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System Restore FAQ

Q.1. What is System Restore?

Q.2. How to open or start System Restore?

Q.3. How to open or start System Restore from the Run command box?

Q.4. What are the other  ways to start System Restore?

Q.5. If I restore to a point before a program was installed, will System Restore remove the program?

Q.6. What is restored and what is not restored when performing a System Restore?

Q.7. If I don’t want System Restore to monitor a particular drive, how to do that?

Q.8. How can I see how much disk space System Restore has used?

Q.9. How can I control the disk space, which System Restore uses?

Q.10. Why isn’t System Restore creating automatic Restore Points?

Q.11. Why doesn’t System Restore work on my computer?

Q.12. Can a virus be stored in a Restore Point?

Q.13. How much disk space is used by System Restore?

OR

What are the disk space requirements for using System Restore?

Q.14. When are the Restore Points created?

Q.15. Can I delete the Restore Points which I don’t need?

Q.16. Why are my Restore Points missing?

Q.17. Does System Restore make my system run slower?

Q.18. How do I perform a System Restore?

Q.19. How to create a restore point with System Restore?

Q.20. Is there a way to run System Restore from the Command Prompt?

OR

How to run System Restore from the command line?

Q.21. Can I use System Restore instead of other backup software programs?

Q.22. How to turn on/enable System Restore?

OR

How to turn off/disable System Restore?

Q.23. Can System Restore be run in safe-mode?

OR

How to run System Restore in safe-mode?

Q.24. How to reinstall System Restore?

Q.25. How can I test System Restore?

Q.26. Can I use System Restore to uninstall or reinstall software programs?

Q.27.  What should I do before running System Restore?

Q.28. What happens to User Accounts in the restore process?

Q.29. What should I do after restoring my system to an earlier date?

Q.30. How to Restore a Windows XP system to a previous state using System Restore?

Q.31. What are the limitations of System Restore?

Q.1. What is ?

System Restore is a Windows program which can roll back system files, registry keys, installed programs and drivers to a previous date. You can create a new restore point, roll back to a previously created restore point and undo the restore which you did previously.

By default, restore points of many weeks are created and as new restore points are created, old restore points are removed. You can change the disk space settings for System Restore. You can also disable System Restore, if needed.

System Restore monitors and backs up system files with specific extensions (.exe, .dll, etc.) and saves them for later recovery and use. It also backs up the registry and most drivers.

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Q.2. How to open or start System Restore?

Click the Start button, point to All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools and then click System Restore.

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Q.3. How to open or start System Restore from the Run command box?

Click Start -> Run, type the following command and then press the Enter key:

restore\rstrui.exe

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Q.4. What are the other  ways to start System Restore?

a. Click Start -> Run. Type msconfig and press the Enter key.  When msconfig starts, click the button labeled “Launch System Restore”.

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b. Click Start and then click Help and Support.  In Help and Support, click "Undo changes to your computer with System Restore".

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c. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del or Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch the Task Manager. Click File -> New Task –> Create New Task. Type the following command then click OK:
restore\rstrui.exe

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d. Type the following command at a command prompt, and then press the ENTER key:

restore\rstrui.exe

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Follow the instructions to restore your computer to an earlier state, or undo the last restore if available. Note: When restoring a system from the command prompt, an automatic “UNDO” restore point will NOT be created and System Restore won’t  allow a restoration to the current state.

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Q.5. If I restore to a point before a program was installed, will System Restore remove the program?

No, System Restore does not change or monitor program installations. An exception is when the program only contains an executable or only the file types which System Restore monitors.

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Q.6. What is restored and what is not restored when performing a System Restore?

According to Microsoft, the following are restored:

  • Registry (note: some current values will persist)
  • Profiles (local only—roaming user profiles not impacted by restore)
  • COM+ DB
  • WFP.dll cache
  • WMI DB
  • IIS Metabase
  • Files with extensions listed in the Monitored File Extensions list

According to Microsoft, the following are not restored:

  • DRM settings
  • SAM hives (does not restore passwords)
  • WPA settings (Windows authentication information is not restored)
  • Contents of the My Documents folder(s)
  • Specific directories/files listed in the Monitored File Extensions list
  • Any file with an extension not listed in the Monitored File Extensions list
  • Items listed in both Filesnottobackup and KeysnottoRestore (hklm->system->controlset001->control->backuprestore->filesnottobackup and keysnottorestore)
  • User-created data stored in the user profile
  • Contents of redirected folders

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    Q.7. If I don’t want System Restore to monitor a particular drive, how to do that?


