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What is a System Restore?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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System restore is a feature offered on many Windows operating systems, allowing people to roll the system back to a previous point in time. It is used when a change to the system makes it unstable and people want to return to a point when it was operating correctly. Depending on the version of Windows people are using, system restore can work in a number of different ways, but is usually fairly straightforward so inexperienced users can take advantage of this feature. Other operating systems have similar security and safety features available.

To use system restore, computer users can go into the system menu, locate this menu item, click it, and follow the prompts. It is easy to use, and people will be prompted with options and reminders at each step to reduce the risks of making a mistake. If the system is still unstable after a restore, it may need to be brought to an earlier restore point or it may be necessary to consult a computer technician.

When people make changes to an operating system, it automatically creates a restore point, noting and saving the configuration of the system and its files. Older versions are destroyed to minimize the amount of disc space consumed by system restore. People usually have the option of going back several weeks, choosing from several restore points, when they need to restore their systems. This can allow people to bypass something like a virus that inserted itself into the system and did not manifest immediately.

It is also possible to create a manual restore point. People may opt to do this before making a major change to the operating system, to save everything exactly as it was before the change. If something goes wrong, the system can be rolled back. System restores can be useful when installing programs, reconfiguring aspects of the system, and dealing with viruses. The system restore utility provides a prompt for creating a manual restore point.

When a system restore is performed, people lose data from the time period after the restore point was created. It is advisable to back up data separately to reduce the risk of data losses associated with a system restore. People with sensitive data do not want to lose even a part of that data if they are forced to wipe system changes in a system restore. A number of backup utilities offer features like automatic backups to external hard drives or servers, reducing the risk of data losses associated with failing to back up in a timely fashion.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon935157 — On Feb 24, 2014

Good article here. However, my experiences with System Restore Point have not always been successful. Often got something along the lines such as "this restore point is not accessible or corrupted."

I had to find alternatives to Windows System Restore- eventually I found an amazing program called RollBack Rx. It is a small price to pay for something that works great.

By anon343336 — On Jul 29, 2013

Thanks for sharing the answer. I just want to know about, which is more secure to use Anti-Virus software with system restore software like Deep Freeze, or just use the antivirus software?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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