Source: Windows Central

On Windows 10, System Restore is a feature designed to create a snapshot of the device's current working state as a "restore point" when system changes are detected. If a critical problem occurs after installing a system update, device driver, application, or after modifying system settings incorrectly using the Registry or another tool, you can use one of the available restore points to revert the computer to an earlier point in time to resolve the problem without losing your files.

Although this is a handy recovery tool, for some odd reason, System Restore comes disabled by default, which means that you must enable it before Windows 10 can create restore points automatically or you manually.

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

How to enable System Restore on Windows 10

On Windows 10, the System Restore feature is not turned on by default, and you must enable it manually using Control Panel.

To enable System Restore, 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 main "System" drive
  4. Click the Configure button.

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select the Turn on system protection option.

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick tip: Windows 10 can automatically manage the space, but under the "Disk Space Usage" section, you can also use the slider to specify the storage amount to reserve for the recovery feature. 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 when you want to start over with the feature.

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

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 will automatically create a restore point when applying a new update or when specific system changes are made.

System Restore is not a feature you can enable globally. If you have additional drives you want to protect with System Restore, you must repeat the steps on every storage device. However, remember that this feature is available to undo settings changes. It is not a backup solution replacement.

How to create a System Restore point on Windows 10

If enabled, System Restore will create a checkpoint when it detects system changes automatically. However, if you modify the system configuration, 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 point, and click the top result to open the System Properties page.
  3. Under the "Protection Settings" section, click the Create button.

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Type a descriptive name for the restore point — for example, before modifying the Registry 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'll have a way to undo changes in the event that something goes wrong while installing a new device driver, app, or after modifying the Registry.

How to recover using System Restore on Windows 10

When something happens after modifying system settings on Windows 10, you can undo the changes by applying a previous restore point. You can complete this task from the desktop or the advanced startup settings if the system does not boot.

Undo system changes from desktop

If you still have access to the desktop, you can revert changes with System Restore using these steps:

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

    Source: Windows Central

    Quick note: If the option is grayed out, then it means that the system does not have any restore point available.

  4. Click the Next button.

    Source: Windows Central

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

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, System Restore will return the device to the previous good working state.

Undo system changes from Advanced startup

If the computer does not boot to access the desktop, you can use Advanced startup settings to use the System Restore feature to undo system changes.

Access Advanced startup

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

  1. Power on the device.
  2. As soon as the Windows logo appears on your screen, press the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Repeat steps No. 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 outlined below to revert system changes with System Restore.

Alternatively, if you cannot access the recovery environment with the above steps, you can start your 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 use the steps below.

Undo changes with System Restore

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

  1. Click the Advanced options button.

    Source: Windows Central

  2. Click on Troubleshoot.

    Source: Windows Central

  3. Click on Advanced options.

    Source: Windows Central

  4. Click on System Restore.

    Source: Windows Central

  5. Select your Windows 10 account.
  6. Confirm the account passowrd.

    Source: Windows Central

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

    Source: Windows Central

  9. Select the restore point to revert changes.
  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.

    Source: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, the changes causing the problem will be removed with the previous snapshot bringing the device back to a good-known working state.

We are focusing this guide on Windows 10, but since this is a legacy feature, you can also refer to these instructions if you are using Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

Although System Restore is a convenient feature to quickly recover from configuration problems, it is not a feature meant to replace a backup solution or an option to reset the computer to the factory default settings.

More Windows 10 resources

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