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Restoring Windows 7 files to a system running Windows 8

Independent backup expert Brien Posey discusses restoring Windows 7 files backed up with Windows Backup to a system running Windows 8.

What is the best method for restoring Windows 7 files backed up with Windows Backup to a system running Windows 8?

When Microsoft created Windows 8, it decided to offer some data protection mechanisms that had not existed in previous versions of Windows. For example, there now is a reset feature that makes it possible to put the OS back into a pristine state. Microsoft also offers a File History feature that provides versioning capabilities for certain types of documents.

Although these new features certainly have their place, some administrators would understandably prefer to perform Windows-7-style backups and recoveries. Furthermore, it is conceivable that an administrator might find themselves restoring Windows 7 backed-up data onto a machine that has since been upgraded to Windows 8.

Believe it or not, a Windows-7-style backup tool is hidden within Windows 8. To access this tool, move your mouse pointer to the upper right corner of the screen, then click on the Search icon. Next, enter the word Recovery in the search box. If you simply enter Backup, the tool's existence will remain hidden.

After entering Recovery in the Search box, click on Settings, then click on Windows 7 File Recovery. Upon doing so, the Windows 7 File Recovery Tool will be launched.

If your goal is to restore Windows 7 backups, you can simply click on the Select Another Backup to Restore Files From link, then follow the prompts.

It is worth noting that you can use the Windows 7 File Recovery tool to create backups of a Windows 8 computer. Even so, it is best to stick to the sanctioned Windows 8 utilities or adopt a third-party solution if possible, because you never know when Microsoft might discontinue support for the feature. After all, the File Recovery tool exists primarily as a mechanism for restoring legacy backups.

This was last published in March 2014

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Ofcourse this no longer applies if you are trying to do this in Windows 8.1, as Microsoft have removed all support for reading backups created in older versions of Windows.