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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 How To Reinstall Windows 7 Without Changing Your Personal Settings, Installed Programs & Drivers How To Reinstall Windows 7 Without Changing Your Personal Settings, Installed Programs & Drivers Windows has a tendency to accumulate errors and problems over time. While some of this virtual wear and tear can be delayed by rigorous system maintenance and keeping malware at the gate, the time will... Read More 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 How To Recover Deleted Files Using Windows 7's Restore Previous Versions Tool How To Recover Deleted Files Using Windows 7's Restore Previous Versions Tool We all know the importance of backups. If we've it heard once, we've heard it a million times. Always have backups, always save after every change, always use Dropbox (or something similar) to save previous... Read More . 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 The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs Read More 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 What Is The Difference Between A Worm, A Trojan & A Virus? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Difference Between A Worm, A Trojan & A Virus? [MakeUseOf Explains] Some people call any type of malicious software a "computer virus," but that isn't accurate. Viruses, worms, and trojans are different types of malicious software with different behaviors. In particular, they spread themselves in very... Read More – may also prevent System Restore from working.

To bypass these background services, you can start Windows in Safe Mode How To Start In Windows Safe Mode & Its Uses How To Start In Windows Safe Mode & Its Uses Read More 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 How To Reinstall Windows 7 Without Changing Your Personal Settings, Installed Programs & Drivers How To Reinstall Windows 7 Without Changing Your Personal Settings, Installed Programs & Drivers Windows has a tendency to accumulate errors and problems over time. While some of this virtual wear and tear can be delayed by rigorous system maintenance and keeping malware at the gate, the time will... Read More – don’t worry, this isn’t quite as daunting as it may seem.

First, be sure to back up your personal data The Backup & Restore Guide [PDF] The Backup & Restore Guide [PDF] Disasters happen. Unless you're OK with losing all of your data, you need a good backup system. If you know this but haven't got around to setting up backup on your PC, this is the... Read More – 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!

  1. Hank
    September 2, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I had too many issues tying into Windows System Restore, so I ended up replacing it with RollBack Rx. I think Microsoft means well but it's easily corruptible.

  2. Scott
    June 12, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Chris, thanks so much for the article, saved the day! My situation was a recent "accidental/forced" upgrade to Windows 10, followed by many problems with startup and speed. After downgrading back to 8 I had a black desktop screen with only a cursor and fortunately access to control panel (via ctr alt del, then selecting an app and hitting "open file location" to get access to file explorer) it was actually strange that I could run many programs this way, but couldn't get my desktop back. Anyways, the life saver was the tip on doing the refresh from safe mode (shift click + restart) as I had tried a refresh earlier with no effect. Must have been my antivirus (AVG) or something, but either way worked like a charm! Thanks again. On another note, I wish there were some recourse for windows forced upgrade ploy, because our other laptop went through a similar near death experience after the upgrade and had to be reverted...and it was less than a year out of the box with minimal software or modifications...very annoying.

    May 23, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Hey homies I spent 10 hours fixing this issue for anyone who is at BIOS and cant get any further.... First I am a dumbass like you so ill tell you the steps I took to get where i am and dumbys will understand =D. First in your PC on the bottom right as far as you can go, those cables are plugged in and above it is a box with 6 numbers in it. Each of those numbers is where your hard drive/cd rom n shit go....unplug everything and make sure you ONLY plug in your main hard drive and in the 6 (or last slot) is your CDrom.... Now your done with that turn it on, put in your disk and the computer will read that on ur main hard drive I PROMISE. if not that make sure u push f12 to load your drive in boot options....Then when windows disc is in go to the end of it but instead of the custom option click the advanced option. At this point click your hard drive and there should be an option to basically install windows on that hard drive....GG boys!

  4. Kimberly Dunn
    May 11, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I have been running system recovery for the last hour. It's still preparing to install. How do I come out of this with the laptop still intact?

