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How Do I Get At System Restore In Windows XP?

Question: After installing some software that totally messed up parts of my system, someone recommended I use System Restore to restore the machine to it’s previous settings. Sounds wonderful … except I can’t find it. How do I get at System Restore?

I honestly don’t know why System Restore is as hard to find as it seems to be. It’d definitely not obvious.

Oh, and I hope you have it turned on. Otherwise even finding it may be of no help.

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Let’s start by finding out whether or not it’s turned on, and enabling it if not.

Right click on My Computer and click Properties. Click on the System Restore tab, and make sure the Turn off System Restore checkbox is not checked. (It feels backwards, I know …). If you’re turning on System Restore, especially for the first time, it may then create a restore point, so it may take just a minute to complete.

While it’s working you can see that System Restore uses disk space, and that you can limit how much disk space it will use. This translates, roughly, into how many restore points it can maintain. As new restore points are created, if there’s not enough disk space, the oldest ones will be deleted.

Now, the official way to run the restoration UI is through the help system. If you start Help and Support and then search for “System Restore”, the results will include several results of interest.

However my approach was to find the executable and run it directly. Click on Start, then Run, and type in “c:\windows\system32\restore\rstrui.exe”, where “c:\windows” is your Windows directory. Press OK and you should get the System Restore UI.

In the UI you can create a new restore point if you like, which will save the current settings (though many installation programs do this automatically if System Restore is enabled), or you can revert to a previous restore point. If you select restore, you’ll be presented with a calendar of dates on which restore points are available. If you’ve just turned on System Restore for the first time, you won’t have any, other than the one that was just created.

After you select a restore point to restore too, you’re presented with important warnings. It’s worth noting that many changes made to your system after that restore point was created will be lost when you restore back to it. But then … that’s often exactly the point of wanting to revert to a previous restore point.

I’ve put together a very short video that shows the System Restore setting, and the UI. Have a look to better understand exactly where to find System Restore, and what it looks like once you get there.

VideoWatch the video: Managing Restore Points.

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58 comments on “How Do I Get At System Restore In Windows XP?”

  1. …Huh? On my computer, it’s just in start menu -> all programs -> accessories -> system tools. I certainly didn’t put it there, it’s always been there.

    Maybe it’s a Home/Pro difference – I’ve got Home, do you all use Pro?

  2. hi there, i have used the system restore several times while trying to iron out several problems, however on completion of this i find my computer now runs about 1/2 as fast. Is this a common problem and is there any way to stop this?



  3. i want to restore my windows xp laptop to a previous
    restore point but when i goto system restore i only see this month’s (April 2006) where did all my other
    restore poinst go. i’ve never checked mark the ‘Turn
    Off System Restore’ check box, i’ve never even touched the stuff. My system is unstable and not acting right after downloading a program.

    Please Help.

    P.S. system restore point disk space is set at maximum.

  4. I never could find System Restore in my System Tools. Why it’s not there I have no clue but I typed the information in the RUN area as you described and it popped right up.


  5. my pc crashed on me… after i updated to windowxp service pack 3…i don’t a screen where i can right click… it boot up i don’t have a screen… i can’t get to samode to try rebooting it…help i need here please…

  6. i have a quetsion?

    where do the files of the creted restore points stored? is it located in the c:\windows\system32\restore ?

    I just cant figure out where it is being saved.

    And when i created a certain restore point, is it also the same filename that will be created in the windows folder?.


  7. There is a bug in System Restore.

    My C disk has 6 GB of free space. Total size is 10GB. System restore is allocated 450MB. After running Windows update, SR suspended itself because it doesn’t think there is enough free disk space.

    After over 5 years, you might think XP SP2 is pretty much debugged. Nope.

  8. Hi Leo. My SR is not allowing me to select any earlier restore points (they are not bold) I figured the registry for Sr is corrupt. Can you verify?

  9. I turned off “system restore” to install some antivirus programs as they suggested (BIG mistake) and it has not worked since. I have tried everything under the sun that has been detailed by internet guru’s, and nothing works.When I click on ” restore my computer to an earlier time ” or “create a restore point”, I get the following message, “this application has failed to start because framedyn.dll was not found. reinstalling the application may fix this problem.” I am new at this computer game . Please help.

  10. You can delete all your System Restore points by turning off System Restore and then rebooting. This is done under the ‘system’ icon in the Ctrl Panel- System Restore tab.

