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Restore the Windows System State

Windows System State is designed primarily for disaster recovery by restoring the registry, boot files, system files, Active Directory, and more. When used correctly in combination with a File System backup, a machine can be brought back to the exact state it was in at the time of backup.

A walkthrough of a complete system recovery, including File System and System State, can be found in Bare Metal Disaster Recovery with ZCB.


The entire contents of the Windows System State backup will be restored. Selective restore of individual System State components is not possible.

By default, System State will restore to the Original Location and Overwrite Existing files.

Additional Requirements

System State restores have additional requirements.

  • The Windows version, including Service Packs, of the restore machine must match the original machine where the System State backup was taken. 
    • For example, if the original machine was Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2, the machine accepting the restore must also be Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2.
    • Any variation will result in failure to restore.
  • It is strongly recommended to restore System State to identical hardware as the original machine. 
    • Restore to similar hardware is usually possible, but may result in errors or failure to restore. 
    • The less similar the hardware to the original, the less likely it is that the System State restore will succeed.

System State restores to a Domain Controller with the Active Directory role can be very complex. Please refer to How to Restore System State on an Active Directory Domain Controller for full details.

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