How to set a Restore Point in Windows

I've run into this situation more times than I care to remember: A friend calls upon my aid because he's messed up his PC by unknowingly installing programs that, while they may not technically be termed "malware," nevertheless slow down the machine or cause it to start misbehaving in one way or another. Of course, a good option is to boot up with a security program like the one included with most antivirus suites. An excellent way to fix the problem is simply to restore the friend's PC to an earlier working state.

That's exactly what Restore Points let you do.

And they don't affect any documents, photos, email, or other data files that you acquired more recently than the restore point — only the system and programs. That's a key difference between creating a full disk image backup — which also reverts your personal data files to the earlier state.

If a PC user has created a Restore Point within a reasonable timeframe — say, the last couple of months — you can usually get the sick machine back in tiptop shape by running System Restore.

Windows automatically creates restore points when a new program or system update is installed, so there's a good chance that you'll be able to revert to a good state even without any forethought.

But just to be safe, let's all create a Restore Point today. And do this the next time you're visiting your novice PC user friends. The small bit of effort it takes will most certainly pay off when it comes to much simpler troubleshooting sessions at later date.

How create a Restore Point

First I'll go through the Windows 7 procedure and then the same process with Windows 8, but the process is almost the same in both versions of Windows.

Windows 7

1.Tap the Start button and right click on Computer and choose Properties.

2.Click on System Protection in the left sidebar of the resulting window.

3.Click on "Create…" which is the last button on the resulting Properties dialog, preceded by the text "Create a restore point right now…"

4.Enter a description for the Restore Point

5.Press the Create button. You'll then see a small info box entitled System Protection with a progress bar and the text "Creating a restore point…"

6.The creation process took less than a minute on my test laptop, a Lenovo T430. When it was done, the following satisfying message appeared:

Windows 8

1.Type "system protection" at the Start screen and select Settings in the Search panel. You'll only see the one "Create a restore point" result.

2.Click or tap that result.

3.Enter a description for the restore point

4.Press the Create button. You'll then see a small info box entitled System Protection with a progress bar and the text "Creating a restore point…"

5. Again, the creation process took less than a minute on my test laptop, a Lenovo T430. When it was done, the following message appeared:

And you're done. The next time your pal summons you to fix his misbehaving Windows computer, all you'll have to do is type System Restore in the Start menu (Windows 7) or Start screen (Windows 8), choose the restore point you created, and run through the wizard.