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There is a way to search the contents of a system image and extract individual files in Windows 10 / 8 / 7. You do not need to restore an entire system image to get or extract some important files. The procedure for extracting individual files from the system image is different for Windows 10 / 8 and Windows 7. Moreover, they do not work under Windows Vista because it does not have the possibility to attach VHD files or to use the wim archive (16).
This article shows you how to extract and restore specific or individual files in Windows 8/10, followed by the procedure in Windows 7
Extracting specific files from the Windows system image backup
In Windows 8, it is easy to extract specific files from a system image. The system image backup file is saved as wim archive. If you have created a custom system image in Windows 8/10 for the’Refresh your PC’ function, you can browse and copy files using any file extraction program.
You know where you saved the custom image, then simply open the location and use any file extraction tool like 7-Zip to open the archive. You can browse the content and even copy the file or perform other operations on the content.
To extract a specific file, simply right-click any file and select the Copy To option.
The context menu also offers other options such as Calculate checksum, which can be very useful for checking the integrity of backed up files.
Extracting some files from the Windows 7 system image backup
In Windows 7, things are not so simple, but there is a way suggested in TechNet. You need to know the location of your system backup file.
System images are saved under : DriveWindowsImageBackup(name of your PC)Backup. You see the files sorted by year-month-month-day-hour-hour-minute-seconds. Identify the last image in which your file can be saved and presented.
Go to the Start menu and enter Disk Management in its search field and press Enter. Select the’Action’ menu and click the’Add VHD’ option.
Then a window opens on your computer screen. Click the’Browse’ button and browse to the system image backup file with the.VHD extension. Do not check box Read only.
Here, system images were stored on disk G : so that backups are in G:WindowsImageBackup.
Click Open > OK. Do not enable the’Read only’ option at this point.
An AutoPlay window may now appear on your computer screen. You will also notice that the VHD file is attached as a separate virtual hard disk with its own drive letter in the Disk Management window.
You can also open it from your computer folder. When the dialog box appears on your computer screen, select option ‘Open folder to view files’.
You can search and copy any file(s) from the attached VHD diskette.
When you have finished copying, right-click the corresponding VHD field in Disk Management. When you do this, a list of actions to perform appears, select ‘Release VHD’.
Deleting a virtual disk makes it available only when it is reconnected. Clear the Remove virtual disk file check box. Click OK and complete the process.
To perform this complete procedure, you must first create a system image backup on your Windows computer.