How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It

Ryan Dube 12-10-2012

windows system restoreSo, you’ve just discovered that your computer is infected with some virus that automatically reboots your computer every time it starts up. Your local IT guy tells you to just boot the computer into safe mode and run System Restore.


You race home with the little scrap of paper upon which you’ve scribbled his set of system restore instructions How To Fix Your PC Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7 Read More , and proceed to boot your computer and launch a restore. Confident that you’ve discovered the solution, and that this nightmare of an infected computer will soon be over, you finally make your way into the system restore utility and discover to your great dismay that your computer has absolutely no system restore points to choose from.

How could this happen? How could you have gone for so long without realizing that your computer wasn’t bothering to take automatic restore points? It’s actually easier than you think, and happens far more often than people realize.

System restore is not an automatic feature in Windows 7. Usually it is enabled when you’ve purchased a new system, but after running updates, installing system tools or running any other list of tasks that might turn it off – you could very well be running your computer without any restore protections whatsoever.

So, how can you be absolutely certain that your Windows system restore utility is working as intended? Read on.

How to Verify and Configure Windows System Restore

Checking whether System Restore is active sounds like a simple thing – and for the most part it is – but there are a lot of different ways to check whether it’s doing what you think it’s doing. Maybe it’s installed and running, but taking system restore points at intervals that are much further apart than you realized?


The first thing to do, right off the bat, is take a look at System Restore in the Control Panel.

Just click on the Start button and go to All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore.

windows system restore

It will look like you are entering into the utility to take a system restore point, but just click next so that you can get into the utility to see a history of all past system restore points.


windows system restore works

On the next screen, you’ll see a list of date/time combinations of recent restore points. What you want to see is a frequent entry with a Description of “Automatic Restore Point”. Scroll down and see how often these Automatic Restore Points are taken. Does it seem to be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or none at all? Make sure that the frequency of restore points is what you expect so that you’re not left with a nasty surprise later on when you really need to restore your computer.

windows system restore works

Click on Cancel – you don’t need to go through with a restore point now (unless you want to, of course).


Is the frequency not at all what you expect? Are you seeing no restore points at all? The first thing to do is check to make sure that system restore is turned on for your computer. To do this, open up Windows Explorer, right click on My Computer and select Properties.

windows system restore works

In the system properties box that opens up,  click on the System protection link in the left navigation bar.

how does windows system restore work


Make sure that “Protection” is “On” for the Local Disk (typically the C drive).

how does windows system restore work

If protection is off, make sure to click on the drive and then click the “Configure” button. This will allow you to enable system restore. The standard option is to have each system restore include all system settings and the previous versions of files at the point that the system restore was taken.

how does windows system restore work

If you want to take frequent restore points, then make sure that you adjust the maximum disk space used for system protection to a higher maximum usage. The last thing you want is for system restore to fail because you didn’t allocate enough memory for those restore points.

So, is system restore enabled, but you’re unsure how frequent the restore points are being taken? You can check that in the Task Schedule. Go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Task Scheduler.


How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It systemrestore8

In the task scheduler, look through running tasks for one named “SR”. When you open this task, you should see that the location points to Windows\SystemRestore\

How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It systemrestore9

Click on the “Triggers” tag to see the what triggers the task. This should include a timed frequency. In my case I have system restore running both daily and whenever the system boots. This may actually be overkill – a daily restore point should be more than enough, and even weekly would be fine in most cases.

How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It systemrestore10

Another way to see the frequency of past restores is by clicking on the History tab for this task. In here, you’ll see all the past executions. This is actually a good place to go to troubleshoot any failed restores or to see that your regularly scheduled restore points are being taken as you think they are.

How To Make Sure Windows System Restore Works When You Need It systemrestore11

By the way, while you’re at it, why not manually take a system restore point now just to be safe? To do this, right click on My Computer, click Properties, and click on System Protections. The “Create” button on that window will pop up the following window, where you can create a restore point right now.

windows system restore

Take a manual restore point before any major software install or system update, so that you can rest assure that if anything goes horribly wrong, you always have that lifeline to fall back on. It’s simply the right thing to do. And if you’ve followed this guide and finally know that your restore points are being taken as well as their frequency, you can sleep at night knowing that if your computer crashes and you need to look back for those windows system restore points – they’re going to be there when you need them the most.

