If you’re a Windows user who experiments with different third-party software, you could definitely use the system restore.
It’s a useful Windows utility that allows you to recover from system instabilities created for different reasons.
However, if you’re an average user who doesn’t go beyond word processing or web surfing, you may never need a system restore.
You may wonder if keeping these restore points is essential, or if it’s safe to remove them.
Is It Safe To Delete Restore Points?
Deleting the restore points won’t hurt your computer as it doesn’t affect the normal operations of your computer.
Plus, you may never need it if you perform usual tasks that don’t compromise the stability of your system.
The only catch is that if something happens to your PC, not having a restore point means you can’t solve your issue by returning it to a previous state.
In the case of a major problem, you have to use other troubleshooting methods instead of a system restore.
How Does System Restore Work?
System restore works based on the Shadow Copy, a technology that creates backup copies or images of files and disks.
As the name suggests, the Shadow Copy service creates an exact copy of the disk, volume, or file at a specific time.
When you run into an issue you can’t solve through typical troubleshooting processes, you revert the OS to a previous state.
Windows Restore helps you recover essential files and settings, including Windows registry, system files, supporting files, and just about anything required to return Windows to a stable state.
It doesn’t affect user-generated files and folders.
As a result, if you’ve accidentally deleted a file containing images, music, movies, or document, you can’t get it back using System Restore.
In such cases, you must use other methods, such as restoring the previous file versions, to get your deleted file back.
Similarly, if you’ve deleted a file before, you don’t need to worry about other people recovering it using system restore.
When you restore your PC to a previous version, the system will let you know which programs, files, or settings will go back and which ones aren’t affected.
It doesn’t affect the programs you installed long before and have been using for a while.
Instead, you’ll lose the programs installed after the restore point, browser updates, and recent driver updates.
If you’ve created personal files using recently installed software, you won’t lose them, although the program will be uninstalled after the restore.
Why Delete Restore Points?
Restore points are snapshots of system files and settings.
Since they’re exact copies of these files, they can take up huge chunks of your hard drive.
Keeping these restore points can affect your daily performance if you have low disk space.
In addition, the files and settings kept in each restore point depend on the available disk space.
These recovery files have limited allocated space on the hard disk, so the higher the number of restore points, the lower the number of files they can recover.
If your disk space is critically low, you may not get a high-quality recovery image.
You can delete these restore points to free up disk space if you can’t get rid of anything else on your disk.
Windows automatically deletes the older restore points it has created at regular intervals.
You can do the same.
If you’re worried about running into issues in the future, you can keep the latest restore point and delete all the older ones.
After all, you’ve performed many tasks on your computer after setting these restore points, and nothing abnormal has happened.
In addition, major Windows updates also delete old restore points, indicating that keeping old restore points is pointless and only keeps your hard disk occupied.
Creating Restore Points
System restore points are created in three ways.
Windows automatically creates restore points to help you in case of trouble.
It creates these points before installing Windows updates, a new program, or a driver update.
As a result, you can undo the updates or changes if they mess up your system.
Even if you don’t install these updates or a new program, Windows 10 and 11 will automatically set a restore point every week if you haven’t created one manually during that time.
To get this automatic feature, you need to enable System Protection (more on that later).
If you frequently tamper with your computer software, you can set manual restore points just in case.
It’s essential to create a restore point manually to undo the possible malfunctions if you’re unsure how a new app will affect your system.
To create restore points manually, go to Control Panel > Recovery > Configure System Restore.
The last option in the same tab allows you to create a restore point at that exact moment.
You get a prompt to enter a description for the restore point.
It’s a useful feature that helps you remember why you created the restore point.
If you run into issues several months later, this description can help you figure out the problem better.
After clicking Create, Windows will automatically set the date and time of recovery.
Configuring System Protection
Configuring system protection lets you control how restore points are set and what parts of your system can get these restore services.
You can select which drives get protected by setting restore points for them.
You can see all the drives on your computer in the box under Protection Settings.
By clicking on each one and hitting the Configure button, you can enable system protection for that drive.
Select Turn on system protection in the new window to schedule the system to set restore points every seven days.
You can also allocate the amount of disk space required for system protection.
There’s a slider at the bottom of the window that you can move to set your desired disk space.
If you don’t have enough disk space, don’t allocate too much space for each drive because running out of space will lead to system malfunctions.
It’s better not to exceed the default amount allocated by Windows, which is 3% to 5% of the total disk space, comprising up to 10 GB.
If you’ve allocated more than this amount, you may frequently run out of disk space.
By reducing this percentage, older restore points will be deleted.
How To Delete Restore Points
If you decide that you don’t need any restore points for your system drives, you can remove all or some of them through different methods.
For example, you can remove all restore points by disabling System Protection in the Control Panel > Recovery > Configure System Protection.
