Restore Unbootable Windows System using Offline System Restore

Offline System Restore for Windows Vista and 7

Vista and 7 users have things slightly easier than XP users because an offline System Restore is available in 3 different options if the computer doesn’t boot. All of them are available either in the Advanced Boot options menu or from a Windows CD/DVD.

Using the Vista & 7 Advanced Boot Options menu

1. Press F8 during system boot, the same procedure if you’re going to Safe Mode. Then select Repair Your Computer. Not all systems will have this option, usually when you don’t let Windows create a 100MB hidden recovery partition during install. If not available, proceed to the CD/DVD solution.

Advanced boot options

2. When asked, select a keyboard layout, choose a username and enter a password if needed.

3. On the System Recovery Options menu, click System Restore then Next.

Choose a recovery tool

4. The option will then be available to select a restore point, select an appropriate point before the issue started and click Next. If you have any System Image backups available, they may also be listed here. The Type will be Backup and it should tell you in the description, they need to be avoided for now.

scan for affected programs

5. Check the information is correct in the confirmation window, click Finish and then Yes. After a successful restore, you will be asked to restart.

A Restore From a Windows Vista & 7 CD/DVD

If you can’t access or don’t have the option in the Advance Boot menu, you will need to start the computer with either a Windows system repair CD you created earlier from within Windows or a Windows install DVD. A Windows 7 ISO image can be downloaded if you need one. The ISO will then need burning to DVD or alternatively written onto USB flash drive.

1. After booting your computer using the Windows disc or USB and after pressing any key, choose your language and keyboard layout, click Next and then click Repair your computer at the bottom.

repair your computer

2. After the Windows install is searched for and detected, click on Next. You will now be at the System Recovery Options menu and can follow steps 3, 4 and 5 from the previous solution.

select an operating system to repair

Offline System Restore for Windows 8

It seems Microsoft wasn’t content with confusing people in Windows itself, and they’ve also confused things when you try and get to System Restore and Safe Mode during boot. The timing window for when you need to press F8 has narrowed considerably and now you’ll miss it more often than not. Also, a large proportion of users seem to find Shift+F8 is needed to get there, not simply F8.

Windows 8 Boot Options

1. After you manage to press either F8 or the combination at the right time, you still cannot get straight to the options and Windows will try to diagnose and repair the system which could take considerable time if it wants to check your hard drive for errors. If you’re lucky, it might actually fix your problem, but always said it cannot repair the PC for us.

2. Eventually you should end up at a screen which offers Shutdown or Advanced options, press Advanced options -> Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> System Restore.

Windows 8 system restore

3. Select an account and at the next screen enter a password if there is one. Click Next. From there, the procedure is the same as steps 4 and 5 in the “Using the Vista & 7 Advanced Boot Options menu” solution above.

The Windows 8 DVD / USB

1. Boot the computer using the Windows DVD or USB flash drive, make sure to press any key when prompted. Choose the language and keyboard layout, click Next and then click Repair your computer at the bottom.

2. Click Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> System Restore.

Windows 8 USB Troubleshoot

3. Choose the target operating system of Windows 8 and click Next. Like the procedure above, follow steps 4 and 5 in the “Using the Vista & 7 Advanced Boot Options menu” solution.

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