System Restore Not Working

Some errors may cause System Restore to not work effectively. Errant startup scripts, installed applications, malware infection or hardware driver errors are some of them. Many other factors exist that contribute to this.

Author: Ian Musyoka
Category: Software

A new installed update or program might cause your computer to malfunction. You have probably wondered if there is a way you can undo everything and restore previous settings. Fortunately, there is one called System Restore. It is a tool designed for Microsoft Windows to repair and protect the computer software. 


Some errors may cause System Restore to not work effectively. Errant startup scripts, installed applications, malware infection or hardware driver errors are some of them. Many other factors exist that contribute to this. System Restore is a key recovery tool that can help you roll back registry information, program files, and system files to a previous state. System restore can solve your problem further by replacing corrupted or damaged files with good ones. 

System Restore Not Working

It works by taking a snapshot of some of the Windows registry and system files, then saving them as restore points. When data corruption or install failure takes place, your system can be recovered without the need to reinstall the operating system. By using the settings and files saved in a previous restore point, System Restore is able to fix the Windows environment. By default, a restore point is created once daily. System activities are continually monitored and restore points are created when a number of activities take place. Such activities include hardware driver updates, software installations, hardware driver installations, and manual restore point creation. 


Many unexpected issues call for the need of System Restore. Below, I cover a number of methods you can use to get around System Restore failure. 

Dealing With System Restore Errors

  1. Using Safe Mode to Run System Restore


Using Safe Mode can alleviate problems you might face while running System Recovery. A limited range of files and drivers are loaded while in Safe Mode, unlike the boot process. Your first course of action should be to boot your device into safe mode. In Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, you can achieve this in three different ways: 


  • Open the run window by pressing ‘Win + R.’ Type in ‘msconfig’ and hit ‘Enter.’ In the ‘Boot’ tab, make sure the box next to ‘Safe Mode’ is checked. If networking is required, pick it from the bottom. When you click ‘Apply,’ you will get a system restart prompt once the System Configuration window is closed. 


  • Go to ‘Update and Security’ in ‘Settings’ and click on ‘Recovery.’ Pick ‘Restart now’ under ‘Advanced start-up.’ Your system will be rebooted into the settings menu of ‘Advanced start-up.’ After the reboot, select ‘Troubleshoot’ then ‘Advanced options’ and ‘Startup settings.’ Then click on ‘Restart.’ A list of options will pop up on restart. To boot your PC into Safe Mode, select 4 or F4. With networking, select 5 or F5. 


  • Restart your computer and press repeatedly on F8 to enter Safe Mode. 


Once you get to Safe Mode, go to the start menu search bar and type ‘Recovery.’ Select it from the list. Then, go to the ‘Advanced recovery tools’ menu and pick ‘Open System Restore.’


In Windows 7, the process is very similar with little differences. Two different ways exist:


  • Press F8 when restarting your PC. This will open the ‘Windows Advanced Boot Options’ menu. Choose ‘Safe Mode’ or a different configuration, for example, ‘With command prompt’ or ‘Networking.’


  • Open ‘Run’ by pressing ‘Win + R.’ Write ‘msconfig’ and click ‘Enter.’ In the ‘Boot’ tab, keep the box next to ‘Safe Mode’ checked. Remember to select ‘Networking’ from below if you need it. A system restart prompt will pop-up when you click ‘Apply’ and close ‘System Configuration.’ 


After you boot in Safe Mode and System Restore seems to work fine, it is a sign that something (like a service or program) is limiting it when it boots normally. Some antivirus settings, like Norton’s ‘tamper protection’ can cause System Restore to fail. On the other hand, malware could be behind the issue. This means you will need to scan your computer with your anti-malware software. 


  1. Configuring Disk Space Usage


If System Restore is still not running effectively, try and change the disk space allocation. Sometimes Windows computers run out of disk space without informing the user. If you wish to configure disk space in either Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, type ‘system protection’ into the Windows start bar. Click on ‘Select a restore point’ and then select ‘configure.’ Examine the disk space you are using; if it is 300 MB or less, increase it. 


For Windows 7 users, the process is a bit longer. Go to the ‘Start Menu’ and select ‘Properties’ when you right-click on ‘Computer.’ From the column on the left, select ‘System properties.’ Then, select ‘Configure’ under ‘Protection Settings.’ Examine the storage allocation of your current restore point. Unlike its predecessors, Windows 7 takes up less disk space. Once you click ‘Configure,’ move the ‘max usage’ bar anywhere past 5% and click ‘Apply.’ Try using System Restore now and see if it works. 

