How to Selectively Delete System Restore Points?

The System Restore user interface doesn’t have a feature to remove individual restore points. However, it’s possible to do so using the Vssadmin command-line, PowerShell/WMI script, or or by writing a program which makes use of the SRRemoveRestorePoint API in Windows Vista through Windows 10.

Method 1: Using vssadmin console tool to delete a restore point

To delete an individual restore point in Windows 10, use the built-in vssadmin console tool. Use these steps:

1. Open an elevated command prompt window.

2. Type the following command and press ENTER:

vssadmin list shadows

vss list shadow copies restore points


C:\WINDOWS\system32>vssadmin list shadows
vssadmin 1.1 - Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2001-2013 Microsoft Corp.

Contents of shadow copy set ID: {6f104417-2f5a-4a06-a0d3-ada05061f7e7}
   Contained 1 shadow copies at creation time: 10/05/17 9:15:10 PM
      Shadow Copy ID: {b0c1ebeb-893e-4937-b3e0-e5bf3b96c6b1}
         Original Volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{098cc206-0000-0000-0000-500600000000}\
         Shadow Copy Volume: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy2
         Originating Machine: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
         Service Machine: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
         Provider: 'Microsoft Software Shadow Copy provider 1.0'
         Type: ClientAccessibleWriters
         Attributes: Persistent, Client-accessible, No auto release, Differential, Auto recovered

Contents of shadow copy set ID: {8b04f8ae-7806-45a6-94fb-fc82ce171027}
   Contained 1 shadow copies at creation time: 10/11/17 11:17:44 AM
      Shadow Copy ID: {3ba6f09f-efe0-400f-aaca-4c108a6035c5}
         Original Volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{098cc206-0000-0000-0000-500600000000}\
         Shadow Copy Volume: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy3
         Originating Machine: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
         Service Machine: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
         Provider: 'Microsoft Software Shadow Copy provider 1.0'
         Type: ClientAccessibleWriters
         Attributes: Persistent, Client-accessible, No auto release, Differential, Auto recovered

Contents of shadow copy set ID: {0b081d76-edba-4248-8e80-103664fe2129}
   Contained 1 shadow copies at creation time: 10/12/17 1:47:25 PM
      Shadow Copy ID: {d1a99397-2718-4a8f-b155-b1d02a64603c}
         Original Volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{098cc206-0000-0000-0000-500600000000}\
         Shadow Copy Volume: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy4
         Originating Machine: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
         Service Machine: DESKTOP-JKJ4G5Q
         Provider: 'Microsoft Software Shadow Copy provider 1.0'
         Type: ClientAccessibleWriters
         Attributes: Persistent, Client-accessible, No auto release, Differential, Auto recovered

The list of restore points / volume shadow copies available on your computer is displayed.

3. To delete a particular restore point, use the following syntax:

vssadmin delete shadows /Shadow={shadow copy ID}

Replace {shadow copy ID} placeholder with the actual shadow copy ID you determined in step 2 above.

For example, you may want to delete a restore point named “Test” — shown in the System Restore window.

list of restore points

The “Test” restore point corresponds to the shadow copy ID {d1a99397-2718-4a8f-b155-b1d02a64603c}. This was found by matching the shadow copy’s date and time from the vssadmin list shadows command’s output above. I’ve underlined that ID for easy identification.

So, this is the command you’d use to delete the “Test” restore point.

vssadmin delete shadows /Shadow={d1a99397-2718-4a8f-b155-b1d02a64603c}

delete shadow copies vssadmin

Press Y when you see the following prompt:

Do you really want to delete 1 shadow copies (Y/N): [N]?

The shadow copy or restore point is gone.

system restore point deleted

That’s how you delete individual restore points without using a third-party tool such as System Restore Explorer or CCleaner.

Additional Tips! To delete all restore points (shadow copies), you’d use this command-line:

vssadmin delete shadows /all

You can also delete all but most recent restore point using the Disk Cleanup utility. For more information check out article How to Delete System Restore Points in Windows?.

Method 2: Using third-party tools to delete a restore point

System Restore Explorer by Nic Bedford is a neat utility which makes use of this API, allowing you to browse system restore points on your computer and select individual ones for deletion. Not just that, you can also mount the contents of a restore point, browse and copy individual files, without having to do a System Restore rollback.

Select the Restore Point you’d like to remove, click Delete.

Recover Files

To recover files from a particular restore point / Volume Shadow Copy, click Mount. Browse through the folders and extract the files you need from the Shadow copy.

This utility was originally written for Windows Vista, but works flawlessly in higher versions of Windows, including Windows 10. If you liked this utility, head over to Nic’s Blog and leave your feedback.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

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