Posted by: kurtsh | September 30, 2012

INFO: Accessing Full Drive Backups made using Windows 7’s Backup tool

imageRecently I was asked how to extract individual files or folders from a Windows Backup Full Drive image done on Windows 7. 

The issue is that the backup files are stored in a .VHD file, the contents of which are unreadable directly from File Explorer. 

The answer is that you have to “Attach” the .VHD file as a ‘virtual drive’ to your system, then navigate that ‘virtual drive’ to find the files you need and copy them off the backup image, then “Detach” the .VHD file once you’re done.

Here’s some basic steps:
(Note:  You must have Administrator privileges to proceed – or provide yourself with FULL administrative privileges over the Backup/.VHD files in question)

  1. Click START button
  2. Right click computer, select “Manage”.
  3. Click Disk Management
  4. Right click Disk Management, select “Attach VHD”.
  5. In the File dialog, find the VHD file and attach it.  This will result in a new “DISK” appearing in the graphical display representing the disks connected to your computer.  This “new disk” isn’t really a new disk drive but rather the backup image of your computer.  (This is generally known as ‘mounting a drive’)
  6. You should be able to go to My Computer at this point and find a new drive available to navigate – this is the “backup” that the Windows Backup made.   Navigate the directory structure of the drive and copy the files out of the backup that you need to your local drive or to a USB flash drive.
  7. When done detach the VHD by going back into Disk Management.
  8. Select the Disk that represents the VHD you mounted, and right click on the word “DISK” on the left hand side.  Select “Detach VHD”.


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