System Restore Not Working

  1. Reset, Reinstall, or Repair Windows 10, 8.1, 8, or 7. 


Lingering issues that relate to system files can be cleared up by either resetting or refreshing the installation files for Windows 10, 8.1, and 8 users. Important data is also not lost due to the option of choosing what files are reset or refreshed. Users of Windows 10, 8.1, and 8 can choose to reset or refresh their OS. 


  • Reset: windows is reinstalled but settings, apps, and files are deleted (except for the ones that came with the computer).


  • Refresh: windows is reinstalled and personal settings and files are kept intact. 


  • Reset with ‘Keep My Files’: windows is reinstalled from the Recovery Drive. Settings, files, and apps remain intact. 


To begin the restoration process, press ‘Win + I’ and click on ‘Update and Security.’ Head to ‘Recovery.’ Click on ‘Get started’ under ‘Reset this PC’ and choose either ‘Remove everything’ or ‘Keep my files.’ Since we just want the system refreshed, select ‘Keep my files.’ This step will remove your Windows apps and reset your settings. When a prompt appears, click ‘Reset’ and wait for a few minutes. 


Users of Windows 7 have to press F8 to access the ‘Advanced Boot Options’ menu. At the top of the list, choose ‘Repair Your Computer.’ If the repair options are unsuccessful or absent, try using a system repair disk or a Windows 7 installation media. 


When using a system repair disk or installation media, put the USB drive or disc into the PC and reboot your system. Choose the option ‘Press any key to boot from CD.’ Some USB drive users might have to specifically choose the option ‘Boot from a USB drive.’ Different manufacturers have different specifications. With some, you will need to enter the BIOS (Basic Input Out System) while others have a specific key. Check the specifications of your manufacturer to avoid confusion. Once at the ‘Welcome to Startup’ screen, click ‘Repair Install’ and follow the on-screen instructions.  


Clearing Out Old Restore Points


You have the ability to delete old restore points. Essentially, System Restore is supposed to update your restore points and replace the old ones with time. Some people allocate a large amount of space to System Restore for this matter. 


If you wish to delete your restore points from Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, go to the Start Menu search bar and type in ‘disk clean.’ Right-click on the result and select ‘Run as administrator.’ Choose ‘local drive C’ to be cleaned and press ‘Ok.’ The amount of space to be cleaned will be calculated by Disk Clean-up. Open the tab ‘More Options’ and hit ‘Clean-up’ under ‘System Restore and Shadow Copies.’ A message prompt will pop-up. Press ‘Delete’ to proceed. Your last system restore point will be kept in place. 


Windows 7 users can achieve this by typing ‘disk clean’ into the search bar of the Windows Start Menu and picking the first option. Select ‘Clean-up system files’ when you get to the Disk Cleanup panel. After a moment, a new ‘More Options’ tab will be added. Click on ‘Clean up’ under the option ‘System Restore and Shadow Copies.’ This action will erase all your System Restore points, except the last one. Press ‘Delete’ to proceed. 


System Restore Alternatives


When your computer is being troublesome and you need a restore, System Restore is with no doubt very useful. However, regardless of the number of restore points that might have been created automatically by Windows, computer restoration will sometimes fail. It is a good idea to ensure you have a plan B if your System Restore keeps disappointing you. 


Backup software can provide your system restore points double protection. A number of examples include Time Machine, Deep Freeze, EaseUS Todo Backup, and Duplicacy. This software can be used to create backup images of files, applications, and system data onto external/internal hard drives, cloud storage, or network plus a lot more. Software like EaseUS provides direct access to a support team in case there is an issue with the product. By keeping a preferred backup and recovery software, you can return your PC to a safe state when a crisis hits. 



System Restore can be prevented from functioning effectively by malware infections, installed applications, hardware drivers and errant scripts. It is an essential recovery tool that can be used to roll back program files, registry information and system files to their previous states. Software installations, hardware driver installations, hardware driver updates, and manual creation of restore points are some of the system activities that contribute to the creation of restore points. You can delete old restore points if you wish to. Having backup software to restore your device is a recommended idea in case System Restore completely refuses to work.