How to Create a Windows Restore Point Using PowerShell

Creating a Windows restore point with PowerShell is easy!
Odin Odin (54)
5 minutes

Windows is an incredibly versatile tool, an operating system with enough freedom to handle a huge range of tasks, from playing games to writing novels. But Windows is also prone to bugs because of how deep into its operations a user can worm. With the right permissions, everything is open for access and alteration. If you’re experimenting with new skills in PowerShell, installing a bunch of software you want to test, or simply worried that a future official update from Windows might contain bugs that break something important (which happens with annoying frequency), then a restore point becomes a vital part of your computer hygiene.

Restore points are a vital part of your computer hygiene routine.

Restore points are essentially frozen copies of what your computer’s operating system looked like at a certain point in time. Note that restore points do not freeze copies of your personal data, they’re just there to create safe copies of those essential parts of your operating system that, well, allow it to operate. This is actually super useful, however, because you can restore the base operating system in many cases without having to touch any of your personal files. That said, you should always maintain good file backup practices for the data that means something to you. Whether that data is stored on an external hard drive, a cloud service like Sync.com, or an old-fashioned data disc, don’t keep only a single copy of what matters most!

Note: you can create a system image, which creates a stored copy of everything on your computer, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

PowerShell to the rescue!

Once you learn how to command your Windows computer with PowerShell you'll never want to go back to using the old GUI (graphical user interface). I do provide some basic instructions for setting restore points in older versions of Windows using the GUI, however.

I'll also provide GUI instructions all the way back to Windows XP so you have the basics in one spot. For more detailed instructions on using the GUI to create restore points check out this great guide by Ash.

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To start with, let’s turn on your computer’s System Protection. By default this should be active in Windows, but if it gets disabled you can easily use PowerShell to turn it back on.

  1. If you don't already have PowerShell pinned to your taskbar, press the Windows key and the S key at the same time time to bring up the search bar.
  2. Run PowerShell as an administrator (right click and select from the context menu).
  3. Retype or copy the following cmdlet.

PS C:\> Enable-ComputerRestore -Drive "C:\"

This just tells your computer that you want to enable system protection for your main C: drive. For most basic users this is all you'll need.

Alternatively, turn on system protection with the windows GUI

  1. Type “Create a restore point” into your windows search bar (you can also bring this up by pressing the windows key + S at the same time).
  2. Click on the button that reads “Configure”.
  3. Make sure “Turn on system protection” is checked. Then click “OK”.
Create a Windows restore point using PowerShell
Create a Windows restore point using PowerShell

In the modern versions of Windows, creating a system restore point is a breeze with PowerShell.

  1. In your search bar type “PowerShell” and right click on it to “Run as administrator”.
  2. Type or paste the following cmdlet (and replace the generic description with one of your own without <> brackets but with the quotation marks “”).
  3. Checkpoint-Computer -Description "<Your descriptive name here>" -RestorePointType "MODIFY_SETTINGS"

This just tells your computer that you want to create a restore point, provides a space to input the name, and finally tells the computer what type of restore point is being made. Wait for it, and the process will complete itself soon!

Use the Windows GUI to create a restore point

Go here for a full walkthrough of the process in Windows 10.

TLDR; 1. In the search bar, type “restore” and select “Create a restore point.” 2. Enter a name that will make sense to you for the restore point, note that the date and time are added automatically. The name might be related to some task you’re about to undergo, programs you’re about to test, or simply a seasonal name for a regular backup.

Once you click create, just let your computer do its thing!

Create a Restore Point in Windows 7
Create a Restore Point in Windows 7
  1. In Windows 7, open the Start Menu and right-click on “Computer” from the context menu. Then left-click on “Properties”.
System protection tab
System protection
  1. Click on the “System protection” tab at the top. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see “Create.” Click on that to create your restore point. Make sure to name the restore point something memorable.
Click on that to create your restore point
Click on Create to create your restore point
  1. Hang out until the computer finishes creating the restore point. It will throw up a message when it’s done.
Create a Restore Point in Windows XP
Create a Restore Point in Windows XP

Windows XP is pretty old-school by this point, so you should probably just upgrade if you can. If you connect this computer to the Internet at all you’re facing some pretty major security risks.

To create a restore point, just follow these steps.

  1. Open the Start menu. Click on “All programs” then “Accessories,” then click on “System Tools,” and finally click “System Restore.”
  2. Click on “Create a restore point and click “Next.”
  3. Enter a descriptive name for the restore point.
  4. Wait until your computer finishes creating the restore point, then click the close button.
PowerShell gives you the ability to take command of your PC for real!
Odin Odin (54)
0

It’s not sorcery, it’s PowerShell!