5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working
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System Restore is a key computer recovery tool. If you’re experiencing a problem with your Windows computer, System Restore can help you roll 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.

System Restore is an excellent tool for many of those unexpected issues. But what about those times when System Restore itself throws up an error message or doesn’t actually fix anything? With a little prior planning, you can ensure System Restore will always have your back in times of need.

1. Try an Alternative System Restore Point

First, try another System Restore point. Something may have corrupted the default restore point during the store process and, as such, won’t boot. Using an alternative point works for a wide range of restore issues.

Type recovery in the Start Menu search bar and select the best match. Select Open System Restore. As you can see in the image below, I only have one System Restore point, meaning I could run into some trouble if this one throws up any issues.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working windows 10 system restore example

However, if your System Restore window has more than one point to choose from, select one before the most recent. You may have to click Show more restore points (not shown above) to see all of your backups. After selecting a restore point, press Next, and follow the on-screen instructions.

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.

2. Run System Restore From Safe Mode

Your first port of call should be Safe Mode.Safe Mode is a lifesaver in many situations How to Solve Most Windows Boot Problems How to Solve Most Windows Boot Problems Is your Windows computer not booting up? It could be because of a hardware, software, or firmware error. Here's how to diagnose and fix these problems. Read More . Unlike the regular boot process, Safe Mode loads a limited range of drivers and files. Problems encountered while running System Restore are usually alleviated by trying again in Safe Mode.

Booting Into Safe Mode in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

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

  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. (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.

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.

Booting Into Safe Mode in Windows 7

The Windows 7 Safe Mode boot process is very similar to the latest version of the operating system. That is, with some slight differences.

  1. 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. (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.)
  2. Restart your PC. Press F8 during the boot process to open the Windows Advanced Boot Options menu. Select Safe Mode or an alternative Safe Mode configuration such as with Networking or with Command Prompt.

After Booting Into Safe Mode

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).

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.

3. 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.

Configuring Disk Space in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

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.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 10 System Protection

Configuring Disk Space in Windows 7

Windows 7 takes us on a slightly longer route. Open your Start Menu, right-click Computer and select Properties. Select System Properties from the left-hand column. Under Protection Settings, select Configure.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 7 Assign System Restore Data

Check your current restore point storage allocation. Windows 7 doesn’t need as much disk space as Windows 8, 8.1, or 10. But if you have the space to spare, as many modern hard drives do, consider increasing from the default 3 percent to over 5 percent.

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.

Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 users should 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:

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 10 disk cleanup delete system restore points

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.

Windows 7 users should type disk clean into the Start Menu search bar and select the first option. In the Disk Cleanup panel, select Clean up system files. This adds a new More Options tab (after a moment or two). Select Clean up… under System Restore and Shadow Copies.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 7 clean up old system restore points

This will delete all but your last System Restore point. Press Delete if you’d like to proceed.

4. 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?

Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

Type rstrui in the Start Menu search bar and select the corresponding entry. Press Next when prompted, and you’ll see a list of your current System Restore points.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 10 check 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.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 10 Turn on System Protection

Windows 7

The Windows 7 version is minutely different. Head to Computer > System Protection. On the System Protection tab, select Configure. Make sure Restore system settings and previous versions of files is checked. Apply and OK.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 7 system restore turn on off

5. Reinstall, Reset, or Repair Windows

This is where the options between Windows 7 and modern Windows versions diverge. Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 users can either Refresh or Reset their installation files 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 . This process usually clears any lingering issues relating to system files. Furthermore, with additional options as to what files are refreshed or reset, you do not lose any important data. (But back up any important files first!)

Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 users can choose to either Refresh or Reset their operating system.

  • Refresh (Windows 8): reinstalls Windows, keeping personal files and settings intact.
  • Reset: reinstalls Windows but deletes files, settings, and apps, except for those that came with your PC.
  • Reset with Keep My Files (Windows 10): reinstalls Windows from the Recovery Drive, keeping files, settings, and apps intact

Windows 8 Refresh featured evolved into Windows 10 Reset with Keep My Files. They perform the same restoration process.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working window 10 reset

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.

Note that this process resets your Settings and will remove your Windows apps.

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

Windows 7

Windows 7 users are limited to reinstalling or repairing.

Press F8 during the boot process to enter the Advanced Boot Options menu. Select Repair Your Computer from the top of the list. Follow the on-screen instructions.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working windows 7 advanced boot menu

If the Advanced Boot Menu repair option fails (or isn’t there), revert to your Windows 7 installation media, or a system repair disc.

If you have installation media or a system repair disc, insert the disc or USB drive into your PC. Start your system, and select Press any key to boot from CD. If you’re using a USB drive, there is a chance you’ll have to specifically choose to boot from a USB drive. Some manufacturers have a specific function key to enter a quick boot option menu, while others require you to enter the BIOS. Check your manufacturer specifications.

When you arrive at the Welcome to Startup screen, select Repair Install, and follow the on-screen instructions.

5 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working Windows 7 repair install

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. Try an alternative System Restore point.
  2. Run System Restore from Safe Mode.
  3. Configure your disk space usage.
  4. Ensure Windows creates System Restore points when it should.
  5. Use Reset, Refresh, or Repair to revive your system files.

Do you routinely prepare system backups? Regularly backing up your system The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide We've summarized every 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 The Windows Backup and Restore Guide The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More .

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  1. Ganesh Gakkad
    August 20, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    Windows 10 system recovery is a hit or miss which Microsoft been figuring out since last 20+ years. Only good OS that came from Microsoft was XP. My experience keep your important file backed up or keep in cloud ( not so confident about Microsoft cloud drive , using dropbox)

  2. 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.

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

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

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

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

  5. 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)

  6. 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/

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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...

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

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

    Same problem here gursharan do u find any solution?

  15. 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"

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

    BUY A MAC LOL

  17. 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?

  18. 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.