You can’t stop System Restore on the Windows drive, but you can stop it from monitoring other drives or partitions. Open the System Properties by right clicking My Computer and clicking Properties, or by running the command sysdm.cpl from the Start -> Run command box. Then, click the System Restore tab.

On computers which have only a single partition, it’s only possible to turn off System Restore by placing a check-mark in the box labeled “Turn off System Restore on all drives”. If your computer hard drive has more than one partition, you can turn off System Restore on the other drives by selecting that particular drive and then clicking the Settings button, as shown in the image below.

Place a check-mark in the box titled “Turn off system restore on this drive”.  Then, click OK, and then OK again.

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Q.8. How can I see how much disk space System Restore has used?

a. Start Windows Explorer. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options and then click the View tab.

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b. Under Hidden Files and Folders, select the radio button “Show Hidden Files and Folders”, and then clear the “Hide Protected Operating System Files (Recommended)” check box. Also clear the “Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended)” check-box. This is the last checkbox under the Advanced settings, so you’ll have to scroll down.

c. Click Yes when a dialog box is displayed. Then, click OK to close Folder Options.

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d. Now, check whether you have an NTFS or a FAT32 file system. How do you check if you have NTFS or FAT32 file system? In My Computer or Windows Explorer, right-click the C drive (or your Windows drive, if other than C) and then click Properties.

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e. If the file system on C drive is NTFS, Windows won’t let you open this folder, but there’s a solution. Under the C drive, right-click on the System Volume Information folder and select Properties. In the drive properties, click the Security tab.

Click the Add button, and then in the box that’s labeled "Enter the object names to select", type the username  that you use to log on to Windows. This is shown in the image below. If your file system is FAT32, you don’t have to do anything like the above. You can access the System Volume Information folder without any problems.

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f. Right-click the System Volume Information folder and click Properties. You will notice a "Size on disk" value in the properties. This is the amount of space that System Restore is currently using for your restore points. See the image below.

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Note: Repeat the above procedure for any other drives or partitions, which you would like to check.

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Q.9. How can I control the disk space, which System Restore uses?

Windows is set to use the maximum amount of available disk space for System Restore, by default. If you want System Restore to use less disk space, then do the following: Click Start and then click Run. In the Run command box, type sysdm.cpl and press the Enter key.

On the System Properties, click the “System Restore” tab. If you have a single partition, click the Settings button and reduce the disk space by sliding the bar to the left. If you have multiple partitions, select each partition and then click the Settings button.

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Q.10. Why isn’t System Restore creating automatic Restore Points?

This may happen due to one of the following two reasons: The “Task Scheduler” service  must be running on your computer for System Restore to create automatic restore points. If this service is disabled, System Restore can’t create automatic restore points. To check if this service is running, click Start, then click Run.

In the Run command box, type services.msc and then press the Enter key. Scroll the list of services until you find the “Task Scheduler” service. Make sure that it is set to Automatic and the status says “Started”. In case, it’s set to manual or disabled, double-click it and select Automatic. Then right-click it and click start.

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If your computer constantly runs programs, this can be another reason for System Restore not able to create automatic restore points.  System Restore needs the computer to be idle, before it can take a snapshot of your computer. Disable some running programs or the programs which run in the background. Then, check again whether automatic restore points are created.

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Q.11. Why doesn’t System Restore work on my computer?

Here are some basic troubleshooting steps to find why System Restore is not working.

a. Make sure that the System Restore service is running on your computer:

Click Start and then click Run. In the Run command box, type services.msc and then press the Enter key. Scroll down till you see the System Restore service in the list of services.  The status of the service should be “Started” and the startup type should be “Automatic”. If these settings are otherwise, double-click System Restore and change the Startup type to “Automatic” and then start the service by right-clicking it.

b. Also, make sure that the Task Scheduler service is running. In the list of services, above, find the Task Scheduler service and if it’s not set to “Automatic”, set it to automatic and start the service if it is not already started.

c. Make sure that you have enough free disk space available. When your disk space goes below 200 MB, System Restore will not create restore points any more. You should free up disk space for System Restore to work again.

