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System Restore is a powerful tool for reversing detrimental changes to your PC’s Windows installation.
In a nutshell, System Restore allows you to “roll back” the Windows installation to the state it was in at a time before the detrimental changes were made.
For example, lets say that somehow a critical Windows setting gets changed and your system starts doing strange and unexpected things.
You can usually fix this type of issue by simply using System Restore to roll Windows back to a Restore Point that was created a few days earlier.
System Restore is typically launched from within Windows, but what if the issue at hand is so severe that your PC won’t boot up into Windows at all?
Luckily, there’s a way to launch System Restore even when the machine won’t boot into Windows as it usually does. You can simply follow the procedure detailed below to boot your PC into Safe Mode with Command Prompt and run System Restore from there.
If your PC is running Windows 7, booting into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt” is pretty easy. Here’s how:
1 – With the computer powered down, press the power button.
2 – Immediately after pressing the power button, start pressing the F8 key repeatedly until a menu appears on the screen.
3 – Select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the menu. Your computer should now boot up into Safe Mode and display a DOS-style command prompt.
4 – Once you’re at the command prompt, type rstrui.exe and then press the Enter key. That should launch the System Restore utility.
If your PC is running either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, the F8 key for booting into Safe Mode is disabled by default.
However, if the system won’t boot up into Windows it should display the Windows RE screen (RE stands for Recovery). However, if it doesn’t try pressing the F11 key after the very first screen in the boot process is displayed.
Once you see the Window RE screen you can follow a few prompts to boot the system into Windows’ Safe Mode. Here’s how:
1 – Click Troubleshoot.
2 – Click Advanced options.
3 – Click Startup Settings.
4 – Click Restart.
5 – Select one of the Enable Safe Mode options. Note: The option you choose will depend on what you wish to do while the PC is in Safe Mode. If you want to initiate a System Restore you would need to choose the Enable Safe Mode with Command Prompt option).
The computer should now boot into the Windows’ Safe Mode state that you selected from the menu. You can now follow the steps listed at the beginning of this post initiate a System Restore.
6 – Once the PC has booted into Safe Mode and you’re at the command prompt, type rstrui.exe and then press the Enter key to launch the System Restore utility.
And now one final note: Just because Microsoft decided to disable the F8 key for booting Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 into Safe Mode, you aren’t stuck with that decision. You can easily enable the F8 key with a simple tweak.
If you would prefer using the F8 key instead of wading through the recovery menus to boot into your system into Safe Mode feel free to follow the instructions in the post below that matches your Windows version:
- This post explains how to enable the F8 key for booting into Safe Mode in Windows 8.1.
- This post explains how to enable the F8 key for booting into Safe Mode in Windows 10.
After you have enabled the F8 key, the procedure for booting into Safe Mode in Windows 8.1 or 10 is pretty much the same as doing so in Windows 7.