What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails
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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 3 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working 3 Things to Check When Your System Restore Is Not Working System Restore could save you from a PC disaster. But what if it failed you? Check the following options before reinstalling Windows from scratch. Read More 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.

Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10

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.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails 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

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. System Restore issues are usually alleviated by trying again in Safe Mode. This is true for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

How to Boot Into Safe Mode in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

I’ve previously created a video detailing the process for a Windows 10 machine How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode How to Boot Into Windows 10 Safe Mode Safe Mode is an inbuilt troubleshooting feature that allows you to fix issues at the root, without non-essential applications interfering. You can access Safe Mode in various ways, even if Windows 10 no longer boots. Read More .

Here are the instructions, too. The Windows 8/8.1 Safe Mode boot process How To Boot Into Safe Mode In Windows 8 How To Boot Into Safe Mode In Windows 8 In Safe Mode, you can troubleshoot and fix Windows issues. When you enter Safe Mode, Windows loads a minimal environment that ensures a stable system. Read More is extremely similar.

  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 7 Search Tips to Find What You're Looking for in Windows 10 7 Search Tips to Find What You're Looking for in Windows 10 Are you using Windows 10 search to its full extent? We will show you how to customize where Windows searches, handy search parameters, and other shortcuts. Our search tips will turn you into a search... Read More . Select Recovery from the list, then Open System Restore from the Advanced recovery tools menu.

How to Boot 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. 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.
    What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails Windows 7 Msconfig Safe Mode
  1. 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.

Once you’re in Safe Mode, go ahead and type recovery into the Start Menu search bar 7 Search Tips to Find What You're Looking for in Windows 10 7 Search Tips to Find What You're Looking for in Windows 10 Are you using Windows 10 search to its full extent? We will show you how to customize where Windows searches, handy search parameters, and other shortcuts. Our search tips will turn you into a search... Read More . Select Recovery from the list, then Open System Restore. Follow the on-screen instructions.

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

The next System Restore fix to try is adjusting the hard disk space allocation. Your System Restore point storage allocation might have filled, and Windows might have conveniently forgotten to tell you (classic Windows!). I would recommend allocating at least 4GB. Each major Windows 10 update weighs in at around 4GB (major meaning Creators or Fall 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 ).

Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

Let’s take a look at your current System Restore data allocation. Type system protection into the Start Menu search bar and select Create a system restore point. Select Configure. Check your Disk Space Usage. If it is less than or equal to 300MB, increase it.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails Windows 10 System Protection

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.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails 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% to over 5%.

Clearing Out Old System Restore Points

System Restore manages your restore points. It deletes old points, creates new points, and manages that within the allocated disk space. But if you do want to delete old System Restore points, (especially if you have a large amount of allocated storage), I’ll show you how to do that.

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:

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails 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.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails 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 Windows Creates System Restore Points

Okay, this won’t entirely help you if your restore points aren’t working — but next time, you’ll be thankful.

Is your System Restore turned on? Is Windows actually creating restore points at each major update and installation? If they’re not even there to begin with… you’re going to have a bad time.

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.

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 to check Turn on system protection.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails 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.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails Windows 7 system restore turn on off

5. Reinstall, Reset, and Repair

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 please back up any important files first!)

Windows 7 users are limited to reinstalling or repairing. The Repair Your Computer option is found in the Advanced Boot Options menu.

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.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails window 10 reset

Press Windows Key + I The Ultimate Windows 10 Shortcuts & Gestures Collection The Ultimate Windows 10 Shortcuts & Gestures Collection Windows 10 includes a wealth of shortcuts and gestures for getting around using your touchpad, touchscreen, or keyboard. Here's a big collection! Read More , 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 Settingsand will remove your Windows apps.

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

Windows 7

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

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails 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.

What to Do When Windows System Restore Fails Windows 7 repair install

Alternatively, try a Linux Live CD/USB recovery or rescue disc. Here are five of the best rescue disks to restore Windows 5 Best Rescue Disks For A Windows System Restore 5 Best Rescue Disks For A Windows System Restore Every Windows user should be aware of at least one bacon-saving, data-recovering system restore disk. It can help you access your computer to make repairs and backups, even when it won't boot. Read More !

How to Fix System Restore and Recover Your System

When System Restore fails, and you’re left floundering for a solution, don’t worry! One of the methods we have listed will coax System Restore back to life on a Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10 PC. Just remember:

  1. Try an alternative System Restore point.
  2. Run System Restore from Safe Mode.
  3. Configure your disk space usage.
  4. Use Reset, Refresh, or Repair to revive your system files.
  5. Double-check whether Windows creates System Restore points when it should.
  6. Create regular system backups.

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 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 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 .

Did one of our tips get your System Restore moving again? Or did you find another fix we haven’t covered? However you restore your system, let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Tommy
    September 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I had a restore failure also but safe mode did it! Thanks a lot for the tip! Finally, something someone knows about!!! And as a thank you, I'm sharing this forum with my friends!

  2. Larry Roberts
    January 17, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    I tried to use windows 10 system restore point (twice, a manual restore point and an automated one), the restore points came up with a failed message, and my system was left untouched!.

    Luckily I was able to solve the problem I was having (computer freezing at BIOS) by installing new drivers (with a free driver update program)!.

    However, this doesn't instill me with confidence for the future. If something goes wrong with my computer again, I now know I can't rely on system restore to get me out of the mess and Back Up and Restore seems to be pretty useless as well!.

    I know that Windows Defender is unable to comprehensively defend against threats but I thought I could rely on Restore to get me out of a pickle!. Now that isn't true any more!.
    This is most unsatisfactory!.

    Years ago I used to use a progam called 'Go Back' untill that let me down as well!. Does anyone know of a reliable recovery program?!. Thanks!.

  3. DonaldJ
    January 12, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Greetings Chris..

    I am experiencing a hellish problem trying to get into a Focus tablet someone gave me free.. They forgot the password.. I have the CD that supposedly gets you into creating a new front-end password, but it just won't get me to a dos command line.. I just can't get a command line showing.. I've tried the factory reset button with shift.. It does same as the CD, almost nothing.. I asked two so called experts.. They tell me you can't change a lost password in a Surface Windows 10, that it's just too protected..
    This is an expensive toy.. I would really really like to get it usable.. How do you force-change the windows-10 user password in a Surface tablet..?

  4. Sean
    December 4, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I agree,lifesaver.Cheers guys.

  5. Sarah
    November 12, 2016 at 7:39 am

    LIFESAVER!!! This is what this website is!! Your articles on partitioning external flash drives and using system restore successfully were the only sites that ACTUALLY WORKED for me. I'm totally subscribing!!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  9. 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?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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).

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

    I recently performed a system recovery/reformat...now 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 well...now 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....

  20. 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.

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

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

  22. 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 .

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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...

  33. 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......

  34. 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

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. 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

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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!