I just reinstalled windows XP over a previous version and I did not back up my documents & settings folder. Which now I cannot access. I read Kieth's answer to a similar problem XPtoVista answer however, I reinstalled XP and not vista. The properties are a tad different.
Create A Complete Backup And Restore Image With Windows Vista.
Unlike Windows XP, Windows Vista does not have a repair install option. Well not in the sense of being able to re-install the operating system over the current version without damaging or altering software applications you have installed over and above the Windows operating system.
Please understand we cannot restore files to Windows XP if the files are backed up via Backup and Restore Center in Windows Vista. In addition, if you use the Complete PC Backup function and you would like to restore the files to another computer, this computer needs to have the exact same hardware in order for that system to boot. If the hard drive is kaput, the recovery disc doesn’t help you. It does help if you buy and install a replacement hard drive. Before using a recovery disc, consider running the System File Checker (SFC). A recovery disc is also part of a backup-restore operation. After recovering the computer to its pristine state, restore your backup files.
This is not to say that there are no repair options, because there are; they simply work differently.
Recovery Console, for instance, does not exist in Windows Vista. Instead, if you want to repair your installation, you would be able to do so if you had previously created a Complete Backup of Windows Vista and saved it to either a separate partition or a series of DVDs.
For piece of mind it is wise to create the first backup of Windows Vista after you have installed the operating system and completed the installation of any additional applications. It is not wise to backup the system until the operating system has been officially activated.
While Microsoft recommends creating a backup image every six months or so, it may be far wiser to create a new backup image after any major alterations or upgrades to your system.
Creating a backup image using Windows Vista Backup application is quite straightforward. All you need to ensure is that you have adequate media (if you are saving to DVD) or enough hard disk space (if you are using a hard drive partition) to accommodate the backed up image.
It is unfortunate that the Windows Backup application doesn't support compression. If the drive is 20GB in size then the backup image will also be 20GB.
To start the backup image, proceed as follows:
1. Click the Start button
2. From the Start Menu, Click All Programs>Accessories>System Tools
3. On the System Tools menu, Click the Backup Status and Configuration option
4. In the backup Window, Click the Complete PC Backup option
5. In the Complete PC Backup window, Click the Create Backup Now option
6. User Account Control (UAC) asks for permission to continue. If you are the administrator, Click the Continue button. If you are not the administrator you will be required to supply the relevant authority before being able to continue.
7. Vista will now search for operating systems on your PC
8. After Vista has located the operating system details the 'Where do you want to save the backup' window appears
9. Select either the Hard drive or DVD option. Please ensure you have enough free disk space or the required quantity of DVDs before proceeding
10. Click the Next button
11. The next screen asks 'Which disk do you want to include'. You should note that, if you are using a dual boot system - for instance, Windows XP and Vista, both the XP and Vista drives will be marked up for backup, and that these options cannot be changed by the user. If XP is on the first partition, Windows Vista will store its boot-loader files there, hence the need to backup both partitions and drives
12. The Vista drive will already be selected. If you have other partitions/drives you wish to include in the backup now is the time to select them
13. Once you have selected the partition/drive you wish to include in the backup, press the Next button
14. In the Confirm your backup settings window, Check that everything you want to backup is listed in 'The following disk will be backed up' dialogue box, and then Press the Start Backup button
15. Windows will now prepare to Create a Backup
16. If you are using DVDs, you will now be asked to Insert a blank disk larger than 1GB into your DVD drive
17. Insert the DVD
18. The DVD will now be formatted. After formatting Windows will start to backup your PC's data
19. If you are backing up to a separate hard drive or partition the backup process will start as soon as you click the Start Backup Button
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