How to Fix System Restore Not Working on Windows

System Restore Not Working Featured

System Restore is a handy Windows tool to create a safe state to return to before making significant changes to your system. System Restore takes a snapshot of your critical system files and registry, allowing you to go back to a stable state if something goes wrong. But when System Restore doesn’t work as intended, and you aren’t able to create restore points, things can quickly get frustrating. This guide includes a few simple fixes to resolve System Restore not working on Windows.

1. Check Group Policy

This may sound obvious, but the reason System Restore is not working could be that it’s been disabled in the Group Policy Editor. You may be scratching your head trying to make it work, not knowing that it was disabled in the settings. Follow these steps to turn it on again.

  1. Type “Group Policy” in the Windows search bar and click on “Edit group policy.”
  2. Navigate to “Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> System Restore.”
Navigating to System Restore in Group Policy.
  1. Double-click on “Turn off Configuration” and check whether the “Disabled” option is selected. If yes, change it to “Not Configured.” Click “Apply,” then “OK.”
Setting "Turn off Configuration" option in Group Policy to "Not configured."
  1. Perform the same check for the “Turn Off System Restore” entry.
  2. Check whether System Restore is working and whether you can create a new restore point.

Tip: learn how to reset Group Policy settings if you need to.

2. Check the Volume Shadow Copy Service

The Volume Shadow Copy service (VSS) allows System Restore to create snapshots of the files it needs to create restore points. If this service is not running or disabled for any reason, System Restore won’t be able to create a restore point.

Ensure that the Volume Shadow Copy service is running properly with the following steps:

  1. Type “services.msc” in the Windows search bar and select “Services” from the search results.
  2. Find “Volume Shadow Copy” in the list and double-click it.
Finding "Volume Shadow Copy" entry in Services app.
  1. If “Startup type” isn’t already set to “Automatic,” do so. Also, press “Stop” to halt the service, then “Start” to restart it.
Setting "Startup type" to "Automatic" in Volume Shadow Copy properties.
  1. Click “Apply,” then “OK” to save your changes.
  2. Check whether you can create a restore point.

3. Re-Register VSS Components

If you’re still facing the error after restarting the Volume Shadow Copy service, try to re-register VSS components to fix the issue. These components allow VSS to function normally. Follow the steps below to re-register these components:

  1. Type “cmd” in the Windows search bar, right-click “Command Prompt,” and select “Run as administrator.”
  2. Execute the following commands one by one and press Enter after each:
cd /d %windir%\system32
Net stop vss
Net stop swprv
regsvr32 /s ole32.dll
regsvr32 /s oleaut32.dll
regsvr32 /s vss_ps.dll
vssvc /register
regsvr32 /s /i swprv.dll
regsvr32 /s /i eventcls.dll
regsvr32 /s es.dll
regsvr32 /s stdprov.dll
regsvr32 /s msxml.dll
regsvr32 /s msxml3.dll
  1. Once you’ve re-registered the VSS components, try creating a restore point again.

Good to know: get up to speed with how to check your hard disk health in Windows.

4. Ensure You Have Assigned Enough Space

System Restore needs space on your drive to store restore points. If you have not allocated enough space for a particular drive in the System Protection settings, you can encounter an error while creating a restore point.

Follow the steps below to confirm that you’ve assigned enough space for System Restore:

  1. Type “restore” in the Windows search bar and click “Create a restore point.”
  2. In the “System Properties” window, switch to the “System Protection” tab. Under “Protection Settings,” select the drive in which you would like to change the settings and click “Configure.”
Clicking on "Configure" button in System Properties.
  1. Using the “Max Usage” slider, assign your desired amount of space.
Assigning disk space using Max Usage slider in System Properties.
  1. Click “Apply -> OK.”
  2. Check whether the System Restore error you were encountering has been resolved.

5. Repair Corrupted Files

System Restore requires access to some system files to function properly. If some essential system files get corrupted, you’re likely to face errors while creating restore points. To fix this issue, run an SFC scan to let Windows automatically identify and fix any corrupted files on your computer.

Once the scan is finished, and the Command Prompt reports that some files were fixed, go back to System Restore and check whether you can create a restore point.

FYI: did you know that you can create a Windows USB installer with Command Prompt? Learn how to do it.

6. Repair Windows Image

If the SFC scan didn’t find any corrupted files on your system, try to repair your Windows image with a DISM scan. This scans your computer and repairs core files related to your Windows installation if they’re damaged. It can resolve the System Restore error if the file is the root cause behind the error.

  1. Type “cmd” in the Windows search bar, right-click “Command Prompt,” and select “Run as administrator.”
  2. Enter the following commands in the Command Prompt window one at a time and press Enter after each:
DISM /online /Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth
DISM /online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  1. Once the scan is finished, restart your computer.
  2. Check whether the error has been resolved.

Tip: did you accidentally delete files or folders on your Windows PC? Learn how to restore them.

7. Create Restore Point in Safe Mode

If none of the fixes above worked for you, try creating a restore point in Safe Mode. In this environment, Windows loads with only the most essential services and drivers, and any conflicts from background processes are eliminated.

  1. Type “sysconfig” in the Windows search bar and select “System Configuration.”
  2. In the “Boot” tab, select “Safe boot” under “Boot options,” then “Minimal” under that.
"Safe boot" options in System Configuration window.
  1. Click “Apply -> OK.”
  2. Restart your computer and boot into Safe Mode automatically. Check whether you’re able to create a restore point.

8. Reset Windows

Your last resort to fix System Restore is to reset your Windows installation. This should resolve all underlying issues preventing System Restore from working properly.

Refer to our guide on how to reset/reinstall Windows without losing your files to easily reset your Windows installation without losing your data.

Once complete, check whether you can create a restore point. If not, you can also try to reinstall Windows from scratch using the same guide.

Tip: getting a “Windows was unable to complete the format” error on your system? Learn how to restore the function of your USB drive or SD card.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use System Restore?

Yes, it’s perfectly safe to use System Restore, as it doesn’t delete any of your data, such as documents, media files, or other applications. It will restore core system files, registry settings, Windows Updates, etc. As long as you didn’t create any new user accounts or program keys after the restore point was created, you can safely go ahead and restore your system.

Is it safe to interrupt System Restore?

Interrupting a System Restore in progress can cause corrupted registry entries or incomplete backup files, which can lead to a failure to boot Windows. You may be forced to reset Windows to factory settings or reinstall Windows from scratch. Hence, it’s recommended to create a system backup before restoring your system to a restore point.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

Tanveer Singh
Tanveer Singh

Tanveer hunts far and wide for PC Hardware, Windows, and Gaming ideas to write about. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he has written extensively on Technology, Gaming, and Marketing. When not scouring the web, he can be found binging on The Office, running for his life in GTFO, or wrecking karts in Smash Karts.

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