Do you have any system restore horror stories? Did you follow this guide and discover your system isn’t taking restore points? Share your feedback and thoughts in the comments section below!

Image Credits: The computer, a laptop, a site via Shutterstock

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, System Restore, Windows Task Scheduler.

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  1. Stan
    January 5, 2017 at 5:38 am

    The system scheduler on my Windows 7 machine is enabled and, according
    to the task history, the system restore point task takes place several
    times according to the triggers I set up. However, none show up in the
    System Restore points listing.
    I have also tried several registry changes recommended online to fix the
    issue but got same results. What is the problem?

  2. andy
    February 3, 2013 at 2:06 am

    i have no System Restore points on Windows 7 ..the c/program drive is turned on & have followed your tips up until the Task Scheduler where it doesn't show any 'SR' tasks in the general running or nothing in the History section etc.. i do not have clue how to turn this on or create the SR so that it runs regular like yourselfs..please could you explain what to do if you, like me, don't see 'SR' in your running Task Scheduler. Thank You for your kind help!.. Andy

  3. Anonymous
    October 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Old restore points eat a lot of space

  4. Tom Bogan
    October 18, 2012 at 4:41 am

    Great information. I have to get my co-workers to see this.

  5. kumar raja
    October 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Nice one I will try to do this in my system

  6. Zhong Jiang
    October 15, 2012 at 2:13 am

    System restore failed to modify my settings due to a/v interruption despite that I've disabled it and it worked only for detection of hardware.

  7. Yvonne
    October 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Why does MS make it so difficult to find the system restore option? I frequently download/install programs to test, and most of them later get uninstalled. I always make a system restore point before (a) installing, and (b) uninstalling. To make life simpler, I've put a link on my desktop to rstrui.exe (the Windows module in question). I also use ERUNT, the third-party Emergency Recovery Utility, which is free. If I need to restore my system later, at least I have two options. The only drawback is ending up with scores of restore points. The oldest ones will be quite useless, are needlessly filling up disk space, and have to be pruned from time to time.

    For data backup, I use the free program SyncBack which I have scheduled to automatically back up once a day to two separate external media.

  8. Altra Attestor
    October 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This helped me to understand because I never understood before.

  9. Adrian Rea
    October 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    A very useful and reassuring article. I will try this all out later to check that my restore is solid.

  10. Ah San
    October 13, 2012 at 6:30 am

    thank for the guide for system restore,saved page and learn it,can make system restore in future.

  11. Jacob Mathew
    October 13, 2012 at 5:20 am

    I keep a separate partition and an external hard drive to backup my data.Because you never know what is going to happen next.Windows has an ugly way of messing things up.

  12. Samit Tandukar
    October 13, 2012 at 2:11 am

    I use third party software in my laptop i.e., Acronis True Image and in pc I use Easeus Todo Backup

  13. Arron Walker
    October 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I used to worship system restore like a god - when I was younger, i had a horrific habit of bombing XP. System Restore was always there to save the day though. Now I just keep personal data on a separate partition. If everything goes belly up, I just re-install windows, I personally find it to be less hassle. Or Linux if I've not been gaming recently; the change is nice sometimes.

    • Douglas Mutay
      October 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Yeah i use to do the same: a complete separate partition for all my data, drivers and must have software just in case. It's killing to see how easily you can spoil the OS and have to reinstall everything!

  14. Achraf Almouloudi
    October 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Now tell me how it actually works .

  15. Anonymous
    October 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Good luck with this. I would use a 3rd party solution.

  16. Subhom Mitra
    October 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I had the "History" tab in Task Scheduler show "History (Disabled)" and the pane was empty. Any suggestions on hot to turn it back on?

    • Neha
      October 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      Yep it did that on mine as well - you have to click on the 'Enable All Tasks History' - to do this go on the 'History' tab on the SR task and then on the right-hand side, you'll see the 'Enable All Tasks History', just click that and it should work :)

      • Subhom Mitra
        October 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

        Worked. Thanks! Thumbs Up.

        • Neha
          October 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

          You're welcome - glad I could help! ^_^

    • Anonymous
      October 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      What OS are you running?

      • Subhom Mitra
        October 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

        Windows 7 x64

        • Bradley S
          August 14, 2018 at 6:12 pm

          upgrade to 10 before the hackers get you! and make sure once you do, you delete all the old data from 7 so they don't have a backdoor!