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How to Enable System Restore on Windows 10

Jul 14, 2016

With Windows 10, Microsoft seems to have disabled System Restore by default — at least on some PCs. System Restore has been around since Windows ME, creating snapshots of system files you can restore if a problem occurs.

Windows 10 still does contain System Restore, so you can re-enable it if you feel more comfortable with System Restore as a safety net. Windows 10 also offers other system-recovery features, helping lessen the need for System Restore.

You can re-enable System Restore from the Control Panel. It will use some system storage space for its snapshots, so you probably won’t want to do this on inexpensive laptops and tablets with only a small amount of storage space. If you have a big hard drive in your PC, however, it won’t be a big deal.

Bear in mind that it’s disabled by default, so it hasn’t been creating snapshots. If you’re experiencing a system problem, re-enabling System Restore won’t help because you won’t have any old snapshots to restore. When you re-enable it, it will create a new snapshot — of your current system in its damaged state, if it’s damaged. If you want to enable and rely on System Restore, this must be done preemptively, before you have a problem.

This option is only available in the Control Panel, not the new Settings app. The quickest way to access System Restore settings will be to open the Start menu or Start screen, type “Restore” to search for it, and click the “Create a restore point” shortcut. You can also open the Control Panel, navigate to “System”, and click the “System Protection” link in the sidebar.

Open this window and you’ll see that system protection is “Off” for your Windows 10 system drive and the other drives in your computer. Select your system drive and click the “Configure” button if you want to enable it.

Click the “Turn on system protection” option and choose how much disk space you want to reserve for your restore points. The less space you provide, the fewer restore points System Restore will be able to keep at once. Click “OK” and System Restore will be enabled.

To use System Restore in the future, just go back to the same “System Protection” panel you used above. Click the “System Restore” button — now no longer grayed out, assuming you enabled System Restore — and you can use System Restore to go back to a previous restore point.

If Windows isn’t normally bootable, you can also boot into Safe Mode and run System Restore, or launch System Restore from the “advanced startup options” recovery environment.