  11. Luis/Dan – if you get the message that it cannot find that dll you can try registering it by doing the following. Go to the run command and type: regsvr32.exe C:\windows\system32\framedyn.dll before doing this ensure it is in this directory – or just type the location of that file if it is elsewhere on your system. Hope this helps

  12. I have tried and tried to turn on my system restore. Followed many postes and gone all through the built in help system. I even downloaded an automatic guide that lead me to the my computer properties and then got stuck for an hour because I don’t have a system restore tab. When I try to use the run pathway to just get at it it tells me the admin has it disabled. I am the admin and I am sure of it because I can create an admin acount. Please Help me.

  13. I nedded to restore my computer but the system restore won’t work, I checken and it is on. It tells me the following. Application has failed because framedly. all was not found. Re- installing the application may fix this problem. How to I re- install this? Hope you can help me. Thanks Sharon

  14. how do i do a system restore if it will not let me click on anything but select the date of the present time…? nothing works …please help

  15. Hi my system restore wasn’t workin so i switched it off shut down the pc re started then turned on system restore then it worked,but i have no earlier restore points to restore to i need to restore back 7 days to get rid of an application my daughter downloaded (MSN PLUS)when she downloaded this she clicked a tab to install an advert programme with msn plus ,i uninstalled msn plus but the advert’s still keep popping up every 5 seconds,can you help.
    regards liz

  16. i cant find the system restore. I think it was lost because the pc was infected by YM virus/worm. I think its the virus.. The cmd and regedit were also lost but i manage to put it back with some help on other threads. How can i put back the system restore, it says that the file was missing. hope you can help. Thank you.

  17. when I complete system restore and turn off my computer, when i next restart my computer this has to be done via safe mode which again fails to mentain its new restart point, any suggestions

  18. Windows cannot find ‘C:\Windows\System32\restore\rstrui.exe’ Have verified… System Restore checkbox is not checked. Am currently performing SFC /scannow

    I believe this was caused by a Trojan horse.Delf

    Any help would be apprecited to get system restore to start working and to get the rstrui.exe reintalled.

  19. I install window xp sp2 dark lite. But it doesn’t have system restore.How can i install install system restore? I don’t want uses different os because I think this dark lite os is great.

  20. When I try and do a system restore I get an error message popup that system restore encountered a problem and that it needs to shut down. Any suggestions? (Box is unchecked and I have never seen this issue before.)

  21. i finally found my system restore an took me for ever to find it. i needed to use it as my brother has used my pc for many accounts and now my pc is full of viruses. when i tried to restore my pc i could only go back 3 days, and that doesnt get rid of all the viruses, is there anyway i can restore my pc back to its orignal settings or choose a date to resotre it to

  22. how do i do a system restore if it will not let me click on anything but select the date of the present time…?

    Then you can’t. Either System Restore has been turned off, or older restore points have been removed to make room for newer ones.
  23. I’ve been trying many different dates to accomplish a system restore, and it continues to tell me it won’t let me do that. My mcafee isn’t seeming to work after an update. It also looks different.

  24. Hello Leo, i have a problem with system restore. when i open it is start ok and i can choose a restore point but when i click next it doesn’t go any further then next button just comes back up and is not ghosted to move on to the sext page.
    please help

  25. Hi Leo! I can’t open the system restore.. and also the system restore tab in system properties gone .. please help! how can i get iy back! thank you in advance..

  26. This mess is for LEO or one of his techs. Please reply to above address ASAP. I need expert help. 2 questions or more follow— the SYSTEM TOOLS file under PROGRAMS/ACCECORIES is “FOLDER IS EMPTY”. I can open SYSTEM RESTORE by entering an “ADDRESS” into the RUN box. This opens RESTORE and functions as normal. When the desktop reappears, error mess “SYSTEM RESTORE CANNOT RESTORE COMPUTER” “NO CHANGES MADE”. ! How do I get RESTORE to function again and 2 how do I put RESTORE in the EMPTY SYSTEM TOOLS FOLDER where it belongs? In the past I had to pay a tech to reload XP PRO. More money than I care to spend again. This issue is important to me because IE7 is experiencing som very strange behavior, meaning that the “RESULTS” page is displayed too far to the RIGHT. The site that a givin result represents is displayed correctly. OPERA and FIREFOX are NOT affected. I tried IE6 but the behavior remains. I think that restoreing the system to an earlier time, even to a point where I need to reload ALL my elective programs is acceptable to me. Please tell me in simple detail how to get RESTORE to work again. I am using this form because I do not see a contact link to LEO or the WEBMASTER as most sites provide,

  27. I have no problem finding and using system restore but in every attempt it reports that Windows was not able to restore…. date selected… choose another restore point, etc. I have resorted to using a 3rd party program ERUNT and it works perfectly. Why does Windows Sys Restore no longer work – succeed?

