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When your computer is running smoothly, we like to imagine that this is the way it will always be. Even though, in our heart-of-hearts, we know that isn’t going to be the case. And even if you’re a cautious user, problems can arise without warning.

In those cases, System Restore is your friend. Lo, it can be your savior. System Restore has saved my bacon on multiple occasions. But what if System Restore has given up on you, too? Before you reach for the nearest Windows installation media, try these tips to see if we can coax System Restore back to life.

1. Run System Restore From Safe Mode

Your first port of call should be Safe Mode. Problems encountered while running System Restore are usually alleviated by trying again in Safe Mode.

First, we need to boot into Safe Mode. There are three easy ways to do this on Windows 10.

  1. Head to Settings > Update & security > Recovery. Under Advanced start-up, select Restart now. This will reboot your system into the Advanced Start-up settings menu. From there, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. On restart, you’ll see a list of options. Select 4 or F4 to boot your PC into Safe Mode (choose 5 or F5 for Safe Mode with Networking).
  2. Press Windows Key + R to open Run. Type msconfig and press Enter. Open the Boot tab. Check the box alongside Safe Mode. If you require Networking, select it from beneath. Once you hit Apply, and close the System Configuration window, you’ll receive a prompt to Restart your system. Please note that your system will continually boot into Safe Mode unless you uncheck the System Configuration option — repeat the same process within Safe Mode once you’re sure you’ve fixed the issue.
  3. Restart your PC. Press F8 during the boot process to enter Safe Mode. This is a tried and tested method. However, if you use Windows Fast Startup feature, spamming F8 will not work. If you can spare the few startup seconds shaved by using Fast Startup, you’ll find the whereabouts of this option in this short, handy guide This Little Tweak Will Make Windows 10 Boot Even Faster This Little Tweak Will Make Windows 10 Boot Even Faster Here's a simple setting you can enable on your PC that will speed up Windows 10's boot time. Read More .

Once you’re in Safe Mode, go ahead and type recovery into the Start Menu search bar. Select Recovery from the list, then Open System Restore from the Advanced recovery tools menu.

If System Restore works in Safe Mode, it is a clear indicator that something, likely a program or service, is impeding it during a regular boot. Antivirus settings can at times cause System Restore to misbehave (for instance, Norton’s Product Tamper Protection is a well-known culprit).

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Alternatively, a virus or malware infection could be creating an issue. In this case, you’ll need to scan your system using an up-to-date antivirus program.

2. Configure Disk Space Usage

If you still cannot get System Restore to run properly, try adjusting the hard disk space allocation. It might have run out without informing you (a classic Windows move).

I would recommend allocating at least 4 GB. Some will say that is overkill. However, I would contend that each major Windows 10 update weighs in at around 4 GB (major update in this case meaning the Creators Update, rather than the regular cumulative updates How to Find Out Every Last Thing About Windows Update How to Find Out Every Last Thing About Windows Update Once a month on Patch Tuesday, Microsoft releases cumulative updates to all Windows users. We'll show you how to gather information about updates and which Windows Update settings you should be aware of. Read More ). On the other hand, you might not want System Restore to take up too much space, especially if you’re already limited.

Let’s check what is going on with your System Restore allocation. Type system protection into the Start Menu search bar, and select Create a system restore point. Select Configure. Check your Disk Space Usage, and increase if it is less than or equal to 300 MB.

Clearing Out Old System Restore Points

You can delete old System Restore points. Ultimately, System Restore updates your System Restore points as it goes, replacing the oldest one each time. (This is why some people allocate lots of space to System Restore.) That said, if you do want to delete your System Restore points, I’ll show you how to do it without wrecking everything.

Type disk clean into the Start Menu search bar. Right-click the best match, and select Run as administrator. Select C: as the drive you’d like to clean, then press OK. Disk Clean-up will calculate the amount of space available for cleaning.

Open the More Options tab. Under System Restore and Shadow Copies, select Clean-up. You’ll meet the following message:

Press Delete if you want to proceed.

This method keeps your last System Restore point in place, whereas hitting Delete on the System Protection panel will eliminate all of them.

3. Ensure System Restore Points Are Being Created

This won’t entirely help solve your current issue, but will absolutely help you next time.

Are System Restore Points turned on? Are they being regularly and automatically created? We can easily check by entering rstrui in the Start M enu search bar and selecting the corresponding entry. Press Next when prompted. You’ll then see a list of your current System Restore points.

Nothing there? You’ll need to head back to the System Protection options we used earlier. Type system protection into the Start Menu search bar and select Create a system restore point. Select Configure. Under Restore Settings, make sure Turn on system protection is checked.

Alternative: Windows 10 Reset

System Restore still not working? Windows 10 introduced a handy new feature that allows you to reset your installation 4 Ways to Reset Windows 10 and Reinstall From Scratch 4 Ways to Reset Windows 10 and Reinstall From Scratch Windows 10 is still Windows, meaning it will need a fresh start every once in a while. We show you how you can get a fresh Windows 10 installation with as little effort as possible. Read More , keeping your personal data files intact. Windows 10 Reset draws on a recovery image already stored on your system to initiate a fresh installation. There is no downloading, and no installation media, either.

Press Windows Key + I, and head to Update & security > Recovery. Under Reset this PC, hit Get started. Select either Keep my files or Remove everything. As we just want to refresh your system, select the former.

Please note that this process resets your Settings How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a full recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it all works now. Read More , and will remove your Windows apps.

Click Reset when prompted, and the actual process can take a few minutes to complete.

How to Fix System Restore and Recover Your System

It can be an excruciating moment when System Restore fails. Don’t panic. One of the methods listed above will coax System Restore back into life, and with it, the rest of your ailing system. Remember:

  1. Run System Restore from Safe Mode.
  2. Configure your disk space usage.
  3. Use Windows 10 Reset to refresh your installation.
  4. Double-check System Restore points are being created.
  5. Create regular system backups.

I cannot stress how important point #5 is. Regularly backing up your system The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide Windows 10 makes data backups effortless. We have summarized every native backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More is incredibly important. There is a reason everyone asks if you’ve backed-up your data.

Are you a backup beast? Or do you let everything slide? Have you ever lost ALL your data? Or did you have a trick to recover everything? Let us know your System Restore tips and tricks in the comments or share this article on Facebook or Twitter to keep the conversation going there!

Originally written by Jessica Cam Wong on 20 April 2011.

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  1. ReadandShare
    June 29, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    In my repeated experiences, it's not that Restore wouldn't run - it did - but it's been a "hit or miss" whether the restoration did any good or not! I've found regular and repeated inconsistencies in Win XP, 7 and now 10. A few times, Restore saved the day; more often, no.

    While I still have Restore feature turned on, I no longer rely on it. Using a third-party system image and restore is so much more reliable - and almost as quick. Macrium (free version) is what I've been using and I highly recommend it.

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

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

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

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

  4. 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)

  5. 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: http://www.osamresume.com/

  6. 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!

  7. 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! k8288@126.com

  8. 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.

  9. Anonymous
    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!

  10. Anonymous
    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...

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

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

    Same problem here gursharan do u find any solution?

  14. 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"

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

    BUY A MAC LOL

  16. 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?

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

    Ikkintelle,

    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.