  5. Don Fullman
    April 3, 2016 at 7:18 am

    WHile doing a system restore we lost power and now my drive will not boot. Cannot see any files on the drive after I inserted into another machine. its like my drive lost all its data...ANy suggestions?? Thanks Don

  6. Samuel
    April 1, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I tried doing a system restore but it failed and now keeps restarting randomly. I can enter BIOS but that does nothing and I can also enter the boot menu, but I can't figure anything from there! Please help! My system stuff is: Aspire ZC-107 P12-AO.

  7. Gamel
    March 12, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I have a touch pad problem in my laptop that is while scrolling, my cursor is moving in the inverse direction as expected!! Thus, i have chose to delete my mouse driver and try to instal the old driver version but alas, my laptop windows 10 has been crash or corrupted while restarting!. Now, i'm doing a system restore but i'm not sure that this will solve my problem because it is taking much time! ...... I need your help guys!! Is this way good?

  8. Bob
    April 14, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    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.

  9. Danny
    March 14, 2015 at 9:52 am

    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).

  10. Marwan Haddad
    March 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

    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

  11. Blas
    March 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    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.

  12. TLH
    February 21, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    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.

  13. Melba
    February 2, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Pretty interesting stuff, very good information and well written, so hard to find online. there are a lot of sites on 'how to' but I have found they are not clear or don't contain all the info you need to do this yourself. It's 2015 now and I'll see what still works. I have the partition drive but somehow contracted malware or a virus and can't boot my pc up. i can get it into safe mode and full recovery but i would rather try restore. i use the cloud dropboxes as another mentioned and have found those to be a godsend in terms of ensuring life isn't over when your pc dies.

  14. KC
    March 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    I recently performed a system recovery/ I cant access windows and I can't get past the screen that keeps telling me to reboot...I went into start up am changed to CD and tried that way...still nothing
    .I went into bios to force CD start up...un successful as mu computer just keep wanting me to F11 start recovery...yet again for the 100th time or restart for the 100th time...I've read and read and read on the internet and to no avail...I have an emachine T6532....if ANYONE can help, please email me....

  15. Ray
    October 31, 2012 at 1:40 am

    5 years ago in Germany I buy a hp Compaq Presario CQ60-130EG Laptop, during move to USA the backup Disk has damage, now I format my hard driver and tried to recovery my Laptop to Factory delivery, the vista program recovery but at end shows this message,
    The installation could not be completed; they start the installation again to install windows on this computer, I tried much time still the same Message, could you please help me how can solving this problem,

    Thanks for your help

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      If you can get your hands on a Windows installation disc and install Windows from that, that should work for you.

  16. Altra Attestor
    October 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I often fail melakukannya.tapi I will try this mode.

  17. Rody Roon
    October 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Nice Information but there are an another option too for secure your data or restore your data from a professional restore software as i know one of them it is Kernel for Window data recovery to restore data after any problem occurred of lost data .

  18. Victor
    September 23, 2012 at 12:58 am

    I used to have windows live. Used to sign in no problems. One dat i went my bookmarks to direct me to hotmail but i couldnt login? I tryed and tryed. ,well 1 i didnt have the reqirments to login. I have an unsuppored phone and its hard for me to do anything on da web. Pls help

  19. Michael Avila
    September 21, 2012 at 6:21 am

    hmm never tried safe mode and went through many failed restores where everything got deleted thanks for the info now im prepared for my next crash.

  20. Alan Wade
    September 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

    My system is set to backup with an image backup every other day so I dont use System Restore at all in the event of a problem. I also have my documents, email profile and FF profile backup independently, in the past, I couldnt say that I was successful with System Restore so just dont waste space having it activated.

  21. Suman Kc
    September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    When system restore fails there is very few chances of getting another restore point so that we could restore again so better solution would be you need to repair your windows with windows installation media ..... this helps you to repair your system without loosing your files

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Yeah, also not a bad idea!

  22. Rich Mc.
    September 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I guess I have been lucky enough to not have system restore not work....If I did have a problem I would just use a backup to fix.

  23. Becky Bowman
    September 19, 2012 at 1:51 am

    System Restore hasn't worked on my computer for a year. I had everything backed up to an external hard drive, but it crashed and I can't get anything off of it. I've never done an image back up. Can I pick and choose what to restore or is it all or nothing? I have many programs that I've received free (Give away of the day) but can't reinstall to another computer. Would an image backup solve this?

