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Make System Restore Use Less Drive Space in Windows 7

Tired of the System Restore feature in Windows 7 using up way too much of your drive space? You can easily tweak it with a simple slider bar, you just need to know where to look.

Windows Vista made doing the same thing really difficult… you had to use a command line hack to force Vista to stop using so much space. Windows 7 makes it really easy.

Tweak System Restore Disk Usage

Start by right-clicking on the Computer icon, and going to Properties, which will take you into the System panel.

Computer Context Menu

Then click on the link on the left-hand side for System protection.

Control Panel System Protection Link

Now you should be looking at the System Protection tab, where you can create a restore point, use System Restore, or configure your settings. You’ll want to click on the drive you want to tweak in the list, and then click the Configure button.

System Properties

Now you should be in the Configure screen for the drive you selected above, where you can turn off system protection entirely, delete all but the latest restore points, change it to only restore files (and not settings), or drag the slider to use more or less space.

image

You should probably leave a decent amount of space—System Restore is a very nice feature that can help you out of a jam when your computer stops working.

Alternate Plan: Just Clean Up Old Restore Points

If you’d rather not mess with the amount of space allotted to System Restore, you can at least clean up all the rest of the old restore points (except for the last one). This will still keep you safe, but free up a lot of drive space.

Open up Disk Cleanup, then click on “Clean up system files” to re-open Disk Cleanup in administrator mode (or run it as administrator in the first place).

image

Head over to the More Options tab, and then click the Clean up button.

image

All the old restore points should be gone, and you’ll likely have a lot more disk space.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/29/09

Comments (6)

  1. TheBigOldDog

    How does it work have a dual-boot system? In the System Protection tab, you have the ability to add restore to the drive for the other OS (in my case XP). How does the restore point work in that case? Will it roll-back the other drive from within Windows 7? I wonder what gets saved when you create a restore point for any drive other than C: (The Win7 drive). Anybody know? If you boot into XP, I wonder if it’s native Recovery even works anymore.

  2. wickdc

    Hi,
    Be default windows vista keeps 7 days of system restore points. I would like to keep more days of restore points but without using my disk space. How can i backup the restore point file to another disk?

  3. Daniel

    This is great and I’ll definitely implement it. My problem, however, is that Windows 7 automatically tries to create restore points and system images on my E drive, which only has about 15GB to begin with. Even one restore point takes up too much space! How do I get Windows 7 to let me create restore points on the C drive?

  4. Jon

    Windows Vista had this ability as well but controlled through a command line configuration instead. Glad to see them make it easier to configure. By default it only uses up 10% of available storage space anyway IIRC. It’s useful for not only restoring from before an application/driver caused instability it is also useful for restoring files from previous versions.

    @BigOldDog
    Why are you dual booting with Windows XP anyway? Use Windows XP Mode (Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate) or a VM through VirtualBox if you need compatibility with older applications.

  5. Kalle

    How can I do this same in Vista?

  6. Jon

    This link gives you a step by step guide to change it in Windows Vista.

    http://www.vista4beginners.com/System-Restore-Space-Used

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