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Monday, September 22, 2008



For Vista ULTIMATE and BUSINESS, (for Versions Home Basic and Premium read below)

If you accidentally delete or rename a file or folder, you can restore a
shadow copy of that file or folder, but you need to know the location that
the file or folder was saved to. To restore a file or folder that was
deleted or renamed, follow these steps:

Click to open Documents.
Click the arrow next to Folders at the bottom of the left pane.
In the Folders list, open the folder that contained the file or folder that
was deleted or renamed.

Right-click somewhere in the folder (without selecting a file or folder),
and then click Restore previous versions.
Double-click a previous version of the folder that contains the file or
folder you want to restore. (For example, if a file was deleted today,
choose a version of the folder from yesterday, which should contain the

In the folder, drag the file or folder that you want to restore to another
location, such as your desktop or another folder.
The version of the file or folder is saved to the location that you

If you don't remember the exact file or folder name or its location, you can
search for it by typing part of the name in the Search box in Documents.


Unfortunately, Microsoft decides to support Previous Versions feature only in the Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista. Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium editions are left out in the cold, probably to encourage sales and upgrade to Ultimate edition. However, the baffling point is that the Shadow Copy Service (VSS, also known as Volume Snapshot Service) is actually included in Vista Home Premium and Basic, up and running by default. The Shadow Copy Service is used by both Previous Versions feature and Vista’s backup utility, System Restore, which enabled in all editions of Vista.

The worst part is, although Previous Versions feature in not enabled in Vista Home Premium and Basic, but the snapshot backup of Shadow Copy actually includes all files including user data files, which is not necessary for System Restore function. This behavior eats up plenty of hard disk space and system resources, yet users cannot access the backups of these user data files in the event they need it most.


It looks like Microsoft simply remove the graphical user interface (GUI) of Previous Versions that allows users to recover restore lost or changed or altered files in Vista Home Basic and Premium editions, with all other background process running intact. This arrangement of saving and keeping backups of user files but hide the user backups probably is to ‘please’ users who decide to upgrade to Vista Ultimate edition using Windows Anytime Upgrade, where changes to older versions of user data files prior to upgrade can still be found. It can be also that programmers of Vista too lazy to ‘fine tune’ VSS to exclude users data files from backup.

Thus, to access the Previous Versions or Shadow Copy backup of user data files, users have the option to upgrade to Vista Ultimate, which is expensive. In this case, ShadowExplorer can come in handy.

Side note: From security point of view, it’s best to turn off Shadow Copy (include both System Restore or Previous Versions) if you’re not actually using it, especially in Vista Home Premium and Basic, since you’re not aware that copies of files have been saved as backup, nor can see, view, use, access, remove or delete them without advanced technical skill.

ShadowExplorer takes advantage of the Vista Volume Shadow Copy service and the backup snapshot copies that created by it to allow users to browse the shadow copies. ShadowExplorer can access the shadow storage, which often off-limit to novice users due to complex permissions and rights issues, and make the point-in-time copies accessible to the users. Thus, ShadowExplorer is especially useful for Vista Home Basic and Premium users who do not have Previous Versions feature, but need to recover or get back earlier version of accidentally edited documents, or retrieve lost deleted files. Shadow Explorer can retrieve all versions of files and folders saved by VSS.




Tell me if this helps!


  1. Brilliant. Thanks for the info and link to shadowexplorer, just saved me my music collection.

  2. I couldn't get it to work..Lost my whole video collection

  3. Hello if this restore does not work, perhaps you have the files on a drive that is not being monitored by system restore (thus this includes the shadow copy)by default Vista only watches drive C for deleted files.. you can change this if you wish.. however for files that you simply delete there are other ways to restore them..

    a free tool to restore deleted files is this:

    This and similar programs work with the fact that data is not scrubbed from the hard disk, rather its tagged so it can be rewritten by new data. Thus if you delete a file by accident dont use the disk at all! Get a program like recuva and try to recover the file before it gets written on top.

  4. Wow- can't believe how easy this is to use! Recovered my school notes that would have been irreplaceable.

  5. This really doesn't work with Vista Home Premium 64 SP 1. Even run as administrator, every single dropdown is blank and no file structure is present. I've checked and found restore points on all my drives, and no luck.