Solved: You Must Enable System Protection on This Drive

You may get the error “You must enable system protection on this drive” when performing system restore in Windows 10/8/7. This page tells why it emerges and how to fix the error via CMD. Better way to protect Windows is provided as well.


By Delia Updated on October 18, 2022

Share this: instagram reddit

The issue: You must enable System Protection on this drive

Is there any way to enable system protection in Windows 7? Here is the thing, I cannot get into Windows currently and I cannot system restore back to my save points. It keeps saying ‘You must enable System Protection on this drive’. What should I do?

You must enable system protection on this drive

You may receive this message while performing system restore, that’s why you came to this page. Actually, this error is not uncommon in restoring. A user says he wants a system restore after upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10, because the OS runs really slow. But when he gets into System Restore option from troubleshoot options, this error stops him.

Another user says he installs some updates but unfortunately get into Windows repair loop at the end. Windows says there are multiple restore points to restore, but he gets the same message while restoring C: drive. So, why does this problem occur and how to fix it?

You need to enable System Protection for system restore

What is System Protection? According to Microsoft, System Protection is the feature to periodically create and save information about computer system files and settings. System Protection also saves previous versions of modified files. It saves these files in a restore point and creates these restore points before major system events such as installers or device drivers occur.

The drive with Windows installed will automatically turn on System Protection. But it may be turned off manually or by other applications. System Protection can only be turned on for drives formatted with the NTFS file system.

Generally, there are two uses of System Protection:

  • If your computer is slow or does not work properly, you can use System Restore (how to enable System Restore) and restore points to restore your computer's system files and settings to an earlier point in time.

  • If you accidentally modify or delete a file or folder, you can restore it to a previous version that was saved as part of the restore point.

To put it simply, the System Protection has to be turned on in order to utilize System Restore, or you’ll not be able to get into safe mode and restore Window. 

system restore

How to resolve “You must enable System Protection on this drive”

There are 2 ways to enable System Protection, inside Windows or from boot.

The method of using command line to fix “You must enable System Protection on this drive”  is the most wanted, since many users perform System Restore for disaster recovery. 

Fix 1. Enable System Protection via CMD

1. Get into the Command Prompt from Advanced options when you cannot get into Windows.

2. Type this command: net start vss and press Enter.

3. Type this command: rstrui.exe /offline:C:\windows=active and press Enter.

4. Restart your computer after restoring to see if you could back to previous state.

command prompt

Fix 2. Enable System Protection from Control Panel

Windows also provides a way to turn on system protection under Windows environment.

1. Click Start > Control Panel > System & Security > System > System Protection.

2. Select the drive you’d like to protect, usually C: drive, and click Configure.

3. Under the Restore Settings, select Restore system settings and previous versions of files in Windows 7 or Turn on system protection in Windows 10. Then, click Apply > OK.

Turn on system protection

Then, you should be able to restore system to previous state with the restore points you saved.

Better way to protect and restore system in Windows 11/10/8/7

It is not difficult to turn on system protection in Windows. However, such option may be grayed out or missing in some cases, and you may not be able to boot into command prompt interface when problem occurs.

Even you can start System Restore normally, the process itself is error-prone and time-consuming. Therefore, to protect your system from any accidents more securely and effeciently, it's also recommended to use free backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard.

It is designed for Windows OS particularly, and helps you safeguard operating system as well as other important files automatically in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, etc.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

To be specific, it offers “System Backup” to create system image and allows you to back up on a regular basis like daily, weekly, or monthly. The incremental and differential backup option enables you to back up only changed files and therefore save disk space on the destination path.

Backup Options

With the created system image, you can revert the operating system to an earlier state within several clicks. If you upgrade to Professional edition, you can even restore system to different hardware with the "Univeral Restore" feature.

system restore

Also, it embeds with a utility named “Create Bootable Media” which helps you make bootable USB drive or CD/DVD disc of a mini Windows operating environment. This bootable media is quite important when system fails to boot in the future.

Create Bootable Media

Other helpful features are easy to use as well, such as file backup, file sync, disk clone, selectively file restore, etc. Free download this software and discover more.

★ Easier way to protect system on your computer

Apart from AOMEI Backupper, you can use onekey recovery software - AOMEI OneKey Recovery to protect your computer OS. It allows you to backup system to a custom recovery partition which is accessible from Windows PE. Therefore, no bootable media are needed.

OneKey System Backup

Final words

When confronting the error message “You must enable system protection on this drive” in the event of system restore, you can enable system protection using command line. Likewise, you can turn on system protection from Control Panel if you are able to enter Windows environment.

Nevertheless, another reliable way to protect Windows is using AOMEI Backupper Standard. It gives robust backup solution for your computer from operating system to personal files. It is also powerful yet free disk cloning software as well. What's more, its technician edition allows you to create portable version of this software and use it on different computer without installing again. Don’t hesitate to get it.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.