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Restoring files with Vista's Restore Files wizard

This article will show you how to use the Restore Files wizard by walking you through a restore operation.

All versions of Windows Vista come with the Back Up Files wizard that is designed to make it very easy for you to back up all of your data files. The Restore Files wizard is also designed to make it very easy for you to restore files from your backups. In this article, I'll show you how to use the Restore Files wizard by walking you through a restore operation.

Accessing the Restore Files wizard

Just as with the Back Up Files wizard, there are two ways to access the Restore Files wizard. You can access it from the Backup and Restore Center by clicking Start | All Programs | Maintenance or you can access it from the Backup Status and Configuration page by clicking Start | All Programs | Accessories | System tools. For this article's example, I'll focus on the Backup Status and Configuration page, shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The Backup Status and Configuration page has a very straightforward user interface.

As you can see in Figure A, when you select the Restore Files button in the Backup Status and Configuration page, there are actually two different types of restore operations — Advanced Restore and Restore Files. The type of restore operation you choose will depend on the type of backup from which you're restoring. Let's take a closer look.

Simple Restore operation

In most common circumstances, you'll be restoring files from a backup that you made on your computer and will select the Restore Files button. When you do, you'll see the Restore Files page, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The Restore Files page provides you with two options for restoring files.

As you can see, on the Restore Files page you can choose to restore files from the latest or most recent backup as well as from an older backup. If you select the Files From An Older Backup option, you'll see the page shown in Figure C and can choose any of the older backups in the list.

Figure C

You can select any one of the older backups to restore from the list.

When you click Next or if you select the Files From The Latest Backup, you'll see the page shown in Figure D, and will be prompted to select the files or folders that you want to restore. If you know the exact name and location of the file or folder that you want to restore, you can select either the Add Files or Add Folders button. If you're not sure of the exact name or location, you can use the Search button, which will open a variation of Windows Vista's Search tool, and you can track down the file.

Figure D

At this stage of the restore operation, you'll be prompted to choose the files or folders that you want to restore.

For example, suppose that you want to restore a PDF file named SpeedStream211 to the Documents folder that became corrupted. Since you know the name and location of the file, you'll click the Add Files button. When you see the Add Files To Restore window, select the file, as shown in Figure E, and click the Add button.

Figure E

You'll locate and select the file you want to restore in the Add Files To Restore window.

The file will then be added to the list and you can click the Next button. Doing so will take you to the next page in the wizard, which will prompt you to select the location that you want to restore the file, as shown in Figure F. In most circumstances, you'll want to restore the file to the same location, but as you can see, you can choose and customize a different location.

Figure F

While the default setting is to restore the file to its original location, you can choose and customize a different location.

Once you've selected where you want to restore the files, you'll just click the Start Restore button and the file will be restored.

Advanced Restore

Now, if you want to restore all the files in the backup or the files you want to restore are from a backup that was made on a different computer, then you'll want to choose the Advanced Restore operation. When you click the Advanced Restore button, you'll encounter a User Account Control (UAC) dialog box and will need to respond accordingly. Then, you'll see the Restore Files (Advanced) screen, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

The Restore Files (Advanced) screen provides you with several choices for a restore operation.

If you want to restore all the files in the backup, you'll start by selecting the Files From The Latest Backup On This Computer option and clicking Next. You'll then see a page like the one shown in Figure D, but when you select the Restore Everything In This Backup check box, all the Add features will disappear, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

When you select the Restore Everything In This Backup check box, all the other configuration options disappear.

Keep in mind that that the Files From A Backup Made On A Different Computer restore operation only applies to backups made with Windows Vista's Back Up Files wizard. So the only difference in this type of restore operation is that the Restore Files wizard will prompt you to specify the location of the backup.

More later

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I've shown you several ways that you can use the Restore Files wizard to restore files from backups created with Windows Vista's Back Up Files wizard. If the backup you want to restore from was created with Windows XP's Backup utility, you must follow different operation that involves downloading and installing the Restore portion of Windows XP's Backup utility. I'll cover this operation in a future article.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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