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How To Use System Restore in Windows Vista


The System Restore utility in Windows Vista is a very valuable tool when you're working to solve a major problem.

Most major issues in Windows Vista are caused by problems with the Windows Registry, device drivers, and DLL files. When a restore point is created, a current copy of these files in Windows Vista are saved and can be restored using System Restore.

Considering the scope of protection that System Restore provides, using the tool early in your troubleshooting could save you lots of time.

Follow these instructions for reverting important Windows Vista files back to a previous state using System Restore:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Using System Restore to reverse system changes in Windows Vista usually takes several minutes

Here's How:

  1. Navigate to the Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools program group.

  2. Click on the System Restore program icon.

  3. Choose the Choose a different restore point radio button and then click Next >.

    Note: The default choice is Recommended restore. This restore point is probably the most recent automatically created one and is likely the best choice. However, for purposes of demonstrating the entire System Restore process in Windows Vista, I'll be continuing with the longer process of choosing a restore point manually.

  4. Choose the restore point that you want to use.

    Note: Check the Show restore points older than 5 days checkbox to see more than the most recent restore points.

    Note: Any restore points that you created, scheduled restore points that Windows Vista created, and those created automatically during the installation of certain programs will be listed here. You can not use System Restore to undo Windows Vista changes to a date that a restore point does not exist.

  5. Click Next >.

  6. Click Finish on the Confirm your restore point window to begin the System Restore.

    Note: Windows Vista will shut down to complete the System Restore so be sure to save any work you might have open in other programs before proceeding.

    Important: System Restore will not revert any of your non-system files like documents, email, music, etc. to a previous state. These types files are completely unaffected by System Restore. If your intention with this tool was to recover a deleted non-system file, try using a file recovery program instead of System Restore.

  7. Click Yes to the Are you sure you want to continue? dialog box.

  8. System Restore will now restore Windows Vista to the state that was recorded in the restore point you chose in Step 4.

    Note: The System Restore process could take several minutes as you see the "Please wait while your Windows files and settings are being restored" message. Your computer will then reboot as normal when complete.

  9. Immediately after logging in after the reboot, you should see a message that System Restore completed successfully.

  10. Click Close.

  11. Check to see if whatever Windows Vista problem you were troubleshooting has been corrected by this System Restore.

    If the problem still persists, you can repeat the steps above and choose another restore point if one is available.

    If this restoration caused a problem, you can always undo this particular System Restore.


  1. Not a Windows Vista user? See How do I Use the Windows System Restore Utility? for specific instructions for your version of Windows.

  2. See How to Start System Restore From the Command Prompt for instructions on running System Restore with just a command. This might be helpful if Windows Vista doesn't start correctly but the Command Prompt is still available, like in Safe Mode.

  3. Having trouble using System Restore in Windows Vista? See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more.

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