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System restore can disappear from the Start Menu for many reasons. It's easy to search for it, but learning to back up your computer is a better idea.

As usual, I go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools and listed there is System Restore. Well, now it's missing. How or even when it became missing I do not know. Do you know what might have happened and how to get it back? I have Windows 7 Home, 64 bit.

In this excerpt from Answercast #90 I look at how to find System Restore if it has disappeared from the Start Menu, and why you might not want to.

System restore disappeared

Well, I don't know what happened. That part is easy! I have lots of theories. I mean it could be as simple as having mistakenly right-clicked on it, and hit Delete, or something like that. It's very easy for these things to go missing.

Do I know how to get it back? Well, kind of sort of. We'll definitely get you access to System Restore very quickly, here in a second.

My real question is - do you even want to get it back? That's a whole other can of worms.

Get System Restore back

What I would have you do to get System Restore back is use Search.

In other words: bring up the Start menu and in that search box, down below, start typing "System Restore." While you do that, the search results will be updated and you'll find shortcuts to System Restore appearing.

I typically use the shortcuts you'll find in Control Panel. Those are the ones that are typically the most well defined and clearly purpose-specific. In other words you should see one shortcut for making a restore point and another shortcut for restoring to a restore point and so on.

So, that's the thing I would do to get at system restore right now.

You may be able to actually copy the links that show up there and paste them back into the menu where they originally were. But, ultimately, I'd be really tempted to just rely on search from now on.

Don't rely on System Restore

What I would not have you rely on is, well... System Restore.

My experience with System Restore, and the experience of people that I have contacting me with System Restore, is that it's just not that reliable. It doesn't restore what people think it restores - and it is all too common for restore points to go to missing, or for restores to fail.

Restore is not a backup

It is not a back up of your system - and in fact, it's a back up of your system that I typically recommend people rely on instead of system restore.

System Restore is nice... when it works. But, it just can't be counted on to work all the time.

So, I'll point you at "Why I don't like System Restore", an article I wrote on the topic a while back. In the interim, to continue to use System Restore, I'd simply use search on the Start menu.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Next from Answercast 90- Why doesn't CHKDSK work on my DVD drive?

Article C6271 - January 23, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Gary
January 23, 2013 4:00 PM

I have discovered the original is located here C:\Windows\system32\rstrui.exe
Which you can send a shortcut to the desktop, rename it: System Restore, copy & paste it back where it belongs.
I have never had system restore fail BUT I ALWAYS run it while in safe mode.
Thanks, Gary

BAW30s
January 26, 2013 6:00 AM

Leo's comments upon the fragility of System Restore are entirely corroborated by my experience. Malware, in particular, often protects itself by switching off System Restore and deleting all restore points. For that reason I do not use it but employ Comodo Time Machine or Horizon Rollback to take a full system snapshot which can also be accessed during the boot sequence to cover problems preventing full booting. I would concede, though, that such programs have their own problems (using significant hard drive space is one) and so need to be used with discretion.
On a similar point, a computer which doesn't boot but has an otherwise working System Restore can often be easily recovered by using a Microsoft Emergency Rescue Disk. This is a boot CD which can be made using a free program from Microsoft or downloaded from web sources. It (like some Windows 7 system disks) allows access to System Restore from outside the operating system. This is theoretically also possible from the Safe Mode command prompt, but a considerable amount of accurate typing is then required.

Lester
January 26, 2013 9:14 AM

I know you don't like System Restore, Leo. But it does have it's uses. For instance, if I make an experimental registry change, or install a test utility, I do a system restore point. This allows me to quickly reverse my test changes. I've never had that fail for me. Making and image backup is pretty time consuming for that kind of us.

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