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Q.12. Can a virus be stored in a Restore Point?

Many viruses have the same extension as the Windows executables and other files which the System Restore monitors. So, if your computer is infected with a virus, System Restore may take a snapshot of the system at that time and keep the virus in the snapshot too. Now, if you remove the virus from the computer, but later restore the system to a previous date, using System Restore, the virus will be restored too.

The best thing to do when you suspect or find a virus, is to disable System Restore first and then scan your system in safe mode or using a boot-time scan, if your Antivirus program has that option. But, remember that once System Restore is disabled, all the restore points would be deleted. After the virus is removed, you should then enable System Restore once again, and then create a new restore point.

For more information, see:

How to turn off System Restore

How to create a restore point manually.

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Q.13. How much disk space is used by System Restore? OR

What are the disk space requirements for using System Restore?

The amount of space used by System Restore depends on the amount of free space available on your hard drive. If your hard drive has more than 4 GB free space, System Restore can use about 12 percent of that space at the maximum. If you have less than 4 GB of free space available, only 400 MB space is used for System Restore.  You can control or change the amount of space that System Restore uses, but the maximum it can use is 12 percent of the free space.

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Q.14. When are the Restore Points created?

You can create restore points, manually, whenever you wish. Windows creates them automatically when:

  • Installing an unsigned device driver.
  • Installing programs which use the Windows Installer or Install Shield  Pro version 7 or later.
  • You try to restore the system to a previous date.
  • Windows applies updates automatically.
  • You restore data using the Windows Backup.
  • The computer is operated for 24 hours, since the creation of the last restore point.

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Q.15. Can I delete the Restore Points which I don’t need?

You cannot select the restore points manually, but you have two options to delete the restore points. You can delete all the restore points except the last (or latest) one, or you can delete all the restore points. To delete all the restore points except the last one:

Click Start, then click Run. Type the following command and then press the Enter key: cleanmgr Click the “More Options” tab and then click the Cleanup button in the System Restore box.

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To delete all the restore points, simply turn off System Restore, click apply and then again turn on System Restore by enabling it.

For more information, see How to turn off System Restore.

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Q.16. Why are my Restore Points missing?

The most common reason for missing restore points is the lack of free disk space on your hard drive.

When there is less free disk space, System Restore deletes the restore points starting from the oldest one, to get more disk space. Windows also warns you about low disk space. To free up disk space, see this page.

To know more about this problem, visit the following link at Microsoft.

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Q.17. Does System Restore make my system run slower?

You won’t notice any performance loss by having System Restore enabled on your computer. Creating restore points only takes a few seconds and this happens only after 24 hours of system operation, and that too when the computer is idle.

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Q.18. How do I perform a System Restore?

Open System restore and click the Next button. Then, click a bold date on the calendar, and on the right of the calendar, select the restore point to which you want to restore your computer to (if there are more than one).

System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration, and then restarts the computer. After Windows restarts, System Restore will tell you whether the restore was successful or not. If it was successful, you’re done . If not successful, it will give an error. Or if you aren’t happy with the restore, you can undo the restore by starting System Restore once again and selecting “Undo the last restoration.”

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Q.19. How to create a restore point with System Restore?

Open System Restore and click the radio button labeled “Create a restore point”. Then, click Next.

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System Restore will ask you to type a description for this restore point. Type a meaningful description in the text box and click Create.

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Q.20. Is there a way to run System Restore from the Command Prompt? OR

How to run System Restore from the command line?

Type the following command at a command prompt, and then press the ENTER key:

restore\rstrui.exe

This command can also be run from the safe mode command prompt, if Windows doesn’t start in any mode (normal and safe mode).

Note: When restoring a system from the safe mode command prompt, an automatic “UNDO” restore point will NOT be created and you can’t restore the computer to the current state.

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Q.21. Can I use System Restore instead of other backup software programs?

No. System Restore is not a replacement for backup programs. It’s not meant to backup data files. It only monitors specific system and program files. It backs up these files regularly, but the restore points are available for a maximum of 90 days. If you are low on disk space, System Restore deletes the old snapshots and replaces them with new ones, even before 90 days.

You should use a real backup program or the built-in Windows Backup, to backup your data.  Such backup programs are meant for permanent backup, unlike the System Restore, and you have full control of what to backup and where to backup, what to restore and where to restore.

