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!)

104 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/

    • The link on this 10 June 2013 comment works, and so does the program, although the UI is clunky and caused me a couple of false starts.

      On the other hand. System Restore Explorer did not work in Windows 8.1 updated to the date of this e-mail. I got to the list of available restore points and clicked on the most recent one before I overwrote my file, but nevertheless the only action availabe was still just “delete”. The “mount” button did not ungrey itself.

  • 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

  • When trying to use SRE on Vista I get “Error Value Does Not Fall Within Expected Range”. What can I do to put in the correct value?

  • Hi Nic,

    I have a computer that suffered a loss due to the CryptoWall virus and all documents were encrypted. The system restore points were deleted, but I have recovered them. I have recovered a number of other files from other parts of the drive so I am certain the restore points are viable, but would love to see what is in the them as we may be able to do a complete restore if we can get in there. However, threading them into the System Volume Information folder on the same and newly reformatted computer is not working.

    Any ideas how we can mount the system restore points like an archive individualy? Any assistance you can give would be awesome!

    Thanks,

    Tyler

  • Hi Nic,

    Is it possible to find / view and restore bookmarks / .bak extension (Chrome Bookmarks particularly) permanently deleted from AppData / Win 7 system, through your developed SRE solution?

    In simple words, can Chrome bookmarks .bak file get recovered as well?

    Your instant response will be highly appreciated, thank you…

  • Great program. Works nicely. Its slow to start up from time to time.

  • Hello, I can’t install the software as I get the following error message: “installation directory must be on a local hard drive”. I’m trying to install it on local hard disk partition C: (Windows 7 x86). Thanks.

  • Just wanted to thank you for creating this program, very very useful.

  • Hi Nic, is there a way to use your util to mount / extract Restore point of another computer. I have my home desktop 8.1 which will not boot into Windows after some windows patch update. Tried all possible ways, Start up / repair error log say Registry is corrupt / cannot be repaired. Restore does not work using any of the 3-4 restore points, complains about some JSQuery file in the IE temp folder being corrupt in each of the Restore point.

    Using a Linux boot disk I managed to mount the HD and copy the Restore point to my laptop and thought would point your tool to that restore point, extract the Reg hives, copy them to the original messed up system and reboot. But then realized your tool did not have such an option. I tried to be sneaky, copied that restore point to the same Sys vol info location on my laptop and even tried renaming that restore point to a restore point which was on my local system. But it would just disappear and reappear back with the original name.

    Any pointers. I guess your tool is simply reliant on the Vol shadow APIs to mount and extract the restore point but was wondering if there is way to trick or hack its DB to make it consider the remote Restore point as its own local restore point.

    So in short, I want to be able to mount and extract the Reg files of a restore point copied from another computer.

    Thank you and keep up the good work.

    • Your spot on, I rely on the Volume Shadow Copy API’s. I’m not aware of any way to achieve what you are after, but I haven’t been doing much development in this area recently, so it may be possible.

    • Jigs, i’m in the same, or simillar, situation, look;

      My O.S. is Winsows Ultimate 64bits.

      *VSS has been disabled.

      *VS copies has been deleted, previously were deleted the store points (i’m a Little confused about these two apparently different things: Restore Points/Shadow Copies).

      *Restore System has been disabled.

      Plugging the disc to another machine i’ve been able to “see” into “System Volume Information” folder, through Recuva, large deleted (but recoverable) files with this kind of names; {3cfc80e0-be42-11e5-a950-f46d04d75d0c}{3808876b-c176-4e48-b7ae-04046e6cc752}, …are this large files Restore Points or Shadow Copies?, are the same thing, or very different?

      Well, just in order to experiment i’ve saved one of those files & after a lot of trys i’ve been able to mount this file as a virtual DVD-rom (through a non-commercial version of DaemonTools Light). Just in case, i’ve made an image of this virtual unit through Testdisk. Later i’ve used Photorec & extracted thousands of files from from the .dd image.

      Obviously, this restore point (or shadow copy?) has not the files that really matters, mostly of the files are Little images, txt’s, system files, & all kind of temporary files coming from the activity of the web browsers.

      I’m begging for someone who tell me that is posible to get back a deleted shadow copy, or several of them. The problem is that i don’t know where to search for those “Sadow Copies”, or if those files has some kind of name to search for.

      I was able to “rebuild” the “System Volume Information” folder, these are the files i’ve recovered:

      *SPP (folder in which is contained the “OnlineMetadataCache” sub-folder)

      *{7048df7f-d34b-11e5-b260-f46d04d75d0c}{3808876b-c176-4e48-b7ae-04046e6cc752} (large system file).

      *{3808876b-c176-4e48-b7ae-04046e6cc752} (64kb system file).

      *MountPointManagerRemoteDatabase (0kb system file).

      *tracking.log

      The very unknown (for me!) thing, is how to set the relationship between this recovered “System Volume Information” folder & the Windows registry. I assume/wonder that if this relationship is rebuilted, we’ll be able to recover entirely deleted shadow copies. Can someine tell me if i’m totally wrong about this?

