System Restore Explorer

System Restore Explorer is a tool which allows you to browse system restore points on your computer and select individual ones for deletion should you wish to free up some disk space. It also allows you to mount the contents of a restore point into a folder so that you can browse and copy individual files, without the need to perform a full system restore.

System Restore Explorer

When you select a restore point and mountit the tool will create a shortcut to that particular restore point which will allow you to browse the contents and copy files. Once you have finished with a particular restore point you can either use the tool to unmount it or simply delete the shortcut (deleting the shortcut will not delete the restore point).

Mounted system restore point

I have tested this tool on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 beta, unfortunately the SRRemoveRestorePoint function didn’t appear to function as described on Windows XP, so I have had to restrict the use of this tool to Windows Vista and newer (and there is a check in the install and the app :) )

System Restore Explorer uses AlphaVSS, which is a .net library which allows access to the Volume Shadow Copy Service. The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is a set of COM interfaces, delivered with various versions of Microsoft Windows, that implements a framework to allow volume backups to be performed while applications on a system continue to write to the volumes. Hence how system restore points are created!

If you’d like to give System Restore Explorer a try then you can download it here, please feel free to leave feedback via the comments section.

History

  • 0.0.1-Internal release
  • 0.0.2-Alpha release, initially just a blog posting (and only allowed restore points to be deleted, not browsed)
  • 0.0.3-Alpha release, this was the first version to allow a restore point to be mounted and the contents to be browsed. Zip file only, no install and only worked on x86 systems.
  • 0.0.4-Beta release, now with installer, and AlphaVSS support for both x86 and x64 versions of Windows.
  • 0.0.5-Beta release, updated AlphaVSS components, made changes to auto-update system, there is now a menu option to disable the server check (Some people appear to be paranoid about apps that make an outgoing connection!)

49 Responses to “System Restore Explorer”


  • I made a previous version file restorer that works like the Microsoft version that works only in the Vista Business and all version of 7 and 8. It works on the level of individual files, not the whole System Restore snapshot. If you are looking for an individual files previous version, it may be easier to use: http://sourceforge.net/projects/vistaprevrsrcvr/

  • Used this utility to recover file(s) that were not in Recycle Bin or avaialbe in Windows 7 File or Partiton Recovery. Worked exactly as described perfectly.

  • What an excellent article! I was referred to it as the solution to my problem of having deleted a windows.old folder after an upgrade to a windows 7 machine which turned out to have some critical data on it. This was a godsend, thank you so much.

  • I have my harddisk split into 3 partitions: C (System), D (Docs) and E (Backup). To (when rightclicking on a folder or file) use the “Previous Version” option I turned on System Restore for all these 3 partitions.
    The available stations as viewed in the System Properties Window are in this order: D then E and then C.
    Now, when using your System Restore Explorer I only can explore the Restore Point of the D partition so not C. I think this is because the D partition is on top of the list. When I turned of System Restore for D and E, then System Restore Explorer views the C Restore Point. But I don’t want to disable System Restore for D and E.
    My question: is there a way to change the Available Stations-order so to view the C System Restore Point and leave SR for D and E enabled?
    Thank you.

    • Hi, thanks for your message, unfortunately I have not seen this problem and I am not currently doing any active development on this project. There is no way to change the order of the partitions that are displayed in SRE. Sorry.

  • This tool is magic ! i first tried to restaure various system points via windows 7 as i accidentally deleted huge amount of precious datas which i thought were definitely lost. I was so desperated that i had to try something else. I googled ‘recover files folders datas windows 7′ by chance and i found this article. After installation, SRE showed me various system points (some of which were differents from w7). I tried one of them and all my datas were there and i was able to retrieve them. I couldn’t believe it ! thank you so much for this article and this great tool, you cannot imagine how much i’m relieved !

  • Awesome tool. It just saved us a ton of work recreating one of a kind shortcuts.

  • Extremely useful and helpful utility.
    A rare but much needed Windows Vista, 7, 8 tool.
    The SRE program saved a great deal of time and effort
    in trying to investigate and recover files and folders
    with regards to Windows restore points and operations.
    Much appreciation for the SRE program.

  • I updates the Previous Version program. It let now let’s you choose the individual file you want to see previous versions for on sny drive and then a list of those previous versions which are different from your current one are listed.

    You can then select one of them and do a Save As to save it to a new location. My software does not require you to wade through the Explorer trees of snapshots to see if your file has a previous version in a specific snapshot and whether it is different from your current one. It does it all for you. In that way it is more like the Windows Vista (only found in the Business and Ultimate versions) and 7 Previous Version feature than System Restore Explorer:

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/vistaprevrsrcvr/

  • When it will be new version for Windows 8???

  • Thank You Thank You Thank You. I have no idea why my document disappeared but 4 days work deadline 8 hours time. Your program is amazing.Wow now I must go and apologise to all the people I have yelled at for the past hour. You have saved me. Thanks Thanks Thanks again!!!

