When backing up your computer’s data in Windows, you may come across the option to set restore points. All modern versions of Windows support restore points. You can use them to restore your computer to an earlier date. What are restore points in Windows exactly, and how do you set them?

The Basics of Restore Points

In Windows, restore points are snapshots of the Windows registry. They aren’t complete backups. Rather, each restore point contains Windows settings and other critical files from a particular time.

Restore points serve as a fallback in case Windows fails. Maybe Windows becomes corrupted, or perhaps it crashes and is unable to recover. Rather than completing wiping Windows from BIOS and installing a fresh copy of the operating system (OS), you can tap into a restore point. Using a recent restore point will roll back Windows to that time.

How to Set Restore Points

Windows will typically create or “set” restore points automatically once per day. You don’t have to perform any additional steps. The default Windows settings allow for automatic daily restore points.

There are other times, however, when Windows will create restore points. In addition to once per day, Windows will typically create a restore point each time you install new software. Maybe you’re installing a new word processor, or perhaps you’re installing a new utility program. Regardless, software installations will typically prompt Windows to set a new restore point.

Anytime that you mess with your computer’s hardware drivers, Windows will create a new restore point as well. Installing new hardware drivers, as well as updating existing hardware drivers, will result in a new restore point. You can always set restore points manually, but Windows will set them automatically once per day, when you install new software, and when you mess with your computer’s hardware drivers.

How to Restore Your Computer Using a Restore Point

To restore your computer using a restore point, navigate to the Windows control panel and choose the “Recovery” option. You should see a recovery option for “Open System Restore.” In the “Restore system files and settings,” window, click “Next.”

Now you’ll be prompted to select a restore point. You can choose any restore point that’s already been set. Whether you set the restore point, or if Windows set it automatically, you should see it. Clicking the restore point will allow you to roll back Windows to the time when it was originally set.