Who doesn’t like to test new software applications and experiment with various features that come with the Windows operating system? Microsoft knows that Windows users are a curious bunch, constantly looking for new software to try, never too afraid to give admin privileges to applications developed by complete amateurs and companies with no track record to speak of.

system restore

To protect its users from the consequences of their own actions, Microsoft includes a very useful feature called System Restore in Windows, allowing users to revert their computer’s state to that of a previous point in time. As such, System Restore can be used for Windows recovery after system malfunctions or other problems, but many Windows 10 users are not sure if it can also be used to recover deleted files the OS no longer keeps in the Recycle Bin.

Can System Restore Undelete Files on Windows 10?

System Restore relies on the Shadow Copy service. Shadow Copy is a technology included in Microsoft Windows that makes it possible to take backup copies or snapshots of files or volumes even when they are in use.

System Restore creates restore points at regular intervals. This allows reverting the OS to its state reflected by a past restore point. It practically works as an “undo” system for malfunctions or other problems that appeared after an OS, driver, or software update.

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In other words, the purpose of System Restore is to bring a malfunctioning computer back to a working state.

However, just because System Restore is incapable of recovering Windows 10 personal files doesn’t mean that it’s useless for file recovery purposes — far from it!

By using System Restore to revert your computer back to a fully functional state, you can greatly increase your chance of successful file recovery because all the resources used by third-party recovery Windows software solutions like Disk Drill will be available and in good working order, including:

  • Windows Registry
  • Files in the Windows File Protection folder
  • Local user profiles
  • COM+ and WMI databases
  • IIS metabase and others

Without them, you might not even be able to run your data recovery software of choice and use it to recover deleted files.

Thus, it’s best to use System Restore only when absolutely necessary and always start with a professional-grade data recovery solution like Disk Drill (more about it later in this article). Only when you find out that your computer is in such a bad state that Disk Drill doesn’t even run we recommend you use System Restore to revert your computer back to the last functional state.

How to make a System Restore Point

To create a new System Restore point:

  1. Open the Start menu. Make System Restore Point Open Start Menu
  2. Type "system restore". Make System Restore Point Type System Restore
  3. Select "Create a restore point" from the available options. Make System Restore Point Select Create Restore Point
  4. Click on "Create" at the bottom of the “Protection Settings” section. Make System Restore Point System Protection Create Button
  5. Type a description to help you identify the restore point. The current date and time are added automatically. Make System Restore Point Description
  6. A message will appear soon after, informing you about the successful creation of the restore point. Make System Restore Point Success

How to Perform a System Restore to Undo System Changes?

As we’ve explained earlier, System Restore can’t help you recover your personal files, but it undo damaging system changes that prevent you from using third-party data recovery applications like Disk Drill from recovering your files.

To use the System Restore feature:

  1. Open the Start menu. System Restore Undo Open Start Menu
  2. Type "system restore" or "system protection". Choose "Create a restore point". System Restore Undo Start System Protection
  3. Select "System Restore" option. System Restore Undo System Restore Button
  4. Select the backup which you want to restore by clicking on it once. System Restore Undo Select Restore Point
  5. Click "Next" and confirm that you want to revert your computer to the selected restore point. System Restore Undo Restore Underway
  6. Once a message appears saying that your computer has been successfully restored, you can click “Finish” to complete the process.

