Why is System Restore turned off in Windows 10? (And how to switch it back on again)

System Restore – a very useful tool when it comes to recovering from a bad program install or botched update is disabled by default in Windows 10.

What does this mean for you?

Hopefully not a lot – System Restore is only used when your computer is unable to start, bluescreens, or you experience random happenings in programs and can’t fix any other way. Therefore we hope you never need it! Having said that, the number of times I have visited clients and solved their issues with System Restore is uncountable!

Here’s how to turn it back on again!

  1. From the Desktop, in the search box type ‘System Protection’ and press enter when ‘create a restore point // control panel’ is displayed:

  1. Note under the protection column System (C:) (System), the status is ‘Off’
  2. Click the ‘Configure’ button
  3. Tick ‘turn on system protection’ and drag the slider to a reasonable amount of space.
  • The larger you make this the more restore points you have and the further back in time you can go.
  • For a drive that is larger than 250GB, I would recommend at least 10GB of space.
  1. Click Apply
  2. Click ‘Create’ and give the new point a name
  3. Wait for Windows to create the initial restore point and then click Ok

Here’s a quick video for these steps:

Why has Microsoft done this?

Nobody is entirely sure, but some current theories are:

  • On smaller devices (cheap tablets) with only 16 or 32gb of space, there isn’t enough room to have a system restore file as well.
  • Windows 10 has excellent ‘in-place upgrades’ from build to build, but this interferes with System Restore in some way, therefore they are turned off.
  • Windows 8/8.1 and 10 have ‘Reset/Refresh this PC’ which effectively reinstalls Windows whilst keeping all your files and programs installed. I love the idea of this, but still don’t trust it entirely!
  • System Restore is too complicated for end users (might be true, but it is very useful when troubleshooting a client’s computers!)
  • Users thought System Restore was a replacement for a backup – it’s not. System Restore is used to backup your computer’s settings, not your files.

If anyone has any more thoughts, or an official response from Microsoft, please let me know!


  • Dave Burton Reply

    My theory: they’re just stupid. When Bill Gates left Microsoft, the company’s average IQ declined so much that they now do idiotic things like disable System Restore.

  • Jim Murdock Reply

    Microsoft is preparing the public for another add-on app, “System Protection and Restore” that only costs $100.00.

  • Greg Reply

    I just got a massive update and it turned my system restore off. I did not like the update because it screwed up my monitor configuration and other nuisances and wanted to reverse it until I could get everything working like it did before the very sloppy, time-consuming and unwelcome ‘update’. Then I find system restore has once again been turned off. This is unacceptable! Microsoft thinks they know everything that is best for us and they take too much control. Google is even more guilty of the same thing. I prefer my own 30+ years at PC keyboards and building systems. I still think Windows XP was the best Microsoft OS ever (and Vista the worst). Why abandon the thing that works? This seems more like politics than computing and I find that thought disgusting.

    • Lenny Reply

      I got the same problem

    • Ken Heart Reply

      I totally agree with Greg – I cannot see ANY good reason to EVER turn off the system protection feature. You shouldn’t even be able to! It should be a default feature that is simply a part of the OS. And for heaven’s sake, put a ‘System Restore’ icon in the control panel! Make it AVAILABLE AT BOOT TIME!!! PLEASE Microsoft!!! WHY do you insist on HIDING AWAY some of the most useful and important features of Windows???

  • Russ J Reply

    Greg, I’m in agreement. It wouldn’t be very difficult to ask the user upon account creation or first time login what their level of experience with computers are and then adjusts what is modified automatically accordingly. On second thought, how about since it is so useful, enable it by DEFAULT! I don’t have 4 storage drives so that I can be treated the same as a tablet owner. Nor should updates be so drastic that they can’t convert settings files (for rollback inconsistency purposes). For argument sake, I’ll assume Microsoft has a somewhat logical reason for disabling it during updates. Here is the problem that choice created for me: I updated to windows 10 in December of 2015. Then in January received a nasty virus, while not paying enough attention, I clicked ‘yes’ before I thought, hmmm… that’s strange I’ve never seen a note about a missing codec in VLC. Well, two weeks later I was still working to undo what this insanely smart trojan did. I both want to murder and give props to whoever coded that thing because they thought of everything! The first thing I went to do was a system restore… and until I read this article, I thought that the virus had deleted my restore points and disabled it in settings. I have tried every option except a clean reformat because of the mountains of digital information I don’t want to lose. It’s almost been a year and I’m still trying to fix the issue. At least after the latest update the notification center informed me that system restore had been turned off, which is what led me here! Also, yes I am aware that I gave the trojan right of passage through my system, so ultimately shame on me. However system restore would have saved me countless hours of troubleshooting.

  • Brendan Reply

    If you want to protect your system, just backup everything on the cloud. At $7.00 per month for the rest of your life that’s a nice chunk of change for Microsoft.
    PS. Why do you thing Windows 10 was a free upgrade.

  • Marilyn Reply

    Microsoft’s latest batch of updates have been a real pain to download and install for a lot of users (KB4013429 and the others). I had trouble on one of my systems and it turns out the problem was that those updates won’t run unless they can create a system restore point and Microsoft intentionally left it off on my newer laptop! What a joke. Fortunately, one of my go-to fixes for MS problems is to look for a restore point to go back to–that was when I realized my system was not even set to create them. Once I turned system restore ON, the updates ran perfectly. Why would they ship Win 10 with it turned OFF, only to supply future Windows 10 updates which require it turned ON???? What a terrible thing to do to those who are not tech savvy.

  • Bernard R Kaye Reply

    I support all you say. Not only is System Restore disabled but I am unable to enable it.

  • S. Hughes Reply

    prior to 2017Q2 Creators Update, System Restore would frequently fail to restore (or report that it failed, yet apparently solve the problem you were trying to fix). One kludge to remedy this is to rename/delete the %ProgramFiles%\WindowsApps folder (which MS has made virtually impossible to access). I’ve yet to test it post Creators Update, but it’s apparent that System Restore and MS-Store Apps don’t play well together.

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