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:
    %SYSTEMROOT%\System32\restore\rstrui.exe
  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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