How to Recover Deleted Files on Windows 10 Using Disk Drill

With your operating system restored to a working state, nothing is preventing you from using Disk Drill, a professional-grade data recovery application with a simple user interface and the ability to recover several hundred file formats, to recover deleted files on Windows 10.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on your computer.
    Disk Drill
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Launch Disk Drill and choose the device from which you want to recover data from its main Device/Disk list. Then, click on Search for lost data on the bottom right of its window. Disk Drill Select Device
  3. Disk Drill will begin scanning your device. You can click on "Review found items" at any time to check what Disk Drill has found up to that moment. However, it’s better to let the scan entirely run its course. This way, Disk Drill will locate as many files as possible. Disk Drill Scan In Progress
  4. When Disk Drill completes its scan, you can click on "Recover all" to get back all the files it located, or "Review found items" to hand-select the ones you want to recover. Disk Drill Recovery Options
  5. If you choose the manual option of "Review found items", you’ll can then select which files you want to recover individually. While checking Disk Drill’s list of found files, it’s worth noting their Recovery chances. The better a file’s Recovery chances indication, the higher the probability of getting it back unscathed. Disk Drill Recovery Chances Estimation
  6. Since filenames might not tell much about a file’s contents, Disk Drill enables you to preview some popular file types, like text documents or images. To do that, you can click on the eye icon that appears next to their filename when you hover over them. Alternatively, you can right-click on any file and choose "Preview" from the menu that pops up. Disk Drill Preview and Hex Code
  7. To mark some files for recovery, place a checkmark on the little box on the left of their filename. When you’ve marked all the files you want to get back, click on the blue "Recover" button on the bottom left of Disk Drill’s window. Disk Drill File Selection
  8. Disk Drill will ask you where to Recover lost data. It’s best to use a folder on a secondary storage device as your destination to minimize writes on the storage media from where you’re trying to save your files. Disk Drill Recovery Path
  9. After a while, Disk Drill will inform you that the recovery is complete. Click on "Show recovered data in Explorer" to check out the files it brought back from the brink in Windows’ File Explorer. Disk Drill Recovery Complete

As you can see, recovering files with Disk Drill could hardly be any simpler, but the results are guaranteed. If you store any important data on your computer at all, it’s a good idea to have Disk Drill at hand for emergency purposes. Even though System Restore shouldn’t cause any loss of personal files, you never know when something decides to go catastrophically wrong.

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Besides Windows, Disk Drill also runs on Mac computers, and you can recover up to 500MB of data for free with Windows version. Should you need more than 500 MB, you can always upgrade to Disk Drill PRO for unlimited personal data recovery using a wide variety of accepted payment methods.

Can System Restore Remove/Delete Files?

The simple answer to that question is that System Restore does delete and replace some files, but not your personal ones. Photos, documents, notes, and anything you created will remain untouched and, theoretically, be accessible after a System Restore. Still, that’s an oversimplification of what System Restore does, and some of your files might not be accessible afterward.

However, reverting your operating system to a state before a piece of software was installed will render it unusable. The software’s files will remain on your storage, but it won’t be registered as installed. So, what happens if you install an app like Krita, then revert your operating system to a point before that installation? The software will remain on your storage, but you won’t find it on the Start menu, taskbar, or desktop. If you try opening a file related to it, the operating system won’t know how to open that file.

The complicated solution is to re-register any affected app manually and recreate its file associations. It’s easier, though, to reinstall all affected software from scratch, using the same paths to have the new instances replace the previous versions.

How Long Does System Restore Take?

Depending on who you ask, System Restore can take from 15 minutes up to an hour to complete its task. Strangely, all those various answers are correct.

The time needed by System Restore to revert your OS to a previous state primarily depends on three factors: your PC’s…

  • Storage speed.
  • CPU performance.
  • RAM.

Since System Restore’s task is to replace the OS’s current files and settings with past versions, it’s similar to copying files. Such operations are affected more than anything by the speed of the storage devices in use.

Have you got your OS installed on a modern SSD that can reach speeds up to 500 Megabytes per second? A System Restore process will complete much quicker than if the OS resided on an old HDD. Mechanic HDD speeds typically hover around 100 Megabytes per second, a fraction of an SSD’s performance.

System Restore also has to check what to replace and then extract some files. The speed of both the analysis and extraction parts depends on the CPU’s performance.

Finally, System Restore doesn’t need a lot of RAM, but not having enough can prolong the time it takes to complete the process.


System Restore is a useful feature that’s part of all recent versions of the Windows operating system, including Windows 10. Its purpose is to restore critical system components, such as registry and system files, back to a working state. It doesn’t, however, restore your personal deleted files, which is why you also need a third-party data recovery application like Disk Drill.

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With Disk Drill, you can recover everything from documents to images from music to video files and more with a few simple clicks, and Disk Drill’s user-friendly design makes it impossible to accidentally delete important files, which can’t be said about many other data recovery tools.


Odysseas Kourafalos

Odysseas Kourafalos has been writing about computers and technology for over two decades. He specializes in software and has produced thousands of articles, from tutorials on Linux to mini-books about gaming console modif...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.