click the result System Properties.
  3. Under "Protection Settings," select the main system drive, and click the Create button.

  4. Enter a description to identify the restore point.

  5. Click Create.

After completing the steps, if something wrong happens while modifying the Registry, installing a new app or a driver, you can use the steps outlined below to use the restore point to undo the changes.

How to undo changes with System Restore

In the case you come across any issues, before reinstalling Windows 10, you roll back changes using a restore point to get up and running again.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Create a restore point, and click the result System Properties.
  3. Click the System Restore button.

  4. Click Next.

  5. Select the most recent known working restore point that will help you to fix the current problem.
  6. Click the Scan for affected programs button to see the applications that will be removed if they're installed after the restore point was created.
  7. Click Close.
  8. Click Next.

  9. Click Finish.

Once you've completed the steps, your device will go back in time to a previous state where everything was working correctly.

Using a restore point when your device won't boot

The previous steps went over how to use a restore point when you still have access to the desktop. However, there will be times when you may need to use System Restore because a system change is preventing your device from starting.

If you unable to start your computer, it's possible to use the system advanced options to access System Restore, which you can do with these steps:

  1. Try to start your PC three times to trigger automatic repair on Windows 10.
  2. Click on Advanced Startup.
  3. Click on Troubleshoot.
  4. Click on Advanced options.
  5. Click on System Restore.

  6. Click Next.

  7. Select the most recent known working restore point that will help you to fix the current problem.
  8. Click the Scan for affected programs button to see the applications that will be removed if they're installed after the restore point was created.
  9. Click Close.
  10. Click Next.

  11. Click Finish.

If you can't get to the automatic repair environment, you can boot your device using a bootable media, click Next, click the Repair your computer button, and then follow the above instructions.

Wrapping things up

While we're focusing this guide on Windows 10, System Restore has been around for years, and you can use the same instructions on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

Also, remember that this feature isn't replacement for a full backup or to reset your device to factory defaults. If your computer encounters a hardware problem, you won't be able to use this feature to recover, and it's likely that you may lose your files.

More Windows 10 resources

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