What Does System Restore Do in Windows?

Featured System Restore In Windows 10

System Restore is a handy feature to return your Windows PC to an earlier point in time. This can be a big lifesaver in many situations and is considered best practice to create a number of system restore points from time to time. While useful, System Restore can have a tangible impact on your Windows system, mainly due to installation failures or data corruption in a previous state. Here we will find the best approach to use System Restore by sizing up its full impact on a Windows system.

What Does System Restore Do?

System Restore creates a snapshot of your working system so you can restore to it in the future if anything happens to your PC. This is quite useful in cases when a recently installed program, game or app causes the system to run poorly, crash frequently, or trigger unexpected delays. Using a restore point will remove any applications and drivers that were installed after the restore point was created.

System Restore Delete Restore Points

Creating a series of restore points on your PC is an insurance against unexpected failures. Some disk space on your Windows computer (2-4%) should be allocated for restore point requirements. As the space fills up, older restore points are deleted to make room for newer ones.

How to Open System Restore?

In Windows, you can access the option from the Start menu in Taskbar by clicking “Create a Restore point.”

System Restore Confirm Restore Point Start Menu

To enable System Restore, click the relevant icon in the popup window. In Windows 10, System Restore is turned off as a default and must be enabled by the users for it to work properly.

You can also open System Restore from the Command Prompt in Administrator mode using the following:

System Restore Open Command Prompt

It must be kept in mind that only the rstrui.exe file in the “C:\Windows\System32” folder is trustworthy, and any such file elsewhere is malicious. To verify that you’re opening the system restore file from the right location, you can search for the presence of the “rstrui.exe” in System32.

System Restore Rstrui Location

How Can I Create a Restore Point in Windows?

The option to create a restore point is directly visible in Windows as soon as you open the program. You can create a number of Restore points from time to time. Using the Configure option, you can create automatic or daily restore points as needed. Give the restore point a name with a date for quick recollection. If you finished an important update or installed a new program, you can name the restore point after it to keep track in the future.

System Restore Create A Restore Point 2021

It takes just a few seconds for the System Protection menu to create a new restore point on your system.

System Restore Creating Restore Point

Once the restore point is created, you will see a success message: “The restore point was created successfully.”

System Restore Created Successfully Restore Point

How to Restore Files Using System Restore

Once the restore points have been created on your PC, you can initiate a system restore directly from the program wizard.

System Restore System Protection Select

Click “Next” to restore system files and settings.

System Restore Restore Files Settings

While doing a System Restore, you will come across all the states before the selected date. Click the checkbox next to “show more restore points” to view all the restore points on your PC.

System Restore Before State Marked

The automatic restore points are arranged neatly date-wise, and you can select the required event for further action. Your PC discards old Restore points automatically to save volume on the disk, but you may choose to provide more space to this activity.

Once all the restore points are visible, select the one you want your PC to be restored to. If you have a bug or bad installation in your PC, just choose the most recent date, which can even be within the same hour.

System Restore Total List Of Restoration Points

Confirm your restore point for ensuring a manual restoration and click “Finish” to finalize the system restore activity.

System Restore Confirm Restore Point Final

You will get a warning that once system restore is started, it can’t be interrupted again, as the PC will restart. Click “yes” to proceed.

System Restore Confirm Restore Point Warning
System Restore Prepare To Restore Your System

How Long Does System Restore Take?

Depending on the number of files on your system and the complexity of any programs to be removed, System Restore can take variable amounts of time. On average, if the restore point was just a few days ago, you should be able to complete the entire activity within 25 to 40 minutes.

To get an idea of what you’re getting into, do a scan beforehand of all affected programs and drivers before hitting OK. Once you have an overview of the programs that will be affected, confirm the restore point to proceed. The system will restart only once to complete the procedure.

System Restore Scanning For Affected Programs Drivers

Once the system restore has initialized, you need to wait for a while and cannot interrupt the process. The System will now restart, and you will see the following message: “Please wait while your Windows files and settings are being restored. System Restore is initializing.”

System Restore Initializing

If the activity is consuming too much time, you may have to give it a generous break, as there may be many files it has to fix first. This is especially true if your PC is in safe mode. However, in a normal mode, you can always cancel the system restore using your computer power button.

After the computer restarts, you will see a “system restore completed successfully” message with the date and time of restoring.

System Restore Successful Message

Does System Restore Delete Files?

System Restore, by definition, will only restore your system files and settings. It has zero impact on any documents, pictures, videos, batch files, or other personal data stored on hard disks. You don’t have to worry about a potentially deleted file. It will also not affect the standard programs you have been using for a long time.

Only the recently installed programs and drivers can be uninstalled. Its task is to repair the Windows environment by reverting to the previous configuration that was saved in the restore point.

Before activating the System Restore option, an option is given to review the programs that will be affected. The only items that will be deleted are the latest browser updates or a few drivers of new programs that were installed. Windows updates after the Restore Point will be affected by the change, and your system will go back to a previous version.

System Restore Scanning Programs Not Detected

What to Do If There’s Something Wrong with System Restore

If there are any issues with System Restore in a previous Restore point, you will get an error screen after the Restart. To solve this problem, you need to start an Advanced recovery, which can only be achieved through Safe mode.

System Restore Failure

To run System Restore in Safe mode, go to “Start -> Change Advanced Startup Options -> Advanced Startup -> Restart Now.”

System Restore Advanced Startup

This will take you to a blue screen where you can now perform System Restore in Safe mode. This is much faster than the normal PC mode, but remember you cannot interrupt the process at all. There’s no extra benefit of starting System Restore in Safe mode, and the normal steps should be preferred.

System Restore Advanced Startup Screen

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is System Restore bad for your computer?

No. As long as you have a well-defined restore point on your PC, System Restore can never affect your computer.

2. What are the disadvantages of a System Restore?

System Restore will only restore your PC to the most recent settings that you think were stable. It also comes at a price: any new user accounts and program keys that you created after the restore point will be deleted forever. It’s better to make a backup of your important data first, before you do a system restore.

3. What are the alternatives to System Restore in Windows?

System Restore is not a magic wand to remove all your PC problems. For that, you should consider a clean install of Windows. This is the best alternative, as it will wipe everything clean for a new experience.

System Restore generally comes in handy when you run into problems such as the ‘Bad System Config Info’ error or a malfunction in the Settings app. It helps you get rid of any unknown entity that infects your system. It’s a time-tested and frequently-used tool to go back to a definite state of optimal health for your PC or laptop.

Sayak Boral Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over ten years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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