      I’ve made some proofs, as delete many large files from my disk when System Restore is active, & later, obviously, i was able to recover all those file by simply navigate into the restore points through “System Restore Explorer” & “ShadowExplorerPortable” apps.

      How to rebuild a recovered SVI folder-WindowsRegistry relationship; is there a chance?

      I’m sorry for this so large question…

      Thx a lot in advance for the sacrifice of this part of your valuable time!

    • see my post on 23/3/16 below – new version I have created allows mounting of points from drives removed from other computers!

  • Hi Nic,
    Thanks so much for System Restore Explorer. It allowed me to restore a Google Chrome bookmarks file. I never thought that System Restore would backup a user file like this and had all but given up hope when I saw a reference to your program. I downloaded and ran your program and then was pleasantly surprised to see the bookmark files present in the mounted restores. Was then able to copy the bookmark file to the current Chrome profile in AppData. Fantastic! Thanks so much!
    Bob Niemann
    Minnesota, USA

  • Robert Banister

    Hey there NIC,
    Excellent program. I am very impressed on how you found the solutions to create this program. I have been searching for ways to SAVE these SYSTEM RESTORE files in C:\System Volume Information, off to a flash drive. Because VIRUSES and such can delete these RESTORE POINT, I thought it would be a great idea to save these files to an external device, then, when needing to go back to a certain restore point, just copy these files back into C:\System Volume Information.
    WOULD BE A GREAT BENEFIT IF YOU COULD ADD THIS TOOL TO YOUR PROGRAM… Great Job on your TOOL. THX

  • I get an error when launching the program:

    Value was either too large or too small for an Int64

    I got many restore points and it turns out they have become corrupted and I need to restore my update history so yeah…

    I thought I could browse it and restore it

    • I’m getting the same error. I tried uninstalling and re installing and I receive the same error. It used to work fine before I had to restore my system with True Image. Did you ever fix the problem? If so how?

  • Nic – you’ve just saved a huge amount of my time! I lost some important files and was able to use your software to restore them to what I needed! YAY! 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Hi Nic,

    I know you’re not developing this anymore but i feel like i don’t understand how to use this tool and maybe it’d be easy to help me out. It runs successfully, and it shows one restore point (dont know why just one – probably because of my space restrictions on restore points) but when I click mount on it, it only creates a symlink called ShadowCopy1 in my C drive – this symlink is invalid, it points to \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy1 – a folder that’s not actually accessible and so I can’t follow the symlink. Any ideas? I don’t even know how to unmount it now, because the unmount option is greyed out on the restore points. Just randomly guessing, seems like your symlink creation procedure doesn’t finish properly – it creates an invalid symlink but the software doesn’t know any mounting happenes so it won’t let me unmount it anymore. (i’m on windows 8.1 btw)

  • It works on Windows 10 RTM as well.

  • I tried it yesterday on Win 8.1.
    It was really easy & worked as described
    What a great tool!! Up to now I did this manually.
    & it takes forever. Now only a few minutes!!
    Great idea.
    Regards,
    Richard

  • After I first installed it the program didn’t appear in my list of programs. I installed it again, and now it is there. However, it only shows the two restore points that were created as a result of the installation, so it is no help at all to me.

    • Windows Installer creates those two restore points. You have to have System Restore enabled and of created restore points. This tool doesn’t actually create the restore points, it just let’s you browse their contents.

      • Hey Nic! I’m very excited about your program! Here’s my question: for several days I was cutting and pasting into a word document (let’s say from the 24th-28th), which I didn’t save (my bad)). On the 28th Windows did an Update, and shut down my computer while I was asleep. I know I have a Restore Point on the 26th, when I know the doc I’m looking for (Document4) was being autosaved….Do you think I could use your program to find it? Thanks so much, and either way I’m glad to know your program exists!

  • Hello! I just wanted to comment and let anyone who might need this know that this program also works on windows 10! I lost everything when updating and this tool helped me get all my lost files back. It literally saved my life. Thanks!!

  • Fantastic tool! Ran it on Windows 7. Recovered a powerpoint file that was accidentally overwritten. What a life saver. Thx!

  • Great stuff!
    Just to let you know that it works ok on Windows 10 Pro.
    Thank you very much Nic.
    Ton

  • I have a VERY messed up issue with a windows 8.1 install post ahci driver install, and I cannot even boot into windows recovery etc. I used your tool with the os hdd taken out and hooked up as external drive on another computer. Amazingly, it found and read my system restore point no problem!

    My Question: Is there any way to restore this point to my os drive that is currently slaved as an external?

    • It was never designed to support this scenario and I very much expect it will fail. Unfortunately I am no longer working on this tool so I can’t provide any support. The source code is freely available on Github.

      • Nic, No problems. I managed to get things to work by swapping it in as master in my other laptop, where I could change the bios modes more freely. I honestly cannot believe the lack of attention to not bricking peoples devices in the last few years!

    • I’m sorry Seth, may be i’m late now, but, did you try to fix through the Boot or Start up Fix with the W8.1 install usb/disc?

  • hey I cannot figure out how to download system restore explorer

    Failed to send your message. Please try later or contact administrator by other way

    • Sorry Contact Form plugin configuration is currently broken, download link is at the bottom of the post. I am no longer working on this tool.

