If you are running the Business, Enterprise or Ultimate version of Windows Vista or Windows 7 you can use the Windows Backup and Restore Center to conduct full hard drive backups of your computer. All you need is enough storage media that can accommodate the used portion of your hard drive. While you could use CD or DVD storage, the simplicity of using a large external USB hard drive is much more convenient, especially with the size of some of the hard drives shipped out today.
This feature has been long overdue in the Windows world, but it now provides some great reassurance. Full backups simply place your files into VHD files. However, what happens when you backup your machine and then reinstall an OS from scratch? How do you get the files off of your VHD. Well, if you are running Vista you need to use a tool like VHDMount that ships inside the Windows Virtual Server 2005 R2 sP1, unless you have a Windows 7 install CD handy and you swap out the boot loader by looking at one of my previous posts.
You can’t install VHDMount on Windows 7, but you don’t need to either. The built-in DISKPART utility allows you to mount VHD files as a drive letter just like VHDMount. Simply locate your VHD file and use the following commands in a command prompt with elevated privileges.
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600] Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. C:\users\scottrudy\>DISKPART Microsoft DiskPart version 6.1.7600 Copyright (c) 1999-2008 Microsoft Corporation. On computer: SCOTTRUDY DISKPART> SEL VDISK file="E:\…\1c44c446-91c0-11dd-8709-806e6f6e6963.vhd" DiskPart successfully opened the virtual disk file. DISKPART> ATTACH VDISK DiskPart successfully attached the virtual disk file.
When you are finished simply type DETACH VDISK to unmount the file.