Control Windows System Restore using Command Prompt

System Restore is a feature that is integrated on the Windows XP, 7, 8, etc. operating system. This feature enables you to restore or roll back to a point on computer where the computer was functioning normally or to a state before any malfunction or failure of the system. It brings back all the system files, registry keys, installed programs, etc. that was present at that state. System restore creates copies of files on user command before any changes occurred on the computer. This occurs upon installation of a new driver or upon updating windows. Follow this tutorial to manage your system restore from the command prompt.

manage windows system restore from command prompt

The size of the system restore varies with the operating system. However, it ranges over some Gigabytes. Windows 7 Pro system with a 128 Gigabyte SSD main drive has a system restore space of 5.86 Gigabytes of storage and that of Windows 8 system which has a 180 Gigabyte SSD provides restore storage use of 3.09 Gigabytes.

The size of system restore can however be managed on individual drives, or turn it off completely. To do so go to Start > Control Panel > System and Security > System > Advanced system settings > System Protection.

Click on configure in the menu which will open the system restore preferences for the selected drive. You can manage the size available to the feature i.e. either increase or decrease, or turn it off completely for the drive.

The individual System Restore points or display the storage use of all connected hard drives cannot be deleted at a time. To delete individual points in order to free up some space on the drive, you can use a program like System Restore Manager. Alternatively, you can use the Windows command line and the vssadmin command to deal with these issues.

Follow the steps to manage the system restore using command prompt.

  • Open an elevated command prompt.
  • For Windows 7 – Click on the start menu, then All Programs > Accessories. Right-click the Command Prompt and select Run as Administrator from the context menu.
  • Windows 8 – Tap on the Windows-key to open the startpage. Enter cmd here, right-click on the Command Prompt result, and select Run as Administrator from the bottom toolbar.
  • Upon opening of the command prompt type the commands given below. The functions of the following commands are listed sidewise.
  • vssadmin list shadowstorage – This command will display all connected hard drives and their used, allocated and maximum shadow copy storage space.
  • vssadmin list shadows – This command will display the lists all existing shadow copies on the system
  • vssadmin delete shadows /for=c: /oldest – This command will delete the oldest shadow copy on drive C
  • vssadmin delete shadows /for=d: /all – This command will delete all existing shadow copies on drive D
  • vssadmin delete shadows /for=c: /shadow=ID – Deletes the selected shadow copy. The IDs are listed when you use the list shadows command.
  • vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=c: /maxsize=2GB – Sets the shadow storage for drive C to 2 Gigabyte. It may also  delete the existing restore points from the oldest in case space is not sufficient to store all System Restore points

Windows Server admins has the authority to use other drive or volumes for storage of the system restore points by using the command vssadmin add shadowstorage.

Upon using the command listed above you can easily manage your system restore point without use of any extra software.


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