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Windows 10 Restore Points Don't Always Work

Nothing brings out the worst in Microsoft quite like Windows 10 updates. Whether it's forcing updates on users at the worst possible times, releasing major updates months after they were supposed to debut, or severely reducing performance with cumulative updates, the company's had a rough go. A support article discovered on May 17 by Bleeping Computer adds one more thing to the list: Windows 10 restore points don't always work as intended.

Having a restore point is a simple enough concept. Updating any software can lead to unexpected problems, so it makes sense to have a back-up plan in place. That's exactly what the restore point is meant to be. Windows 10 users are supposed to be able to identify a restore point, install an update, and then be able to roll back to the restore point if that update doesn't work as expected.

Unfortunately, just like a save file, the restore point can malfunction. Here's what Microsoft said in the support article (opens in new tab):

"During the system restore process, Windows temporarily stages the restoration of files that are in use. It then saves the information in the registry. When the computer restarts, it completes the staged operation. [...] In this situation, Windows restores the catalog files and stages the driver .sys files to be restored when the computer restarts. However, when the computer restarts, Windows loads the existing drivers before it restores the later versions of the drivers. Because the driver versions do not match the versions of the restored catalog files, the restart process stops."

Microsoft shared two workarounds, one for people who can't load after trying to restart their system and one for people who want to avoid this problem in the first place. Recovering from a failed restart simply requires selecting "Disable driver signature enforcement" in the Windows Recovery Environment and then letting the system restart as usual. Avoiding the issue is as easy as using Windows Recovery Environment instead of the Settings dialog.

Those aren't bad, so far as workarounds go. But having to look up Microsoft's support article on the subject is the last thing someone wants to do if they're in a position where they want to go back to a restore point anyway. The feature is supposed to offer a save haven for people who know better than to blindly trust a Windows update. If it can't do that in a way that doesn't require a support article to understand, how useful is it, really? This is why it's good to have a backup, in case you need to factory reset your Windows 10 PC.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.