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Q.22. How to turn on/enable System Restore? OR

How to turn off/disable System Restore?

Open the System Properties by right clicking My Computer and clicking Properties, or by running the command sysdm.cpl from the Start -> Run command box. In System Properties, click the System Restore tab.

On computers which have only a single partition, it’s only possible to turn off System Restore by placing a checkmark in the box labeled, “Turn off System Restore on all drives”. If your computer hard drive has more than one partition, you can turn off System Restore on the individual drives or partitions by selecting that particular drive and then clicking the Settings button, as shown in the image below.

Place a checkmark on the“Turn off System Restore on this drive” checkbox.  Then, click OK (twice).

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To enable System Restore, open the same System Properties as you did above, and if there’s a check mark in the box which says “Turn off System Restore on all drives”, remove the checkmark and then click OK. If the above box isn’t checked, you can check the settings for each drive and turn on System Restore for the drive you want, by removing the checkmark on the “Turn off System Restore on this drive” checkbox, as shown in the above image.

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Q.23. Can System Restore be run in safe-mode? OR

How to run System Restore in safe-mode?

When you log on to Windows in safe mode, Windows asks you if you want to run Windows in safe mode, or if you want to start the System Restore. If you click yes, safe mode starts, if you click no, System Restore starts.

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For best results, you should always try to run System Restore from safe mode. Note that after you run the System Restore from safe mode and reboot the system, you don’t get the message that the System Restore was successful, until you restart Windows again in safe mode. In normal mode, you don’t get this message, even though System Restore was successful. So, you may want to go to safe mode, once again to confirm whether System Restore was successful.

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Q.24. How to reinstall System Restore?

Warning: Reinstalling System Restore will delete all existing restore points.

Click Start and then click the Run command box. Type in the following command and then press the Enter key:

rundll32.exe advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection C:\Windows\Inf\sr.inf

If the Files Needed dialog box appears, click Browse and point to one of these locations:

The i386 folder on the Windows XP CD.

The i386 folder on the hard drive, if one exists.

The i386 folder on the Windows XP SP2/SP3 CD, if you have it.

When the reinstall is complete, Windows gives the following message:

You must restart your computer before the new settings will take effect.

Do you want to restart your computer now?

At this point click YES.

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Q.25. How can I test System Restore?

Start  System Restore, create a new restore point and name it TEST. Then, create a new shortcut on the desktop and point it to the Desktop or any other file of your choice and name it TEST, as shown in the images below.

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Now open System Restore and restore your computer to the restore point named TEST.

The computer will reboot and will give a status message, whether the restore was successful or not. If it was successful, the TEST shortcut on the desktop won’t be there now.

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Q.26. Can I use System Restore to uninstall or reinstall software programs?

No, System Restore cannot completely uninstall programs, when restoring to a point before the program was installed. System Restore doesn’t monitor all the files that a program uses, so when you restore the computer to a point before the program was installed, only the files which are monitored are removed/restored. The registry entries are also removed/restored. This can make the program not to work. In some cases, this will leave the program in an unstable state where you can’t uninstall it completely, nor install it properly again. So, it’s recommended that you uninstall and later reinstall any programs which were installed after the creation of the restore point, which you want to restore to.

If uninstalling or reinstalling a program fails, undo the restore, then uninstall the program and do the restore once again. If the uninstall or reinstall still fails, download and install a free registry cleaner and clean the registry. It will remove the improperly installed program from the registry. Then,  you can continue with the installation.

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Q.27.  What should I do before running System Restore?

System Restore should only be used after you’ve troubleshot the computer using other methods. You should first try by rebooting the computer. This simple method may solve your problem. If it does not, then you should try to boot the computer into the “Last Known Good Configuration” option from the boot menu by pressing the F8 key, when the computer restarts.

You should also uninstall any programs that were installed after the restore point was created.

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Q.28. What happens to User Accounts in the restore process?

If you restore the computer to a time before you created the user accounts, the restoration will remove those user accounts. However, the user account names and folders will still remain under C:\Documents and Settings.  Any files and folders in the My Documents folder won’t be restored because My Documents folder is not monitored by System Restore.

