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When your computer works smoothly, don’t you wish it would always stay this way? Even if you exercise caution with the programs you download, regularly perform defragmentation and do other things to ensure your system runs at its best, problems may still arise without warning.

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.

system restore not working

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.

system restore does not wor

Now click on the Configure button and move the slider in the next dialog.

system restore does not wor

system restore does not wor

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.

system restore disabled

Now click on More Options, and then on Clean up.

system restore disabled

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.

system restore disabled

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.

You can also use Clonezilla Clonezilla - Free Advanced Hard Drive Cloning Software Clonezilla - Free Advanced Hard Drive Cloning Software Read More , Paragon’s Drive Backup Express How to Prepare Yourself for System Restore From Scratch How to Prepare Yourself for System Restore From Scratch Read More or any of the excellent 5 tools in this list 5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive 5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive Read More .

If you would rather reinstall Windows, read Jorge’s guide How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data Using this option allows you to reinstall Windows without losing the files, personal data and programs you already have on the system. Read More 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.

system restore not working

How do you deal when System Restore is not working? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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  1. Robert
    January 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Starting in the safe mode worked for me. Thank you very much!

  2. Xiaodong Fan
    September 23, 2016 at 1:59 am

    It is a good article and helpful for many people, thanks!

  3. Turik
    August 9, 2016 at 12:34 am

    Great ideas, IF you can get Windows to boot.
    But what if System Restore doesn't fix the issue and no restore points or image files are available? (Booting in Safe Mode also resulted in unsuccessful System Repair attempt)

  4. Helen Greene
    July 18, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Thank you so much for solving my problem. I have been trying to reset my windows laptop since 3 days. Finally your solution found effective for me.
    Helen Greene:

  5. Anatole
    May 19, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Your the greatest! Other sites want you to download install and run a fix tool for it. No need at all, I discovered that because of one of these tools I got a virus that I successfully removed with Malwarebyt Anti malware that disable, among other things, my ability to restore. It had changed my restore options to: Turn off system protection and max usage to 0 (zero)! It was a very hard and sneaky malware virus that removed also bookmarks, phone numbers from my contacts in Hotmail, several files and explorer behavior. I'm happy that I removed it and fixed all damage caused. I believe, thank to you now the last issue with restore. Thank you so much and lets be carefull out there! I only trust sites that show you step by step what you can do and never ever will I use any fix tolls available out there. Good chance they have pretty nasty malware in it!

  6. kyle
    March 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    My HP Presarion CQ60-615DX with original windows 7 home edition was corrupted can boot up... I called Microsoft for help and they asked me to use a home 7 edition from other computer to reinstall it then recover the system from the original D:/recovery... make the story short... after install windows 7 and now my computer is not genuine any more.

    I called Microsoft back and they transferred me to Microsoft in Thailand. After troubleshooting with them for hours... they want me to purchase a new windows 10 for $100 for my old computer. I think this is a bad deal....please help!

  7. dorf
    November 18, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    windows 7 system restore Disk Space Usage slider not working.(move, but goes always to: 0)

    System restore point can be made but it can not use, in safe mode ( there is no system protection tab), normal mode gives error.

  8. Stan TheObserver
    November 9, 2015 at 5:23 am

    I need to tell the world! I used SR 4 times,various dates. Nothing worked,nothing would download. Mozilla wouldnt open,only IE.
    So, I tried de fragging using logistics defragger. THEN I ran System Restore.. Presto! it worked!...old photos that had been deleted were back!

    I dont know what I had- it wouldnt even let me do ANY thing including desktop background- just blue. This went on for a week getting worse by the day.

    I havent read anything like this on the net. I cant get over it. I thought this Dell was dead and I was screwed.
    A miracle!

  9. Javier Moreno-Pollarolo
    June 18, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Oh I'm struggling with this one hard. I even did the repository reset, the volume shadow copy, and NOTHING. Now, I wonder if system restore itself conflicts with the Backup creation service...

  10. Robert
    April 6, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Oh thank you so much for that. My system crashed and reverted the OS to Japanese but the keyboard stayed in English so I was limited to what I could type into the Start menu.

    Safe Mode restart then an earlier restore worked for me. That saved me hours of ballache.

  11. Jamie
    March 31, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I used system restore and it said it was successful, but the bad image message still came up after I restarted my computer. Now what?

  12. vishwesh
    March 4, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Same problem here gursharan do u find any solution?

  13. Gursharan Pannu
    February 27, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    It shows '' there was unexpected error in property page
    The volume shadow copy service used by system restore is not working
    .for more information view the event log (0*81000202)
    Please close property page and try again"

  14. Rico
    February 23, 2015 at 9:17 am


  15. Jimmy Addison
    February 2, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I stumbled across this page, looking for solution to a problem. I was doing a restore to an earlier date, and it did not restore. I tried another date, and it did not work. I tried 3 different dates. I uninstalled my Microsoft Essentials, and that did not work. I tried in safe mode, and that did not work. I am at a loss on how to solve this problem, without doing a full recovery. Can someone help me?

  16. Tina
    April 22, 2011 at 2:05 am


    this is a very challenging question that doesn't quite fit here. You should ask it over at MakeUseOf Answers, where tech experts will help you solve the issues you're experiencing.