System Restore may work wonders and save your behind in those cases. If however you find system restore not working, there might be a number of things to check before you reinstall Windows. If you’re sure System Restore is turned on, but it’s still not working properly, try the following.
Run System Restore From Safe Mode
If you get any problems while running System Restore, or System Restore did not complete successfully, try running System Restore in Safe Mode. To run Windows in Safe Mode, restart your computer and press F8 (if you have Windows installed only). If you have a dual-boot configuration, select Windows and press F8 before the Windows logo appears. You can also make the system go into Safe Mode by typing ‘msconfig’ in the Start search box and enabling Safe Boot in the Boot tab.
When you’re on the desktop in Windows Safe Mode, type ‘System’ in the Start search box and press Enter when System Restore is highlighted. You should be able to run System Restore at this point. If System Restore works in Safe Mode, then perhaps your antivirus program or a corrupted file is preventing it from starting. You may need to adjust your antivirus program (like turn off Norton’s Tamper Protection feature) or perform scans before attempting to run System Restore again.
Sometimes, your System Restore files may also have become corrupted. You may have to use an earlier restore point (especially if you’ve tried the more recent ones without success), but if that doesn’t work, you may need to switch System Restore off (this will delete all your existing restore points), restart your computer and turn it on again.
Configure Disk Space Usage (300MB)
If you still can’t get System Restore to run properly, try adjusting the disk space allocated for System Restore since you might have run out of it. Microsoft recommends at least 300MB of free hard disk space and since System Restore might actually use up to 15% of space, you might look into increasing the allocated space or deleting old restore points.
To adjust disk space for System Restore, type ‘create restore’ in the Start search box and press Enter when Create a restore point is highlighted.
Now click on the Configure button and move the slider in the next dialog.
To delete old restore points, you can use the option below the slider to delete all restore points and previous versions of files (which I would not recommend), or only delete older restore points while still keeping the last, most recent one. To do the latter, type Disk Cleanup in the Start search box, right-click on the first item and choose Run as Administrator.
Now click on More Options, and then on Clean up.
Try System Image Backup Programs
System Restore may have always worked for you, but if you’ve tried a lot of things and System Restore just doesn’t work at all, try performing system image backups. These will create an image of your system when it’s stable and performing smoothly so you can restore your machine to that state in case it runs into problems. Windows 7 already has a function for you to create system repair disks and images. Just type ‘repair’ or ‘system repair’ in the Start search box and follow the instructions to create a repair disk.
To create system images, type ‘back up’ in the Start search box.
Click on Create a System Image on the left of the window.
You’ll be prompted to choose somewhere to save your system image so you can start saving the backup. To restore image backups, read this.
If you would rather reinstall Windows, read Jorge’s guide for reinstalling without losing your data.
Additional Consideration: Make Sure Restore Points Are Being Created
Just to be on the safe side, check regularly that restore points are being created because the last thing you want is to find out your System Restore function doesn’t work after your computer has gone awry. Type ‘rstrui’ in the Start search box. Click Next on the dialog and on the next screen, make sure there are recent restore points.
How do you deal when System Restore is not working? Let us know in the comments!
Photo credit: Shutterstock