How to use System Restore on a Windows PC

win7systemrestoreA member asks…

I am recovering my system from serious problem, and was able to deactivate some bad malware using your advice on Malwarebytes (thanks!), but my system is still kinda flaky. You advise using System Restore – how do I do that?

Ok, at this point, your computer is operational, but desktop icons may be missing, and other stuff may look wierd as a result of a malware infection. Let’s get your computer back to the way you like it. Let’s use Windows 7’s System Restore.

First off, let’s get you used to using the search feature instead of your eyeballs for finding programs:

  1. Click the Start button at the bottom left of your screen. Then take your hand off the mouse, and…
  2. type the words ‘System Restore’ – those words go into the box immediately above the Start button. And above that, matching entries appear
  3. You don’t need to do anything more than hit your Enter key, because System Restore is the top entry, highlighted and ready to go.
That very quickly and easily starts the System Restore program for you. Read the window if you like, or click the ‘Next’ button.The second window shows you a few ‘restore points’ that you can use, with one highlighted (usually the most recent). You can choose any you like, but be aware that any programs you installed since that date/time (including stuff like Windows Updates) will need to be re-done.Another ‘Next’ button and you see a ‘Finish’ button. Please note, once you click ‘Finish’ you need to go get another cuppa coffee – let the computer do its stuff and wait patiently till it’s done.Windows will restore your computer, and restart itself when it’s done. But you aren’t! Please do just a few more things to get you finished:
  1. Restart the computer again. And one more time. Wait each time till the computer has fully restarted (meaning the hard drive light stops madly blinking) – usually 3-4 minutes per restart.
  2. Now run Windows Update and get whatever they offer – install it.
  3. Now update your protection program, get whatever updates it offers.
  4. Same for any other programs you have installed – notably Adobe Reader, Java, and Apple’s Software Update.
    1. For Adobe Reader, just run the program, click Help and Check for Updates
    2. For Java, just go to and download the latest version
    3. For Apple, find Apple Software Update in your Program list and run it.
  5. And you guessed it, lastly, restart your computer – twice!

At this point, you should have fully reversed the effects of your initial error, and be back to just where you were before it happened. Geez, you’d think they would make this easier!


Many folks worry about System Restore, sometimes with good reason. But for the most part, it does its job without a lot of fuss and muss. None of your personal data files (including Outlook) will be affected, they’ll be just the way you left them. And if you use webmail, you needn’t worry either.

The only time to worry is if System Restore offers you NO restore points! That can happen if you by chance turned that system off, or if something corrupted existing restore points. This doesn’t happen all that often anymore, so don’t worry about it…unless you experience this! In that case, you may want to call your friendly neighborhood tech support folks to help you out. Sometimes this stuff does get too complicated for an easy answer…

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