If you restore the computer to a point before a user account was deleted, System Restore will restore the user account. However, the user’s files and folders that were in the “My Documents” folder won’t be restored, because that folder is not monitored by System Restore.

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Q.29. What should I do after restoring my system to an earlier date?

When you restore the computer to an earlier date, the files which are monitored by System Restore, will be reverted back to the versions on that date. You should apply software updates to Windows and any other software programs, which you have installed.

Any software program which you installed after the creation of the restore point may not work because System Restore only removes or restores the monitored files. The other files needed by the program remain as they were. This can make those programs unstable, and you may not be able to re-install or even uninstall those programs. You should uninstall any such programs which were installed after the creation of the restore point. Do this before you restore the computer to an earlier date.

If you didn’t uninstall a program and do a restore, System Restore may not completely remove the program. To remove it, you may have to reinstall it and then uninstall it from the Add/Remove Programs. If you aren’t able to remove any such program, use a free registry cleaner to remove the entries for this program from the registry. You can also use Microsoft TweakUI to remove the entries from the Add/Remove Programs’ list.

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Q.30. How to Restore a Windows XP system to a previous state using System Restore?

If you can start Windows XP in any mode (normal mode, safe mode, safe mode with networking or safe mode with command prompt), you can restore your system to a previous state by using System Restore.

If Windows can start in normal mode, log on as Administrator or a user with administrator rights. Then, click Start, point to All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools and click System Restore.

If Windows can boot in any of the safe modes, log on as Administrator or a user with administrator rights. When you get the welcome screen, asking you if you want to start the safe mode, click NO. Clicking NO will start System Restore.

You can also type or paste the following command in the StartRun command box and press the Enter key:

%systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe

or just restore\rstrui.exe

This command can also be used at the Safe Mode Command Prompt.

Once System Restore starts in any of the above Windows mode, restore the system to an earlier time by clicking Next and selecting a bold date on the calendar.

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Q.31. What are the limitations of System Restore?

System Restore doesn’t track every change made to the operating system. It monitors only a few file types in specific locations on the volume. Due to this, some software upgrades may not be completely  reversed by System Restore. Also, there may be problems when you try to run or remove such applications.

System Restore needs some amount of free space on the volume. If there’s little space left on the drive, System Restore will fail to create a restore point. In such a case, when you try to do a System Restore, you see that there is no restore point available to do a restore.

A restore point is not permanent. After a few days, it will be deleted and new restore points will be created. So, if you don’t notice a problem within a few days’ time, it may be too late when you try to do a System Restore, later.

If your system or programs are infected with virus or any kind of malware, System Restore can’t know this and these malicious programs are also backed up when restore points are created.

Since System Restore doesn’t allow users or programs to access the folder where restore points are stored, and its method of backing up is very simple, it may backup virus infected program files. Your antivirus program won’t be able to remove the malware from the System Restore points. There’s only one way to remove an infected restore point – by turning System Restore off. This will delete all the restore points.

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  1. abel
    August 20th, 2011 at 18:19 | #1

    this forum is useless to me. my problem now is. the system restore does not appear in the service list.
    i cant start it.

  2. August 21st, 2011 at 03:49 | #2

    Hello Abel,
    Firstly, this is not a forum. It’s a blog containing posts about updated device drivers, troubleshooting guides, tools and resources.

    Secondly, if you could give us some details about your problem, someone could help you in solving it. What is your computer configuration? Which Windows version do you have? Did you re-install Windows recently? What is the exact error message you get when you try to start system restore?

    If you need to reinstall system restore, the solution to question 24 may help you. If it doesn’t, please get back and provide as many details about the error, as possible.

    Kind Regards,
    Support Tech | XP Drivers

  3. Shea
    December 29th, 2011 at 00:23 | #3

    I have a question. When you get a virus, does system restore automatically run and restore to a previous point?

  4. January 5th, 2012 at 08:53 | #4

    Hello Shea,

    When you suspect a virus, you should disable system restore and then boot into the Safe Mode by hitting the F8 function key while you see “Starting Windows XP”, and selecting “Safe-mode”. Then run a virus scan and a malware/spyware scan using the programs you have installed.

    System restore does run at intervals and you can restore the system to a previous point using system restore, but there’s no guarantee that the system restore files are virus-free and you don’t know exactly when your system got infected.

    Kind Regards,
    Support Tech | XPDrivers

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