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How to use System Restore: fix PC problems by rolling back to a working state

Roll back your PC to a point at which you know it was working well

System Restore is one of the features that makes Windows worth having - the ability to roll back Windows to a point where you know it was working well can rescue your PC or laptop from all manner of ills. You can quite literally restore a laptop to a previous date, a date at which you knew it was working well. Here's how to use System Restore in Windows 8. (See also: How to create and manage System Restore points.)

Most times your computer stops working properly one of three issues is to blame: often a change you have made - installing software or changing a critical setting - has caused something to go awry. If not it may be that you have a malware infection, or something mechanical may have gone wrong (your storage is full, you don't have enough RAM or something has overheated and broken). System Restore is a limited but brilliant tool - it won't delete a virus or mend a broken fan. But if the problem is a recent change made by your or software you installed, it can be your saviour - System Restore will rewind your PC or laptop to a time before things went wrong.

System Restore creates 'restore points' all the time. Every day, every time Windows updates itself, whenever you install new software, or whenever you manually choose to make one. (Thus it's a good idea to create a Restore Point if you are about to do something risky to your PC. We'll explain how later.)

Restore points capture the settings of your system at a point you know it was working well. If something goes wrong you can slip back to that point, and everything should be okay. System Restore doesn't change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed applications and drivers.

System Restore must be enabled on every drive on which you use it, and you need around 300MB of disk space. It's enabled by default, however, so here's how to use System Restore in Windows 8. (See also: Windows 8: the complete guide.)

Use System Restore to fix your Windows 8 PC: restore a laptop to a previous date

Before you start save every document you need to keep. And bear in mind that you won't be able to use your PC or latop during this process, which takes a few minutes.

If you are using a touchscreen Windows 8 device swipe in from the right edge of the screen, then tap Search. If you're using a mouse, point to the top-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, then click Search. Or simply hold down the Windows key and Q. In the search box type 'Recovery'. Then tap or click the 'Settings' bar on the righthand side, and choose the 'Recovery' icon.

Open System Restore

From the resulting windows select Open System Restore.

By default you'll be shown the most recent Restore Point. In our case this was created when installed BlackBerry's Link software. To restore to this point, click Next and then Finish. Your PC will now roll back. This will take a few minutes, and involve restarting your system.

Windows 8 System Restore

Alternatively, select 'Choose a different restore point' and hit Next. If you enable the 'Show more restore points' checkbox you will see all available Restore points. These will represent all recent major changes, and any  restore points you set up yourself. Select one of these, click Next and Finish. Your PC will now roll back.

Windows 8 System Restore

See also: How to uninstall Windows 8.

Use System Restore to create restore points

Windows 8 System RestoreUse the methods outlined above to call up the Windows 8 Search bar. Type in 'Restore' and select 'Settings'. Choose 'Create a restore point'.

Select 'Create' to manually make a new System Restore restore point. You'll be asked to name your restore point for future reference. Write in a suitable name and hit 'Create'.

Windows 8 System Restore

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.

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