  28. Hello Leo, i have a problem with system restore. when i open it is start ok and i can choose a restore point but when i click next it doesn’t go any further then next button just comes back up and is not ghosted to move on to the next page.
    please help

  29. Dear Leo..
    I created my own restore point so that if anything happened I couls get back to where my plotter would work again…now i can’t find the restore point that I created..can you tell me where windows keeps it or how I can find it again? I have been in the restore system program..but it will only let me go back a couple months..PLEASE help

    Thanks a ton

    System Restore does not keep restore points forever, even those you make yourself. Older restore points are removed to make room for newer ones.

    – Leo
  30. Hey Leo, I’ve tried to do system restore but when i type it in, in “Run” nothing happens. Nothing comes up for me to restore it, what can I do to get the system retore up?

  31. Hello Leo!

    I was searching around your site & I found this article that is close to home for me, too.

    Marc is experiencing “error mess “SYSTEM RESTORE CANNOT RESTORE COMPUTER” “NO CHANGES MADE.”
    Larry Kamberg writes, “in every attempt it reports that Windows was not able to restore…. date selected… choose another restore point, etc.”

    I’ve had this same problem for literally months now!

    I am not new to system restore… (maybe a little too familiar, lol!). I have always kept the box unchecked, and given it lots of space.
    I’m one of those pc users who DOES research files and programs… and gets confused in the process.

    My pattern is to usually say “what the hay..” and install (insert your nifty, exciting software here __) with my fingers crossed, hoping avast will save me from anything malicious, and System Restore can set everything right again.

    Not so anymore. I get these exact messages.

    Restore points ARE offered, I select the bold calendar date, and click…. then instead of the go-ahead I’m looking for, I get- ” No Changes Made” with “Windows is unable to restore.” and a “Select another date” option. And the cycle repeats(!) -. Once I tried EVERY restore point available…. Nada.
    Yes, I have tried setting a new restore point~ no can do.
    I bought an external hard drive to back up my system… can you help?

    First note that System Restore is not a backup. You mention the external drive for backups, and that would be unrelated to System Restore. What you want to really utilize that external drive is something like Acronis or another true backup solution.

    Given that System Restore does not restore everything people expect, even when it works, I strongly recommend not using it at all in favor of a true backup solution instead.

    One reason is simply the scenario that you’ve encountered: it’s not that uncommon, and I don’t have good answer to get it working again for you.

    – Leo

  32. I am trying to go to a restoring point but I get this message box

    “this folder does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. create an association in the folder options control panel.”

    please help me I think my computer got a virus yesterday. It said that my computer had a virus and I needed to purchase a program pc antispyware_2010 and windows antivirus pro I didn’t purchase either all of a sudden my computer restarted on its own and installed the programs. I went ahead and purchased the norton anti virus, installed it but now I can’t even access any word, excell or the calculator from my shortcuts. This is very stressful!!!

  33. From one day to the next I have cannot connect to my DVD writer and my E:\drive had disappeared. At Startup yesterday I noticed a warning message at the bottom of the screen about changes made in my start up settings which I definately did not do – now I can’t use/find my dvd/cd writer and one of my drives are gone. I tried a system restore but can only go back one month which made no difference at all.

  34. I have typed in the suggestion above to run the system restore but receive a message saying it has been turned off by group policy and I need to contact domain administrator. Who or what is that?

  35. when i tried to restore my system it say “there are currently no restore point available”Please help me out

    There is no help – if there are no restore points then there are no restore points. What happens next depends on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.


  36. Just had a reformat done, can’t find System Restore at all, although I used it once and created a Restore Point, very first day. ( My printer has lost connection and I need to see if going back will fix that.) Thanks.

  37. what happened to my sign in page. All I have on the screen is click user name but I can not get to it.some one is messing around with my computer.I need to have the home page back so I can visit my programs

  38. i can not get system retore to come up on my computer, an i have used it for years, an i need to restore some things like they were. can you help me? im older an don,t know alot about this kind of things, i need help.thank you.


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