    • GrrGrrr
      September 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

      Image backup - Yes- it brings back ur complete system.

      What do u actually mean when u say "System Restore hasn’t worked on my computer for a year"?

      Did u try restoring and it failed or what?

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Yeah, image backups are good -- although if your system is already messed up, you may not want to keep using that image forever. Backing up personal files is the most essential thing.

  24. Siddhant Chaurasia
    September 19, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Use a Mac!

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Then you might have to read "What To Do When Time Machine Fails," I guess.

  25. GrrGrrr
    September 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    System Restore also roll backs ur documents.

    It happened with me in XP.
    I had some documents created and saved on desktop. Sue to some issue I had to do system restore. When system came back online, the documents were no more there.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      A good reminder to back up personal files (the most important thing), if not the operating system itself.

  26. Ray Randall
    September 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    forget about Windows fixing itself....Keep good backups, reinstall WIndows periodically, reinstall software you actually use, transfer data from backup.

  27. Akram Najjar
    September 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    (Agree with ANOMALY!). If your requirement is to go back to an earlier "state" then the above are not solutions. An earlier restore point defeats the purpose. Safe mode does not do that. Re-installing Windows means you have to do everything all over again.
    Best technique: Take an image backup on a regular basis (weekly). It takes an image of ALL your system (including settings, registry, etc). Products like MACRIUM REFLECT, NORTON GHOST and 10s of others do that. MACRIUM has saved my neck many times, even when I lose a file or a DLL or I simply give up and wish to go back 1 week in my work. ALL THE BEST.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      You should ideally have a backup, but if you're depending on System Restore, you may not...

  28. raj gopal
    September 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    an even efficient way would be to just back up, my favorite one is acronis true image
    a very good and an effective against these kinds of scenarios......

  29. Noman Fayez
    September 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    sorry to say.............not good enough........

    • Tina
      September 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      What is not good enough and why? Can you suggest any alternatives to Windows System Restore? I'm curious!

      • Akram Najjar
        September 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        Tina: the problem with a System Restore is that it is not documented what it takes a "snapshot" of. You are left guessing as to what it will restore and what it won't. Example: you've spent time configuring a complicated software application. Do we know if restore takes you back to what you've done? I prefer image backup. Restore helps if you are within the hour, ie, if something happens a few hours or even days after restore and you are sure you have not changed anything in the system. Take care

        • Tina
          September 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

          Great point, Akram!

          And I should add that System Restore and Windows Backup are notoriously unreliable or unpredictable. For example Windows may delete restore points at (what it seems like) random. And Windows Backup won't back up all files of a given program, for example Outlook.

          So it's always a good idea to rely on more direct and predictable ways to make backups etc.

        • Chris Hoffman
          September 30, 2012 at 3:13 am

          Good points, but many users don't make regular backups. Windows System Restore is often one of the only solutions.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      What else is there to do? Restore from backups, of course.

      Ultimately, at some point, a full reinstall is the only option. It sucks, but there are no better options.

      • Brandy
        February 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm

        Windows XP won't boot up (keeps looping). I tried safe mode boot up & tried a system restore to no avail. Then I used recovery disks to reinstall, no luck. Whatever has corrupted the OS, won't let the recovery Windows XP do its "setup". And, setup won't run in safe mode on XP. What to do now? HELP
        Thankfully, this is not my laptop, it is a freebie given to my non-tech husband.
        One of the Windows scanner programs from Microsoft showed a virus & a trojan. Names of "Win32/PossibleHostsFileHiJack" & TrojanDownloader:JS/Renos

  30. susendeep dutta
    September 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Most of the time,system restore doesn't works and all the user is left to do is to reinstall the OS.

  31. Manuel Reyes Jr.
    September 18, 2012 at 5:39 am

    System restore in XP is useless so I clone a freshly installed Windows using rsync and save it somewhere. I've already restored my system several times using rsync as well. I type some characters on the terminal and I have Windows good as new in a little while. I'm lazy so I do it this way.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      It's not necessarily useless -- proper backups are better but for the average user's computer without backups, it can fix some problems.

