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Change How Often System Restore Creates Restore Points in Windows 7 or Vista

System Restore is one of the better features in Windows 7 and Vista… spend any amount of time on our forums and you’ll see how often it solves issues… but it’s like a black box, nobody knows how it really works, or when it’s doing things. So how do you change when it creates snapshots?

Windows 7 or Vista uses the built-in Task Scheduler to kick off most maintenance tasks, instead of requiring something to be running all the time. By going into Task Scheduler we can actually change the schedule of main system tasks, including System Restore.

Change Schedule for Automatic System Restore Points

Type in “Task Scheduler” into the start menu search box, or browse through the start menu’s Administrative Tools section.

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Once you’ve got Task Scheduler open, look under Microsoft \ Windows \ SystemRestore on the left-hand pane.

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Now you’ll see a single item in the middle pane that says “SR Queued Multiple triggers defined”. Double-click on that item to change the details.

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The Triggers tab is the first place you’ll want to look, and you’ll notice that by default System Restore is set to run at startup(more on that below), and at midnight every day.

To change the trigger, click on one of the items and then Edit to change the trigger.

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The Edit Trigger dialog allows you to change all sorts of settings, the first one to notice is that the “At startup” task is set to also “Delay task for 30 minutes”, meaning that the system restore task won’t happen during boot.

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If you look at the other trigger that is scheduled for midnight, you can choose the time of day that it runs… midnight might not be the best time for you, so you can change it to some other time if you’d like, or even schedule it to run weekly instead of daily.

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The Conditions tab allows you to tell the task that even though it’s set to start at a particular time, it still shouldn’t start unless the computer is idle, or not to run on battery power.

Note that this overrides anything set in the Triggers section, so even though by default Vista schedules System Restore for 30 minutes after startup, it won’t kick in if you are using the computer.

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One of the more interesting settings here is the option to “Stop if the computer ceases to be idle”, which means that even though System Restore might kick off after 10 minutes of idle time, it will stop if you come back to the computer. It’s also interesting to note that according to these settings, a computer only used on battery power will never have a restore point created… interesting.

The History tab will show every time the task has run in the past, and what the output was.

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I wouldn’t recommend changing the default settings too much, because system restore is a very useful tool. You should also keep in mind that installing software usually automatically triggers a restore point, or you can always create a restore point manually.

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 05/5/08

Comments (15)

  1. Joe

    Another method for changing the system restore frequency would be to use this small tool:
    http://www.vista4beginners.com/CSRF

  2. whoisvaibhav

    I used to be a Restore function user (when I first discovered it in XP), but after about 6 months of never using it, I just turned it off. Never needed it since. I guess I have been lucky…

  3. jack

    Very impressive! I had no idea there were so many options in the task manager. You should write up some more about setting up tasks.

  4. techbrian

    Sweet, great article.

    System restore has saved me dozens of times, and I always recommend it to my clients. It almost always seems to fix the problem when nothing else does.

  5. Chris

    After trying and trying to get system restore to create automatic points on my home basic laptop I gave up, downloaded a script which I’ve setup on task scheduler to run once a day.

  6. Akshay

    Providing a link from my blog to this page. It will prove very useful for Vista users.

  7. Mike McNamara

    Great improvement in Vista. As well as the scheduled events I always make one before major s/w installs along side Registry Exports/backups.

    However, it does suck up lots of space on the hard drive, so I regularly clean up once a week, getting some 5/7GB of space back each time. It’s a shame getting space back has to be done manaully.

  8. Johnny

    I have understand “how the system restore work”? but as we set a restore point, the question is; Can system restore remove my recent installed program?

    cheers

  9. magic

    I have set the task scheduler to create a system restore point daily. I am able to view the history thru the task scheduler; however, when I want to restore to a previous point only the current day’s restore points are displayed.

    How can I get more restore point options?

    Thanks.

  10. jefferson state steph

    I have the same question as magic – I’ve created a system restore point, but it won’t show up on the list of restore point options, even though I’ve checked the box to show restore points older than five days. How can I get the restore point date I created to show in the list of restore point options?

    Many thanks and blessings to all …

  11. Zibiza

    Thank you – very helpful – used it for Windows 7.

  12. chrisw

    I have the same problem as magic and steph….the created point does not show up on the list of restore point options.

  13. Mary

    Helpful as always. But why do I need both the midnight and start up options? I turn off every night and reboot the next morning. Wouldn’t the start-up option be enough? Maybe redundancy is a good thing but it seems to me I’m using up space that might better be spent.

    Which brings me to the question of how much restore-point space is ideal, disk space notwithstanding.

  14. magic

    Has anyone been able to come up with a way to access earlier restore points? I know that the creation depends upon space available, but surely there is a way to get to earlier restore points even if the max. space has been used. I desperately need to restore earlier than the current date (5/2/2011).

  15. Dart Eksem

    @magic
    Previous restore points are deleted automatically if there is not enough disk space allocated for restore points. You need to increase the allocated space from Computer>Properties>System Protection>Configure. However, if a restore point is deleted, there is no way to access it, so you need to increase the space BEFORE creating the restore point you are interested in.

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