How to Restore a Computer Back to the Date You Want

By Meg Mulvaney

Updated September 28, 2017

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Ever wish you could get your computer back to its original, default settings? Performing a system restore can return a computer to an unaltered or unharmed state. For a PC, this process is simply called System Restore; for a Mac, the only way to restore a computer is to use the restore discs that come with the computer. If you're using a Mac, you can choose to restore certain applications or the entire operating system, but if you're on a PC, using Windows' System Restore will restore the entire system, depending on when the restore points were set.

Restore a PC

Gain access to the computer administrative powers. If you log on as a guest or user other than the administrator, you cannot perform a system restore.

Back up programs you have recently created or downloaded if you do not wish to lose them. Use a flash drive, portable hard drive, or disc to save recent program files. After the system restore is finished, you can transfer the programs back over to your hard drive.

Go to the Start Menu and mouse over All Programs. Mouse over Accessories, then System Tools. Click on System Restore.

Under System Restore, select “Restore my computer to an earlier time.” Click Next.

The next page will say at the top, “Select a System Restore Point.” Select the date of your choice from the calendar. Microsoft recommends using the most recent restore point available, which is usually the previous day. However, you can choose from any date available on the counter. Keep in mind that whatever programs you downloaded after the date you selected will be wiped out by the system restore. If you did not back up these programs on an external drive you will no longer have access to them. You will not lose recent documents or e-mails, however, by performing a system restore. Click Next after you have selected your restore point.

Close any other open programs, as prompted by the current page. After you hit Next on this page, your computer will shut down and the system restore will take place. If it turns out that the restore was not necessary or caused more problems than it fixed, the process can be reversed.

Restore a Mac

Insert the system restore disc that comes with the computer.

A menu will appear with restore options. Unlike PCs, a Mac cannot be restored to a certain date, but you can choose which programs or applications to restore to their original settings and capabilities. Select your option from the menu: Restore all, Mac OS, Applications, Developer’s Tools, or applications.

Click Next to begin the restore process.