      I know how you feel about System Restore though -- I first encountered System Restore in Windows ME. Windows ME was so terrible that I ignored System Restore for years, even on newer operating systems.

  32. Candy Copeland
    September 18, 2012 at 3:42 am

    This happened to my laptop after it auto downloaded a windows update. Next time I turned it on the screen pictures and icons were all screwed up and I couldn't click to open anything. Not even the start menu worked right. Popped in the rescue disk and not wanting to wipe out my whole disk I opted for trying restore to fix it. Three tries, each a different restore point and each time it acted like it was working only to come back and tell me restore wasn't working! I hadn't done a system image on my external drive in over a year. After trying and trying I had to say yes to restoring the year old system image. Lesson learned, BACK IT UP OR RISK IT ALL! Yes, it's auto scheduled now. LOL

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      That's the thing about backups -- no one starts backing up regularly until they lose a lot of their stuff.

      Same happened to me when I was younger. After losing years of stuff (none of which was really that important, I guess), I started backing up regularly.

  33. Tom Grady
    September 18, 2012 at 3:15 am

    I use Dropbox and Google Drive for all the files that I would need to access within 48 hours of a computer crash. That way, I can still use another computer to get the essentials done. If you can't boot your system, try using a Linux live usb or cd. I have an Ubuntu usb drive that sits in a drawer just in case I need it. Boot into linux and use it to back up all of your files, then re-install Windows.

    I actually re-install my system annually just to clear up all of the junk that Windows tends to accumulate. Backups are fundamental.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Definitely; I do that too. Also helps if you use multiple computers. But Google Drive/Dropbox shouldn't be your only backup, what happens if you lose access to your account? The thought scares me.

  34. Ibrahim Nadir
    September 18, 2012 at 1:56 am

    they say worst option is the best option... the final option is the worst one :P

  35. Swaroop Nunna
    September 18, 2012 at 1:50 am

    I never tried Safe Mode. I tried restoring to another time couple of times and I reinstalled many times :-)

    Next time I will try with safe mode

  36. Richard Steven Hack
    September 18, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Also, if you're using image backups, remember that you need to be doing data backups as well as image backups. If you've not done an image backup in a while, your data will be out of date and over-written when you restore the image. Having a daily separate data backup allows you to make sure your restored data is current.

    This is why I recommend you keep most of your data on a separate partition from the OS and programs. You take image backups of the OS partition periodically, and data backups of the separate data partition daily. Take note that some applications, such as Outlook and Outlook Express, store their data in the C: drive. You can lose your email history if you're not backing that up separately from an image backup.

    It's possible to just take daily image backups but usually that takes longer than backing up data separately, depending on how much data you have. This is another reason to keep your data separate from the OS and programs. If you have a couple hundred gig of data in the image, it's a pain to backup as an image, whereas most data backup programs will incrementally back up just the new and changed files. Some image backup programs, however, can incrementally backup.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      I definitely agree with this.

  37. Richard Steven Hack
    September 18, 2012 at 12:46 am

    System Restore basically just restores the Registry and some other system files. This can be done manually if you actually have a Restore Point available to restore from. Google for the instructions - there are plenty of instructions available. Try this after trying System Restore in Safe Mode but before doing a full reinstall.

    • Sammi Ham
      September 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Also registry cleaners are available.

      • Tina
        September 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

        Funny, I just wrote an article on why not to use registry cleaners. Sure, they are a last resort, but they should not be used routinely. That will get you into more trouble than it's worth.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Huh! I've never thought about that, but it makes sense. Thanks for the tip.

  38. Anomaly
    September 18, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Another option, and the one I would use, is to restore from an image. You should be making images of your drive reguarly just for such a case. Much better than wiping the drive and reinstalling Windows. All programs and settings will be there after the image is restored. You can use any of the third party imaging programs or use Windows 7 built in one.

    • Chris Hoffman
      September 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Certainly, but most consumer backup programs don't really take full images -- well, maybe some do. I probably should've mentioned that. Good catch!

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