Correcting the ‘You Must Enable System Protection on This Drive’

When restoring a system in Windows, you may receive an error message that says, “System protection must be enabled on this drive”. In this case, what do you need to do to solve this problem? Here are two useful ways that Techquack offers you, and the best way to restore your PC to its previous state without activating system protection.

You can create a system restore points to back up your system before performing other system-related operations, such as modifying the Windows registry, updating Windows, etc. When the Windows operating system experiences an error, you can restore your computer to its previous state with the help of the created restore points.

Recently, however, one user told us that he wanted to perform a system restore after switching from Windows 7 to Windows 10 because the new OS is quite slow. But when he entered the System Restore option through the Troubleshooting option, an error message stopped him:

“You must always restore the disk that contains Windows. Restoring other disks is not required.
You must activate the system protection for this drive.”

In general, this problem is very common, and many users report it on forums like Reddit. If you are also experiencing this problem, even if Windows indicates that you can restore multiple restore points, you will still get the same message when restoring the C drive, as shown below.

What is system protection?

What is system protection?

Simply put, it is a Windows feature that periodically creates and stores information about your computer’s system files and registry. It also saves previous versions of files that you have changed and backs up those files to restore points before important system events.

For a disk with a Windows operating system installed, system protection is enabled by default. And system protection can only be enabled for NTFS drives. However, if the above problem occurs, it means that the function is disabled. For a successful system restore, you need to make sure that system protection is enabled.

What is the cause of the “System protection must be unlocked on this drive” error in Windows?

What is the cause of the "System protection must be unlocked on this drive" error in Windows?

This problem can be caused by two different reasons. The first is that the system protection is simply not activated on your computer and you have to activate it manually. This may be more complicated if you have accessed the system restore via Extended Boot.

The second reason could be that the system protection service is simply not working on your computer and you need to reboot it. Be sure to explore both causes and related methods!

How to fix the “enable system protection” error?

How to fix the "enable system protection" error?

Activate system protection through the command line

Try activating system protection from the order list.

  1. Users can open the command prompt from Windows by typing cmd into the platform search tool, right-clicking on the command prompt, and selecting Run as administrator.
  2. However, if Windows does not start, you can also open the command prompt from the Windows recovery environment.
  3. In the Windows recovery environment, select Diagnostics, Advanced Options, and Command Prompt.
  4. Then at the command prompt, type net start vss and press Enter.
  5. Then type rstrui.exe /offline:C:windows=active at the command prompt and remember to hit Enter.
  6. Reboot your desktop and laptop.
Rename the registry files

If the above solution doesn’t work, try renaming the two registry files, which you can do at the command line.

  1. Open the command line as described in the first solution.
  2. Type cd %systemroot%system32config in the prompt window and press Enter to open this directory.
  3. Enter ren SYSTEM.001 and press Enter.
  4. Then enter ren SOFTWARE software.001 in the prompt and press Enter.
Check the “Enable system protection” setting in Windows.
  1. To check if System Restore is enabled in Windows, press the Windows + X key combination.
  2. Then press “Run” to open the accessories.
  3. Type sysdm.cpl in the “Open from Run” field and click OK to open the window that appears directly below it.
  4. Click on the System Protection tab.
  5. Click the Configure button.
  6. Select the Enable system protection option if this setting is not enabled.
  7. Select the Apply option, and then click OK to close the window.
Restart System Protection Service

Restarting the system protection service can also correct a system protection activation error.

  1. To do this, open the order prompt.
  2. Type net stop vss in the command prompt window and press Enter.
  3. Then type net start vss and press Enter to restart the service.

These solutions can fix the system protection enable error so that you can use system restore again.
In addition to these solutions, the “Reset this PC” option available in the Windows recovery environment is worth a try.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Enable system protection from the command line. Try enabling system protection from the command line.
  2. Rename the registry files.
  3. Check the "Enable System Protection" setting in Windows.
  4. Restart the System Protection service.

  1. Access the command line from additional options if you cannot access the Windows environment.
  2. Type this command: net start vss and press Enter.
  3. Enter this command: rstrui.exe /offline:C:windows=active and press Enter.

It is highly recommended that you leave system protection enabled for your Windows drive (e.g. C: ) so that you can quickly restore Windows 10 to an earlier restore point if needed. Restore points are not intended to replace system and image backups.

Step 1: Right-click in the lower-left corner and open System on the access menu at DeepL.
Step 2: Select "System Protection" from the left.
Step 3: Select the hard disk drive and click Configure to continue.
Step 4: Select Enable System Protection and click OK.

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Mark Ginter is a tech blogger with a passion for all things gadgets and gizmos. A self-proclaimed "geek", Mark has been blogging about technology for over 15 years. His blog,, covers a wide range of topics including new product releases, industry news, and tips and tricks for getting the most out of your devices. If you're looking for someone who can keep you up-to-date with all the latest tech news and developments, then be sure to follow him over at Microsoft.