Start System Restore when you cannot log into Windows (from Advanced Boot)

System Restore is a great tool that allows you to revert Windows and its settings to a previous working state. This is useful when you encounter problems with drivers that destabilize the system or software that malfunctions. However, at times, some of the changes you make may affect your system so badly that you can no longer log into Windows. What can you do to make Windows work again? You boot System Restore and then use it to revert Windows to a working state. Here's how it is done:

NOTE: This guide covers Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. The first two operating systems are covered in the next section of this tutorial. Windows 7 is covered in the second section. If you use Windows 7, don't hesitate to scroll down a bit until you find the instructions that interest you.

How to start System Restore from Advanced Boot Options (in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1)

In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, you need to get to the screen with Advanced Boot Options. There are many ways to do that:

  • Boot from a USB memory stick with recovery tools. You can learn to create one from here: How To Create A Recovery Drive In Windows 10 and How to Create a Recovery Drive on a USB Memory Stick in Windows 8 & 8.1.
  • Boot from a system repair disc (CD or DVD). Learn how to create one here: What is a system repair disc and how to create one in Windows.
  • Boot from a setup disc or USB memory stick with the Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 installation. When it is loaded, choose the language and the keyboard layout you prefer, click Next and then on "Repair your computer."
  • If you are lucky and you can get to the sign-in screen, press and hold the SHIFT key on the keyboard and then in the Power menu, chose Restart. Windows reboots and it loads several boot options that are described later in this section.
  • If Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 fails to boot normally three times over, the fourth time it goes by default to an Automatic Repair mode. To trigger the Automatic Repair mode, you must interrupt the normal boot process three consecutive times: use the reset or the power button on your PC to stop it during boot, before it finishes loading Windows. If you use the power button, you might have to keep it pressed for at least 4 seconds to force the power off. When your PC enters the Automatic Repair mode, the first thing you see is a screen that tells you that the operating system is "Preparing Automatic Repair." Wait for Windows to try to make an automatic diagnosis of your PC. Then, on the "Automatic Repair" screen, press the "Advanced options" button.

Once you boot using one of the methods shared above, you get to a blue screen that shows you several options, similar to the one below. Choose Troubleshoot.

Then, click or tap Advanced Options.

Now you have access to several system recovery tools. Choose System Restore in order to start it. It should be the first on the list.

Windows takes some time to prepare System Restore. It may even restart your computer or device. When System Restore is ready, you are asked to choose a user account to continue. Select an account that is set as administrator on your Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 computer or device.

You are asked to enter the password for that account. Please pay attention to the fact that Windows shows you the keyboard layout it is using. If you need to change it, press "Change keyboard layout" and select another one. When ready, type the password into the appropriate field and press Continue.

System Restore is now started and you can use it to revert Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 to a previously working state.

From here on, the steps involved in restoring your system to a working state, are the same as those mentioned in this guide: 3 Steps to restoring your Windows PC to a working state, with System Restore.

How to start System Restore from System Recovery Options (Windows 7 only)

In Windows 7 it is slightly easier to get to the screen from where you can start System Restore. After starting your Windows 7 computer, press F8 on your keyboard. The Advanced Boot Options screen is shown. Select Repair Your Computer.

Another way is to create a system repair disc on another Windows 7 computer and boot from it. You can learn how to create one, from here: What is a system repair disc and how to create one in Windows.

You can also use a setup disc with Windows 7 and boot from it. After the setup is loaded, choose the language and keyboard you prefer and click Next. Do not click Install now. Instead, click the link that says: "Repair your computer." No matter which method you chose, the System Recovery Options window is loaded. Choose the keyboard language that you want to use and press Next.

You are asked to choose the operating system that you want to repair. Select it and choose Next.

At this step you may be asked to select a user account that is set as administrator and type its password. Do so and then click OK. One some systems, this step might be skipped by Windows 7.

Your System Recovery Options are displayed. Click System Restore.

System Restore is now loaded and you can use it to restore Windows 7 to a previous working state.

From here on, the steps involved in restoring your system to a working state, are the same as those mentioned in this guide: 3 Steps to restoring your Windows PC to a working state, with System Restore.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to start System Restore even when you cannot log into Windows, it will be easier to recover your computer or device to a previously working state. To make sure that System Restore is easy to access, don't hesitate to create a system repair disc or a USB flash drive with recovery tools while your Windows computer or device is working well. You will be happy you did so later on, when you encounter problems.