System Recovery in Windows 7

Before you start

Objectives: Learn how to restore to a previous point in time, and how to recover using system image in Windows 7.

Prerequisites: you should know about different recovery options in Windows in general.

Key terms: restore point, system image, recovery, Windows 7, advanced boot

 Restore Point

We can use restore points to recover from a damaged Windows installation. If we have problems with our system, but we can still log on to Windows, we can open up the Backup and Restore console in the Control Panel, and  choose “Recover system settings or your computer” option, which is located at the bottom.

 1 Backup and Restore

Recover System Settings Option

Here we have the choice to open system restore.

 2 Recovery

System Restore

When we open System Restore, we get this:

 4 System Restore

Restore Points

From here we can choose the restore point from the list. In our case we only have two restore points. In our case we will choose the latest one and click Next. On the next screen we will get a description of our action.

 5 Confirmation


Keep in mind that system restore does not touch our user files. Only system data and system settings will be affected. When we click finish, the restoration will begin. Reboot will be required.

System Image Restore

If restoring to a restore point doesn’t help, we can do a complete image recovery. If we go back to the Restore window, we will see a “Advanced Recovery Methods” option.

 5 3 Advanced Methods Option

Advanced Recovery Methods Option

In advanced methods, we can use a system image which we created earlier, or we can reinstall from scratch using Windows installation media.

5 3 Advanced Methods

System Image or Windows Reinstallation

When we try to use system image option, it will first ask us to back up existing files, before continuing. After that it will ask us to reboot our computer, after which we will be able to select the system image to restore from. The media on which the image is located has to be connected to the computer.

All this is great, but what if we can’t boot to our system at all.

Boot and System Startup Problems

If we can’t boot to our system at all, we can boot to Windows Recovery Environment using System Repair Disk, or Windows installation media, or we can push F8 key during the boot to see Advanced Boot Options. If we use Windows 7 installation media, the first thing we see is this screen, on which we can click Next.

 6 Install Windows

Windows Installation

On the next screen, instead of clicking the “Install now” option, we click the “Repair your computer” option. This will show us system recovery options.

 7 Repair Your Computer

Repair Your Computer Option

If we don’t have Windows installation media or System Repair Disk, we can try and press the F8 key on our keyboard during boot. We will get a menu like this:

 8 Advanced Boot Menu

Advanced Boot Menu

On this menu we select the “Repair Your Computer” option which will show us a list of recovery tools.

 10 Recover Options

Recovery Options

On this screen we will select System Image Recovery Option and then select the system image we created earlier. From this point on, we will be asked about how we want to partition our disks (do we want to keep current partitions or use partitions from the image), and we will also be warned that we will lose all current data on our disk (since the restore will use all data from the system image and overwrite all existing data).