How to Browse and Copy Files From a VHD (System Image) Backup

One of the great things about Backups in Windows 7 is the VHD or Virtual Hard Disk feature. When you create a System Image of your Windows 7 installation, it actually creates a virtual replica of the installation that is on the C: drive. If you don’t want to do a full on restoration of data, Windows 7 makes it easy to selectively copy files from the VHD created when you backup.

Just the other day, I had to use this feature because my Microsoft Outlook Personal Folder became corrupted. Lucky enough, I had a backup installation. Let’s take a look at how to copy files from a .VHD Image.

First, connect the external hard disk where you have the .VHD file stored or the backup of your Windows 7 installation, then turn it on. I am using a USB External hard disk.


Click Start, right-click Computer and click Manage

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In Computer Management, expand Storage then click Disk Management

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There you should see your external hard disk listed. Click the Action menu and click Attach VHD

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Uncheck Read-only and click Browse

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Browse the External Hard disk, open the WindowsImageBackup folder where Backup and Restore stores system images. Open the desired image you want to copy files from.

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Open the folder with the name Backup you should also see the date in the name of the backup

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Select the .vhd file with the alpha numeric name then click Open

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Click OK

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Windows 7 will now detect the VHD file as a hard disk volume.

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Once the VHD file is initialized, it will be assigned a volume name and you can browse it like any normal hard disk you have installed or connected to your computer. In the above screenshot, I am browsing the VHD file of a Windows Vista Ultimate computer, you can see the folders normally found at the root of the drive such as Users, Windows, Program files folders.

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When you are finished using the VHD file, simply click the Eject button in the notification area and eject the listed external Virtual Disk file.

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