What To Do When Windows System Restore Fails

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system restore not workingIf you’re experiencing a problem with your Windows computer, you can try using System Restore, which rolls back system files, program files, and registry information to a previous state. If these files have been corrupted or damaged, System Restore will replace them with good ones, solving your problem. However, in some cases, System Restore may not work properly – you may see an error message or the restore may not fix anything.

There are a few quick things to try that may fix System Restore for you, including running System Restore in Safe Mode, where other applications can’t interfere with it.

Try Another Restore Point

First, try using another restore point. This applies whether you’re seeing an error message while trying to use system restore, or whether you’ve used system restore successfully and it hasn’t solved your problem.

From the System Restore window (click Start, type System Restore, and press Enter to open it), select Choose a different restore point and click Next.

system restore not working

Try to select a system restore point created before you started experiencing problems. More recent system restore points may have been created after the problems with your computer began, so they may not help. To view all available restore points, select the Show more restore points check box in this window.

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system restore failed

Ideally, this will solve your problem. However, if you see an error message – or if System Restore performs a restore operation that doesn’t solve your problem – continue reading the next section.

Use Safe Mode

System Restore works by replacing the system files on your computer with the system files from a restore point. However, some applications – particularly antivirus applications and other types of services running in the background – may interfere with this. Antivirus applications try to protect your system files, so they may prevent System Restore from replacing them. Other types of applications – perhaps even a virus or other type of malware – may also prevent System Restore from working.

To bypass these background services, you can start Windows in Safe Mode and run System Restore from there. In Safe Mode, Windows doesn’t load startup applications and third-party drivers, so they can’t prevent System Restore from working.

To boot Windows in Safe Mode, restart your computer, then press and hold the F8 key while your computer boots. Select Safe Mode in the boot menu that appears and press Enter. (If you don’t see the boot menu, restart your computer and try again.)

system restore failed

Launch System Restore and use it in Safe Mode. After you’re done, restart your computer – it will boot Windows in normal mode.

Reinstall Windows

If System Restore doesn’t even work for you in Safe Mode (remember to try other restore points), its files may have become corrupted. Or, if System Restore works for you but doesn’t fix your problem, you may not have any restore points created before the problem occurred.

Either way, System Restore isn’t going to fix your problem. If you have a problem with your computer that needs to be fixed, you’ll need to restore your computer’s operating system from its restore partition or reinstall Windows – don’t worry, this isn’t quite as daunting as it may seem.

First, be sure to back up your personal data – the reinstall process will generally wipe the files and programs on your hard drive. After you’re sure you have your important files safely backed up, it’s time to perform a restore. There are three possible ways to do this:

  • Most laptops and other computers come with recovery partitions, which you can activate by pressing a special key while booting your computer – consult your computer’s manual for the exact key and instructions.
  • If your computer came with restore discs instead of a restore partition, insert the first restore disc into your computer’s disc drive and restart your computer to get started.
  • If you installed Windows yourself (perhaps you built your own computer or installed a different version of Windows on it), insert the Windows installer disc into your computer and restart the computer.

Follow the instructions that appear on your screen to complete the recovery or reinstall after you start it.

system restore not working

Have you ever run into a problem with System Restore? How did you fix the problem or get your computer back to a working state? Leave a comment and share your experience!

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Comments (52)
  • Bob

    I cannot get system restore to restore anything anymore. I have tried from a normal running, a normal running with Avast turned off, from safe mode, and system restore always fails.
    I have made system image backups when I have reinstalled Windows and set it up like I want it with all programs installed. Now I cannot get Windows to find the image backups even though my file manager shows them on the external USB drive. This is happening on my laptop, but it is also happening on my desktop. System restore fails and Windows cannot find my image backups. I have run out of things to do.

  • Danny

    Hello, i have a big problem.
    My wife’s XP is freezing after a restorepoint.
    Touchpad , keybord and mouse do not work. What can i do ?
    Safemode is not working because i ca’t log on any account. (mouse is blocked).

  • Marwan Haddad

    thank you
    i actually had a problem with restoring my system to a previous point, i just followed your step and finally the problem is solved without loosing any file

  • Blas

    There’s a couple of free programs here if you want to make an image of your current windows OS (before a possible crash).

    I think that Macrium Reflect is American and Easeus Todo is From China. I’ve used Easeus a lot and it always worked for me.



    If you use them, just remember to make sure you also burn a copy of their included recovery disks, so that if your system crashes completely and won’t reboot at all you can still force it to boot with the recovery disk, so you can locate and restore the OS image copy that you made.

  • TLH

    Yesterday, I began a system restore on my windows 7 professional. About 15 minutes later, while system restore was in progress, my antivirus program (Webroot) started a prescheduled scan. I then tried to get Webroot to stop scanning (by accessing it through 1st, the desktop icon, and 2nd, with task manager), but the screen went milky (not blank) and now, 17 hours later, system restore is still “preparing to restore system,” according to the display. The screen is still milky. Should I force a shutdown, or let it keep operating? The antivirus scan typically takes about 24 hours to complete.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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