Restore Complete Computer

How to Restore the Complete Computer from a Complete Backup and Restore Image in Vista
A Windows Complete PC Backup image contains copies of your programs, system settings, and files. This will show you how to restore the complete computer from a Complete PC Backup and Restore image.
How to Restore the Complete Computer from a Complete Backup and Restore Image in Vista

information   Information
A Windows Complete PC Backup image contains copies of your programs, system settings, and files. It is a complete system backup that you can use to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or entire computer ever stops working. This will restore the hard drive size and content back to exactly as it was when the Complete PC Backup was made. For more information, see: Windows Help and How-to: Restore your computer from a system image backup
Note   Note


A) If you want to delete or copy the entire WindowsImageBackup folder to save it to another location to keep a copy of it, you will need to open each subfolder in the WindowsImageBackup folder and grant access permission to them first by clicking Continue twice for eace folder. You will then be able to copy this folder like any other folder. You may want to do this because when a new Complete PC Backup is made it can overwrite the previous Complete PC Backup with the differences to create the new backup.
  • Backups are saved in this format: (backup location)\WindowsImageBackup\(computer name)\Backup (year-month-day) (time)
  • If the backup was done on Local Disk D: at 9/7/2007 1:00:50 PM (It uses 24 hour time), then the full backup file path would be:
  • D:\WindowsImageBackup\Computer\Backup 2007-09-07 130050
  • You would right click the folder Backup 2007-09-07 130050 and click Delete to delete that backup.
  • To see what your computer name is, see: How to Change the Computer Name in Vista
B) To delete all but the most recent Complete PC Backup, you can use Disk Cleanup. You will just need to select the drive that the complete PC backups are stored on and select the More Options tab. For how see step 15 here: How to Use Disk Cleanup in Vista

C) To delete the Complete PC Backup completely, you just need to take ownership of the WindowsImageBackup folder and subfolders. Afterwards, you will be able to delete the folder.

Tip   Tip

  • This only applies to the Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, and Business editions.
  • For SP1 news about changes to Backup, see: What’s new with backup and Restore on Vista SP1
  • When you restore your computer from a Windows Complete PC Backup image, it is a complete restoration. You can't choose individual items to restore, and everything you’ve done since that backup was created will be lost. This includes new programs, settings, and all files like pictures and music.
  • If you dual boot with Windows XP, then everytime you start in XP the System Restore Points and all except the most recent Complete PC Backup files in Vista get deleted. For how, see: How to Stop System Restore Points from being Deleted in Vista when Dual Booting with XP
  • You cannot restore a 32 bit Vista version complete pc backup on a 64 bit Vista version, or the other way around. :(

EXAMPLE: Restore Complete PC Backup Notice
NOTE: When you click on the Restore computer button from the Backup and Restore Center in the Control Panel (Classic View), you will see the screenshot below. Just click Close and see how to to restore the computer below.

Here's How:
1. Boot into the System Recovery Optionsscreen.​
2. Click on the Windows Complete PC Restore option. (See screenshot below)​

3. If you saved the backup image on a set of multiple DVDs, then insert the last DVD from the backup set when prompted. If not, go to step 8.​
A) Go to step 9 below.​

4. If you have a saved backup image on a connected hard drive or another partition, then you will see this screenshot​
A) If you want to restore the latest backup, then click on Next.​
NOTE: The Restore the following backup is normally the last backup made.​
B) To restore a different backup image, dot Restore a different backup and then press Next.​
NOTE: This is if the backup you want to use is not listed here and you have made other complete PC backups in this same location that you wish to choose from instead. If you have a backup from another location that you want to choose from, then it will need to be connected to the computer before step 1.

C) Select which backup to restore from the list and then click on Next. (see screenshot below)​
D) Click on Finish.​

5. Check the confirm box and click on OK. (See screenshot below)​

6. You will now see this screenshot below.​
NOTE: If you have the backup image on DVDs, have them ready. See step 3 above.

7. When done, click on Restart Now to finish. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Your computer will restart and the restore will be done.

That's it,

Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink


I can ONLY get to step 3 when I try for a complete pc reinstall. The screen is the multi blue color with an active mouse pointer. If I disconnect both my raid drives the step 3 screen comes up and continues, BUT my back up img is on one of my raid drives. Any work-around clues?
Hi Redsled,

Welcome to the forum. :party:

Raid setups can be tricky sometimes. It's been a while since I played with raid. You might look at this tutorial to see if will help get it to recognize you raid drives.

The only workaround that I know to do is to copy the image to another partition on the main drive, or other device, that would be recognized at step 3. (EX: USB device)

Wish I could help more, but it's been to long away from Raid.

I'm sorry I didn't give enough information.(I thought EVERYBODY took mind reading classes :D)
Vista is on a single non raid drive. My full pc restore back up is on a raid drive. All drives are sata drives.
Hi Shawn,

Startup Repair can only be started using Vista Installatio DVD?

My laptop only comes with recovery DVD... :(
Hi MissouriBoy,

I added instructions at the top of the tutorial in NOTE B, but it may not work unless you have a recovery partition on your drive to. Try it and see of you have a Repair option in the Advanced Boot Options screen.

Hope this helps,
All Hail Shawn:My problem is image backup on usb external hd. Hard drive failed,replaced,booted to windows complete restore.Windows can't find backup,but I can see it using another machine.
Hi Grosssr,

Welcome to Vista Forums. :party:

Was the USB drive plugged in before you booted into the Recovery screen?

Yessir:,usb was plugged in and readable as of last bootup.Oh ya,same problem when back up is copied to a second sata hd,too.Also I failed to mention at time of recovery attempt I changed mb,cpu and memory.Thats what the reason for recovery messed up hd so bad I did a reformat.:confused:

Acronis is used and recommended by many people. Due to a personal experience, I have found it necessary to locate an alternative.
Last edited:

You might try copying the WindowsImageBackup folder when it is connected to the other computer to a DVD and see if you can use it from that instead. See the Backup Location section at the top of the tutorial to see how.

Hello Brink,
Just wanted to let you know your tutorials are the best :)

Thanks so much, it help me a lot and I can say it saved my pc :D
My vista installation disk has no restore a different backup option
I have my backup and was able to resore them without any problem.
Since few months ago neither the installation disk doesn't detect my backups nor i get an option to select a different backup option
Is the option to select a diierent location is in sp1 installion disk?
Please help me to get out of this darkness!!!!!!!!!!
Hi Samayam, and welcome to Vista Forums.

That option is available to all express or retail Vista installation DVDs. Did you have the location of the other backup connected to the computer before you booted to the System Recovery Options screen? If it detects no other option available when it scans for backups, then the different backup option will not be listed.

Hope this helps,