To use System Restore you must specify which Windows installation to restore

There are situations where you need to perform the System Restore operation. But at times you may face an error – To use System Restore you must specify which Windows installation to restore. This error is caused due to corrupted files in the system which pops up this error. Because of this error, you are not able to perform the system restore and this can be a hurdle to proceed further.

To use System Restore you must specify which Windows installation to restore

There are scenarios where you are not able to boot up once you encounter this error. This article provides solutions to solve this error. So, first, let us see what causes “To use System Restore you must specify which Windows installation to restore” error-

  1. Any of your previous actions might have corrupted System files and may cause this error.
  2. As BCD (Boot Configuration Data) is used to stores all data – it could be BCD Corruption

To use System Restore you must specify which Windows installation to restore

Here are the solutions you can try to fix this error-

1] Run System File Checker Offline

check system drive to fix system restore error

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, system files corruption we would need to run System File Checker Offline. Here is the way to do it-

Type the following commands one by one, to know your system’s drive.

Cd /


If the “Users” folder is seen, then this is your system’s drive. If not, you can change the drive by giving the alphabet of your volume as “D:”.

Then, give below command in command prompt (Here “C” is your system drive),

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=C:\ /offwindir=C:\Windows

Repeat steps sequentially as mentioned above.

2] Run DISM to repair a potentially corrupted system image

Here, we need to check the health of the system i.e, we need to check the integrity of the system files and service Windows. This is done using the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool. To run DISM, open the command prompt and give the following command

DISM /Image:C:\Windows /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:C:\Windows\WinSxS

Here, “C:” is system volume.

If it throws an error, insert Windows USB od DVD and give the following command-

DISM /Image:C:\Windows /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:esd:E:\Sources\Install.esd:1 /limitaccess

Here “E:” is your USB or DVD drive and replace it if it is showing another alphabet.

In rare cases, install.esd would be install.wim.

In such cases, you need to modify and give the following command,

DISM /Image:C:\Windows /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:wim:E:\Sources\Install.wim /limitaccess

Run the steps sequentially as mentioned above and check if this can solve your error.

3] Repair BCD corruption

Bootrec.exe is a built-in command-line tool, which is used to troubleshoot problems related to boot up and Windows Startup. We would use this tool to scan the system to solve boot up issues.

Make sure bootable USB or DVD is inserted into your system before running the following commands. To repair the BCD, open the command prompt and give the following commands one by one-

Bootrec /Fixmbr

Bootrec /FixBoot

Each of the above commands should output “The operation completed successfully”. If not try again.

Next, to rebuild the BCD  give the following command,

Bootrec /RebuildBCD

This should help.

4] Run Automatic Startup Repair


Run Automatic Repair from Advanced Startup Options screen and see if that helps.

5] Use the Windows Recovery Environment

repair your computer windows setup

If you have tried all the ways mentioned above, then this is the last way to fix the error. You need to run Windows Repair and using a Windows bootable USB or DVD.

Insert the bootable USB or DVD and boot into it and select “Repair your computer”.

If you are facing any problems, try doing these steps:

  1. Insert DVD drive and hard reset the computer.
  2. Once the manufacturer logo appears, press the key to enter into Windows Recovery Environment (eg. Press F2 for Dell users).
  3. Under UEFI firmware settings, change the Boot sequence to DVD Drive and Restart.
  4. Once the PC restarts, select the boot order and make changes accordingly as shown on the BIOS screen.

6] Try performing System Restore using Command Prompt

Open Command Prompt and give the following command

rstrui.exe /OFFLINE:C:\Windows

Replace “C” with the drive where Windows Installation is located.

One solution may work and other solutions may not work. Please make sure you follow all these steps carefully.

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Sridhar is a Software Engineer who loves to stay updated with developments in the world of technology. He is fond of writing everything related to Internet, Computers and Mobile and Desktop Operating Systems.