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How to Quickly Access and Use Windows System Restore or System Protection

System Protection (System Restore as it is called in Windows XP) is one of the most important system tools for maintaining Windows. However, Microsoft has chosen to bury it so that access takes a number of steps. I try out a lot of system tweaks and new software and that means that I am frequently creating and restoring System Restore points. So I prefer a quicker way than the standard tedious path. Here are shortcuts to use for the various flavors of Windows.

Windows XP

In XP, a shortcut can be created this way:

  1. Right-click the desktop
  2. Choose New-Shortcut
  3. For the location of the item, enter:
  4. Click “Next”
  5. Enter a name for the shortcut
  6. Click “Finish” 

(Unlike many system files, rstrui.exe is not in the system path in Windows XP so using it requires the complete path shown in step 3.)

Windows Vista/7 

For these systems, the shortcut involves a different file.

  1. Right-click the desktop
  2. Choose New-Shortcut
  3. For the location of the item, enter:
    control.exe sysdm.cpl,,4
    (Make sure to include both commas.)
  4. Click “Next”
  5. Enter a name for the shortcut
  6. Click “Finish” 

In Windows Vista, opening System Restore triggers the UAC challenge so just click “Continue” when using the shortcut. 

Save the shortcut file somewhere convenient and you are just a double-click away from a System Restore dialog box. This dialog box provides a way to either create a new restore point or to restore a previous restore point. 

Use VB scripts for fast creation of restore points 

If you wish a quick way to create a new restore point without bothering with the dialog window, there are several free VB scripts available.  I wrote one for Windows XP some years ago and it can be downloaded from this page.  

Windows Vista/7 require a different approach and a script for those operating systems can be downloaded at this site.  

Program for managing System Restore (System Protection) in Windows 7 

If you prefer a graphical user interface front end for managing restore points, you might try a free program called Windows System Restore.  I tried it on all three current versions of Windows and it only worked in Windows 7 but it looks like a nice way to manage your restore points in the newest Windows version.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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by AnonymousPrince (not verified) on 5. November 2012 - 8:46  (101903)

Just Click start and type "rstrui" and Press enter

by v.laurie on 5. November 2012 - 14:57  (101911)

This works in Windows 7 if you want to restore a previous backup but not if you want to create a new restore point.

by Starlight (not verified) on 29. August 2011 - 7:07  (78533)

I've been coming to Gizmo's Tech Support Alert site for a couple of years now and I also receive the daily newsletter and have done for a couple of years too! (Different email though)

However I somehow seem to have missed this great article last year and a very fortunate mishap, miscalculation, call it what you will brought me here today.

I quite literally stumbled upon this which is something I have just lately been becoming more and more certain that I needed on my desktop and abracadabra here it is.

Many thanks to you Vic Laurie and the WinHelpOnline Blog and not just for these great shortcuts but for all your great sharing like with your computer education site etc.

All the best to you one and all

by v.laurie on 29. August 2011 - 13:16  (78562)

Thanks for the kind words. I am glad the article has been useful.

by Wirtzel (not verified) on 19. June 2011 - 19:09  (73997)

Are there any good free alternatives to Windows System Restore?

by v.laurie on 19. June 2011 - 23:40  (74006)

To my knowledge, there is no free exact equivalent of Windows System Restore. However, there are a number of free programs for doing system backups. Take a look at this link:

by Bob on 25. February 2011 - 13:45  (67076)

On Vista, this one-click VBS script from How To Geek also works fine for me:

And the Single Click Restore Point (SCRP) recommended by Rhiannon does the trick too:

by Jakeman on 28. October 2010 - 6:54  (60336)

In XP I just navigate to it one time (Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore), right-click and choose "Pin to start menu". Even better than the desktop because it can always be accessed.

Although I rely much more heavily on ERUNT for my personal machines, it's easier to create a restore point before installing something new; both have saved me numerous times.

Your tip will help with newer Windows versions - thanks! Oh, and I like your XP script and will figure out a way to use it too...

by mtngzr (not verified) on 27. October 2010 - 18:55  (60309)

Try QRM Plus - Quick Restore Maker from "The Windows Club".

by The_Blode on 27. October 2010 - 9:25  (60267)

Why not use Sandboxie to try out new software? Everybody knows Windows Restore is a resource hog.


by John Thirsk (not verified) on 27. October 2010 - 0:17  (60240)

Couldn't agree more with kendall ....... this has been REALLY bugging me. The s-cut is so simple,WHEN you know how. Much appreciated.

by kendall.a on 26. October 2010 - 19:52  (60226)

Since moving over to Windows 7 a couple months ago, I've been looking for a quick way to access System Restore! Thank you!!!

When you go to start and just start typing system restore and hit enter (like I do often), it actually starts you into restoring a system restore point. I hate that. I've spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to create a desktop icon to run this thing. Thanks again for the tip!

by v.laurie on 26. October 2010 - 20:11  (60228)

You are most welcome!

by DougRH on 26. October 2010 - 16:41  (60209)

I'm a NuB here and couldn't find anywhere else to post a question. If this is not the right place, please repost this there(?) for me and provide the info for the appropriate place to post such queries thanks.

I have one app/client that I run over a dozen instances of simultaneously. It is not MultiThreading and my CPUs are MultiCores so I always end up manually setting the affinity and assigning them to different CPU cores manually which is tedious.
Also, they are all on scheduled (re)start ups. I'm trying to find out how I can set the affinity for them that will assign them to different CPU cores when the executables are all invoked in a staggered progression by the windows scheduler?

I haven't done any batch files for quite some time now. But this task is a natural for when I want to start them up manually myself. What is the command to invoke these executables from a batch file? 'Run *.exe' etc or do I just have to list them? Preferably with command line options that will assign them to the different CPU cores?

Is there a free version of 'WinBatch'?

Thanks for any and all assistance with these.

Nice site.
The 'System File Checker' is a great and very valuable tidbit. (< 8)