How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

system restore intro   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7Have you ever done something on your computer that you kind of wish you hadn’t done? For example, install that program you found on the internet; tried to find a crack to unlock a game you downloaded; or even visited a naughty website; and afterwards your computer went haywire?

Maybe it wasn’t one of those reasons and you just changed a setting on your computer and now it doesn’t work. Whatever you did (or didn’t do), when your computer stuffs up or think you may have a virus, what can you do about it; how do you fix it?


The good thing is that Windows has something called System Restore which allows you to restore your computer to how it was a day before, or even a month before.

So What Exactly is System Restore and What Does It Do?

You have probably first heard about System Restore on Windows XP. What it essentially does is restore your computer to a state that is back in time. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t delete your files. It does delete any programs or .exe files you have such as program installs you might have downloaded.

Using System Restore on Windows XP

Before you use System Restore, you must make sure that it is activated. To do this, simply right click on My Computer and select Properties. In the System Restore tab, make sure System Restore is turned on for all your drives (or at least C: Drive)

System restore XP   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Once activated, your computer will automatically make system restore points regularly or when you install new software.

If you ever run into trouble on your computer, you can then restore your computer back to that stage. To do this, open system restore by going to Start “β€œ> All Programs “β€œ> Accessories “β€œ> System Tools “β€œ> System Restore. Once opened, you should see two or three options to choose from. The first option allows you to restore your computer to an earlier time, and the second option allows you to create a restore point. This is great if you are about to do something that you think may upset your computer. The third option will only appear if you have used System Restore before and this lets you undo the restore if it didn’t fix your problem or made things worse.

System restore XP screen   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

We want to restore our computer, so select the first option and click next.

On the next screen you will be presented with a calendar and all dates that have a restore point will be in bold. Select a recent date and choose a restore point on that date to one that you know your computer was working.

System restore XP screen2   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Once done, select next and agree to the warning message and then press next.

System restore XP screen3   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Your computer will restart and reboot and the program you are having should be fixed. If it’s not, you can go back to a previous date or undo the restore as I mentioned above.

Using System Restore on Windows Vista

To access System Restore, just follow the same steps as in Windows XP Start “β€œ> All Programs “β€œ> Accessories “β€œ> System Tools “β€œ> System Restore.

vista system restore   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Here you can select the latest restore point or choose a different restore point. I would recommend choosing a restore point.

vista system restore2   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

If you want to show all your restore points, click the checkbox on the bottom left. Simple select a checkpoint, press next and agree to the confirmation.

vista system restore3   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Using System Restore on Windows 7

Using System Restore is not much different to using it in Windows Vista.Β  You can access it by going to Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools –> System Restore.

7 system restore   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Simply select a recovery position from the list and click Next and Finish on the next screen.

7 system restore2   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

As I have not used Windows 7 before (apart from the RC and Beta versions), I believe there are a few more options other than System Restore that you can use to help repair your computer. However, most of these require your installation DVD. By reading a post on Microsoft.com, there are a few repair options to choose from which you can access when you press F8 when booting your computer to enter the recovery console. If you want perform a certain recovery option, visit this link for more information.

66b9e3c2 bb67 47bf 802c b753b54bcc19   How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

One final option is to use the Backup and Restore option which can be found at Control Panel –> System and Security –> Backup and Restore. Using this method, you can create a backup image of your computer and restore it at a later date – but this will be for another post.

So I hope you now know how to repair your computer yourself if you ever run into trouble. System Restore is a lifesaver (it has helped me hundreds of times) and could save you a lot of money compared to taking your computer to a local computer repair shop.

If you have any problems about using System Restore or general backup questions, feel free to ask in the comments or at MakeUseOf Answers.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

14 Comments -

tom sirois

Can I use this to “restore” my Dell Inspiron Laptop XP system to it’s initial state of purchase?

Hblair66

No, you need the System Recovery CD(s) or DVD(s) to do that. System Restore only keeps as many restore points as the System Restore Control Panel is set to (default is 10% of each drive that is monitored), and only restores Windows, Program Files, and other select system folders. Back up anything you need to keep before using a System Recovery disc, as *everything* will be erased from your drive(s)!

Jack Cola

Tom, everything that Hblair66 is correct. Thanks again for your comments both of you.

searchlackey

Very informative. I like the content and format.

JMT

Are you serious? Telling people that using system restore will remove a virus, spyware or a rogue program is total horses**t. You clearly haven’t the slightest clue of what “System Restore” does. It is basically an “undo” function and only works on “legitimate” software that causes a problem.

JK III

I read somewhere that system restore can also restore a virus that your anti-virus deleted. This was confirmed many times after I scanned my computer and the only folder infected was “System Volume Information”. Therefore I have disabled this feature.

Jack Cola

Yes, that would most likely be true. But… Say you get the virus on the 15th, remove it on the 17th, and it’s now the 20th, and you restore it back to the 14th using System restore, it will come back. But if you restore your computer back to the 18th, it won’t be there because you already removed it.

fruitgeek.wordpress.com

If its a virus try AVG Rescue CD – make it on another computer.

fruitgeek.wordpress.com

If its a virus try AVG Rescue CD <http: avg-rescue-cd=”” us-en=”” http://www.avg.com=“”>- make it on another computer.</http:>

Jack Cola

To add to your comment, System Restore also deleted .exe files, so it doesn’t have to be in the registry.

So if you download a lot of programs off the internet, but don’t install them, if you do a System Restore, they will be deleted.

Just keep that in mind.

yuregininsesi

I am not trying to say that it will completely remove a virus, but it’s an easy step to do for novice users and may work. Well it has for me a couple of times.

Anonymous

Yeah, Most Malware now infects System Restore… but for software/hardware troubleshooting, ect., it is a great option. That said, it will remove a virus if the System Restore is not infected. Apparently you JMT do not know what it does or have used it before. It wil undo ALL software changes, Malware is just software after all

JMT

Yes.. it is software, but it doesn’t install like a normal program. They hide among random files in temp directories or your windows directory, etc. System restore doesn’t remove individual “files”. It removes programs based on changes they have made to the registry. If the program info isn’t in the registry, then system restore doesn’t know it exists, nor does Windows PERIOD. Infections typically don’t register themselves, therefore cannot be removed by clicking the restore button. The best case scenario is that it might disappear for a day or two, then come right back. The people who write them are smarter than that and clearly smarter than you.

Jack Cola

To add to your comment, System Restore also deleted .exe files, so it doesn’t have to be in the registry.

So if you download a lot of programs off the internet, but don’t install them, if you do a System Restore, they will be deleted.

Just keep that in mind.