  • Hi

    Have been using your fantastic program for a while now

    As you were no longer developing it – I decided to write a new version which also allows you to mount recovery points from other drives as well – so if your system has two drives then you can see points from both

    It also works if you connect a drive from another computer – so you can then mount and recovery files from that drive just like any other drive

    My version requires .NET 4.5 or later to be installed and also the visual c++ 2013 redistributables

    Hope it works for others to use – let me know how you get on

    http://www.pcassistonline.co.uk/test/shadow copy explorer.zip

      • Darren – the test/ShadowCopyExplorer.zip was not found 4/19.
        It worked today. Thanks.

        There are problems with SRE and Pruit for large Chrome Bookmarks files (>3MB) on Win8.1. I’d like to try your .net4.5 version.

        • I tried Darren’s ShadowCopyExplorer. It also fails for large Bookmarks files. The files extract OK (correct size, date), but when you try to open them with WordPad, which should be OK, they’re text files, WordPad hangs on damage as you try to scroll down.

          • Darren’s ShadowCopyExplorer works as advertise! The problem encountered is specific to my Win 8.1 laptop or my elaborate bookmarks file. Otherwise it works as expected. I’ve tried it on other machines.

      • Jason Greenlight

        Hi Darren, i’ve just downloaded your version of Nic’s great work. I’m wondering; if your soft is capable to see Shadow Volume Copies in drives from other computers, it seems that you’ve solved many essential issues about the relationship between the Windows registry and the VSC regions of a drive. So…, if a VSC is deleted, by accident, drive damage or ransomware as Teslacrypt, Cryptowall..; could be possible that your future improvements target those deleted sectors as an attempt to recover them?

        Thx a lot for your valuable time.

        • Hi Jason

          It already allows you to see the shadow copies on the drive of another computer if say it won’t boot etc – if you remove the drive from one computer and connect it to another and then run my program it works

          As for seeing/recovering deleted points – I’m not sure how I would even go about that to be honest – as depending on version of Windows they are stored in strange ways and in different locations – so would probably require running a data recovery program first to recover all deleted data and then running my tool to see if you can access the shadow copies – but like anything deleted, unless it is recovered quickly before parts of it overwritten it is unlikely to work

          Ransomware often uses the window system tool vssadmin.exe to delete the points – for my customers I am creating a tool which stops this running either by permissions or renaming it – then most crypto.. can’t delete the points. The same tool blocks cipher.exe which stops them encrypting files as well

          • Jason Greenlight

            Thx a lot for your valuable reply!

            Yes, i’m now researching about to recover the whole content of the System Volume Information’s folder. Actually i was experimenting (before your great work on the Nic’s soft) about it through the free Recuva version…; once the folder structure is rebuilted i’ve done a .dd image of that folder through Testdisk. After that, i’ve mounted the .dd as a virtual dvd-rom through the free version of Daemon Tools. Then i’ve exctracted thousands of little healthy files from there, totally healthy, but most of them are little txt & jpg, seems as temporal files, no one user documents &/or personal files.

            Now i’m gonna try to infect a system with the worst cryptovirus possible, i’ll try to rebuild the SVI folder through much pro softs (as R-Studio, Spinrite & AOMEI) & later i’ll search for VSCopies using your improvements.

            Btw, you’ve made a great job about the interface & the new capabilities, THX A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!

            I’ll keep you updated about my progress in this hard challenge, perhaps an automation of the whole thing could be performed by your skills, if the try that i’m gonna do is succesfull, & if you find it usefull.

            Cheers.

          • Jason Greenlight

            I’m sorry, forgotten to say that cryptovirus can be defeated as you’ve said, yes, but the loses of data in the world are catastrophic before we knew how to stop the extorsionists, i’m tryin’ to find a way to recover, at least, some data for the old victims that i know.

            Now i’m thinking about this scenario;

            *i recover an entirely SVI folder to another drive.
            *i put the recovered SVI folder in the original disk.
            *i connect the drive to my machine.
            *i boot my Windows…; & here is the question; if my VSS service is active…, it will delete the SVI recovered folder in the testing disk once my system booted up…?, may i disable my VSS service before all the op in order to let SRE see the Restore Points of the testing disk?

            I know that i must give, to the recovered files inside the SVI folder, certain parameters, as hidden & system/guid, otherwise the SVI folder is equal to nothing for the system…, but i’ve experienced instant deletion of those files once a system starts, i think because the Windows registry does not allow to “live” unregistered system files in the O.S…

            What do you think about it?

            Sorry for take of your valuable time this way!

            🙂

      • My amended and updated version can now be found on my website at the following location

        http://pcassistsoftware.co.uk/

  • UNBELIEVABLE! This is valuable software that should be part of Windows! You should get a medal for developing this utility. Thanks so much.

  • My amended and updated version can now be found on my website at the following location

    http://pcassistsoftware.co.uk/

  • Darren,

    I’m attempting to view Shadow copies on a drive from another system. I can’t get it to show any restore points, but I know they are there. Do you have any tips for how to get it to look specifically at one drive on your system? Thanks!

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