You can also press the Delete button in the same window in front of Delete all restore points for this drive.
1. Storage Sense
Although you can rely on Windows automatically deleting unnecessary restore points, you can make sure it definitely does so.
Go to Settings > System > Storage Sense.
Turning on Storage Sense allows Windows to automatically delete unwanted files, including system restore points, to free up space.
2. Disk Cleanup
The recommended action is to delete all the restore points but keep the most recent ones.
To do so, you need to run the Disk Cleanup utility.
Type Disk Cleanup in Cortana’s search box and press Enter.
Choose the drive you want to delete restore points for and run the disk cleanup.
After the utility finishes its job, you can see the More Options tab in the utility.
Under System Restore and Shadow Copies, click on the Cleanup button.
Confirm your action by selecting Clean up in the new prompt window to delete all but the latest restore point.
3. Third-Party Apps
You can also choose individual restore points to delete using specific third-party tools.
CCleaner is one of these tools that allow you to maintain your system health by cleaning unwanted data, including old restore points.
System Restore Issues
Although system restore is a lifesaver in many cases that don’t seem to have a straightforward solution, it may present issues when you try it.
One of the most frequent issues is that it can’t complete successfully and gets stuck in the middle.
The main reason is that you have many corrupted files or a malware infection that prevents it from performing the task successfully.
As a result, running a Disk Cleanup and virus scan is recommended before performing the System Restore.
If the system restore takes too long, you may want to wait for a couple of hours, especially if the original problem is severe.
However, system restore shouldn’t normally take very long, and you should wait until it finishes the job.
If it gets stuck, you can try the following solutions:
1. Run System Restore In Safe Mode
Performing the system restore in Safe Mode is one of the most effective ways that help you complete the process.
This way, you’ll run the system with barebone settings, disabling programs or settings that don’t let the restore complete successfully.
You can enter Safe Mode in two ways.
A. System Startup
If the screen is stuck on the system restore interface without any progress, the only thing you can do is to force shut down the PC.
After the PC boots, you can enter Safe Mode through the system settings if you can access the Windows interface.
Right-click the Start button and select Settings.
Go to Update & Security > Recovery and scroll down to Advanced Startup.
Click the Restart now button.
This will restart the computer, booting up to a troubleshooting window.
Click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System restore.
If you can’t access the Windows interface, you need to run the Safe Mode in another way.
Turn off your computer and turn it on.
When the Windows logo appears, press the power button to turn it off.
Repeat this process two more times to enter the WinRE environment.
Here again, you can have the same options, so click Troubleshoot > Advanced options > System Restore.
If the System Restore can’t initiate or gets stuck in the Safe Mode, you can run a startup repair to fix corrupted files that prevent it from going into the Safe Mode.
It’s accessible through the same menu as the System Restore in Safe Mode.
Enter Safe Mode through the steps described above and select Startup Repair under Advanced Options.
Then, run the System Restore normally or under the Safe Mode and see if it helps.
2. Runs System File Checker
Corrupt files are one of the main culprits that prevent System Restore from initializing and completing successfully.
If you can’t access Windows due to a stuck System Restore window, you need to enter the WinRE environment.
Under Advanced Options, select Command Prompt.
Enter sfc/scannow in the command prompt window and hit Enter.
Wait until the SFC scan completes and repairs corrupted files.
Then run the system restore and see if it completes now.
3. Use A Different Restore Point
If you have several restore points, you can try a different one and see if it helps.
The reason is that the original restore point may have gone corrupt, and your system can’t revert to that point.
You can see a list of all available restore points in the same Windows Restore utility window, select the best one that suits your situation, and see how things go.
4. Perform A Factory Reset
If nothing helps restore your system to a good state, and none of the troubleshooting actions related to your original problem has worked, it’s safe to say you must reset your Windows.
Resetting your Windows doesn’t necessarily remove your personal files if you choose to keep them.
Still, it can help you revert the system to a good state.
Alternatively, you could fresh install your Windows to solve the issues that bug your system.
1. How Long Does The System Restore Take?
The system restore utility can take a while, depending on the number of files, the severity of the problem, the number of programs you’ve installed after the restore point, and many other factors.
Most of these factors are affected by how long it has been since the last restore point was set.
Depending on these factors, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
2. Why Are My Restore Points Gone?
Low hard disk space is the main reason for losing your restore points without personally deleting them.
Since restore points take a lot of hard disk space, Windows automatically deletes them when it runs out of free space.
It’s one of the first things to do to free up space.
3. Can The System Restore Remove Viruses?
A system restore might remove viruses by returning your system to a previous good state before the virus infection.
However, you may be unable to restore your system if the virus affects the system protection utility by deleting restore points.
In addition, you may even recover some deleted viruses by restoring your system.
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