  • Really cool utility, works great on Windows 7, thank you!

  • Nic,
    This tool is awesome! Is there any way we can make it run on XP (a switch perhaps)?
    Thanks.

  • Nic,

    Hi. First off, amazing job on this tool. I was curious if you were willing to publish or email source code on request. Your program is amazing, however, if possible, I would like to make some small modifications. I am a C# programmer of some accomplishment, although I’ve never tinkered with this particular lib. I would like to be able to add some more user friendly features, such as selecting particular drives to load, as opposed to just a mass load of all available drives.

  • Getting error starting System Restore Explorer
    Specified cast is not valid
    Windows 7 Pro SP 1 Build 7601

  • Previous Version File Recoverer is an adware laced POS. Stick to Nic’s tool.

  • Thanks a lot for this – just used it to restore >20 desktop links to temporarily inactive network resources that were deleted with no rhyme or reason – or recycle bin.
    How stupid can OS developers be?
    Anyway, the so-called “System Maintenance troubleshooter” is now disabled ;-)

  • Ron schoenenberger

    down load link for latest version??
    Sorry if I”ts right in front of me

  • I tried your program out, all I get is this mysterious error message:

    Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

    Any ideas?

    Windows Vista Home Premium SP2 64-bit (all latest updates)
    5 Restore Points available

    • I’m sorry this isn’t working for you, but unfortunately I’m no longer supporting this software as I do not have time for updates and do not have Vista to test on.

  • Hello. Where may i download SRP? Many thanks

  • Awesome tool! Thanks so much for creating this!

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your tool was a life-saver for me today and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating it!

  • Does system restore explorer allow me to look at individual entries within the registry of the selected restore point? I don’t need to recover specific files; what I need to do is to internally examine previous registry states to see what might have changed (that damaged my operating system) when I installed a program. I am unable to actually perform a system restore – it fails every time. However, if I could manually examine the registry in previous restore points, perhaps I can locate the damaging changed entry or entries that took place since then.

    • SRE let’s you look at individual files (not registry keys) I guess you could extract a previous registry HIVE file and load it into a registry editor, but I don’t know for sure.

  • how can i recover deleted chrome history?

  • (Windows 8.1 64bit)

    Every time I run your application I get an error:

    System.FormatException: String was not recognized as a valid DateTime.
    at System.DateTimeParse.Parse(String s, DateTimeFormatInfo dtfi, DateTimeStyles styles)
    at .„.Compare(Object , Object )

    When I click “Continue” the error pops up one more time. Clicking “Continue” again and the application opens as normal. If I try to delete a restore point, another error pops up. Should mention that all of these errors say:

    String was not recognized as a valid Date Time.

    Could you please fix this? I would like to have a nice easy to use restore point manager.

    • I’m not sure what time zone you are in and how your dates are formatted, but I can not reproduce the problem on Windows 8.1 here. Unfortunately I don’t really have time to support this app any longer. This is why I released the source code onto github.com.

  • John Hanerurdger

    Thank you very much for this tool.

    Windows’ System Restore function works in strange and mysterious ways, restoring some file types but not others, and leaving many programs only half-functional.

    Thanks to this tool, I was able to restore the files of certain programs only, making them work again while still running off the restored, old version of Windows.

  • Thank you so much for this software, saved the folder that I worked on for hundreds of hours without destroying my latest stuff (by actually restoring to that point)

  • Wow, this clever, user-friendly little program has just made my day: after much desperate searching I was able to recover accidently overwritten AppData from a System Restore point, thereby recovering months of irreplaceable work. I was sure the data must be there, but Windows refused to let me at it, which was unbearably fustrating!

    Thank you very much, Nic for developing this fantastic life-saving tool!

  • Dear Mr Nic,

    I am thankful that I discovered your system restore explorer and just used it this morning (17 September 2014 – Singapore time) to recover and restore my desktop folders which I deleted completely by mistake.

    Your system restore explorer has been really superb, work so well in recovering deleted files/folder. Most importantly, it is extremely user-friendly.

    By the way, are you still revising & updating the system restore explorer which you have had written?

    Once again, thank you, Mr. Nic.

    Best Regards,

    LK WEE

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  • I have problem with the app: I have more than one drive in the system and apparently this app will only allow mounting of the System (C:) drive that has Windows. It doesn’t allow me to see or choose or mount the drive I need to restore files from!

    Also – why does the program attempt to access the Internet? My Windows 7 Firewall control blocked access to a website that ‘isn’t there’ as soon as this program was run: IP 198.91.81.2

  • By the way kudos to Nic for developing his tool and this nice website. Whereas my program might be better for individul file restores under tight time constraints System Restore Explorer and Shadow Explorer: http://www.shadowexplorer.com/, are clearly better than mine for doing bulk restores.

    Also, sorry for all these posts and “protesting too much”…

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