What is a Restore Point?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A restore point for a computer hard drive is essentially a previous point in time that the user may reset the system to in the event of some severe problem. Sometimes referred to as a system restore, the restore point has been a common component in the overall restore utilities on hard drives that run Microsoft Windows as the base operation system. The feature is not designed with a single restore point. Rather, the function allows for the creation of a primary restore point, as well as secondary points that may also be employed if circumstances dictate.

A restore point can be used changes to a computer system need to rolled back.
A restore point can be used changes to a computer system need to rolled back.

All computers that are configured to run Windows applications include a preset restore point. Essentially, that is the point at which all the programs and software that come with the new computer are loaded, tested and found to be functioning properly. For many users, this remains the default restore point. In the event that the system is infected in some manner, or some other sort of major failure takes place, it is possible to use the recovery disk that comes with the system to return the computer hard drive to the original status. Keep in mind that using this method will fix the problem, but any software that was loaded on the hard drive at a later date will have to be reloaded.

A restore point can be used to reset a computer hard drive.
A restore point can be used to reset a computer hard drive.

However, there are also ways to backtrack to a restore point involving a matter of days or weeks. This may become necessary if recently installed software has a negative impact on the functionality of the system, or a file is somehow corrupted. Using the system restore software that is on the existing hard drive, it is possible to restore the system to a point before the corruption took place, or the offending software was installed. This approach will not cause the user to lose any data files, nor will it wipe out any software that was loaded on the system up to the restore point date. This approach will mean there are fewer files to recover. In addition, there is no need to re-install software that was present on the hard drive up to the point that is used for the restore.

Some software programs are configured with an internal restore point as well. The mode of operation is similar to the restore point for the hard drive. However, invoking the restore point on a given software program will only impact the computer data files associated with the software. It will not make any changes to other software running on the system, or make any changes to the status of the hard drive.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Reminiscence- My situation was a little different than yours, but system restore did prevent a major catastrophe. I downloaded a game from one of those online gaming websites and installed it into my computer. When I tried to run the program, however, everything crashed. The game had a corrupt piece of coding and my computer couldn't handle it.

I thought my hard drive was irretrievably broken, but the computer tech I called told me about the Window system restore option. He walked me through the process and I selected a restore point before I downloaded that game. The program did restore my computer's registry and all traces of the downloaded game were gone. It's been working fine ever since.


My computer's restore program really saved me from ruin a few months ago. I was watching videos at a popular social network and one of them took an unusually long time to load. I couldn't click out of it, either. Suddenly, the entire screen froze up and a blurry screenshot from a porno movie appeared. The next thing I knew, a very official looking page popped up and said my computer had been seized by a government anti-pornography agency. I would have to pay several hundred dollars to have it released. I found out later it was a serious scam called ransomware.

My wife and I tried everything we could to restore the computer, including running malware cleaners and disk cleanup. The ransomware program wouldn't allow us to do a lot of things, but we could get into the XP registry and access the system restore program. My wife found a restore point dated a few days before the ransomware struck, and she managed to restore Windows and the registry.

The malware is probably still on our computer's hard drive somewhere, but at least now we can use it without having to pay those scammers a lot of money. I say if nothing else works against some viruses or malware, try using the system restore option. You might lose a few things, but it's better than not having a working computer at all.

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