Restoring Backup Files to Windows Vista

I have now been running on Windows Vista for couple of weeks. Overall, I am fairly happy with the new system. However, I am still fumbling around to find things because Microsoft has moved things around. It may be for the better, but I find myself wondering what was wrong with the old way familiar ways of doing things. I still haven't found out how to change the windows file explorer (if they still call it that) setting so that I can see the complete file names, including extensions. In general, the way that you navigate through the files on a Vista computer is different. Ever since I got my first PC, I have been accustom to using drives and folders. Windows XP started the "My" stuff; My Documents, My Pictures, My Music... These were all alias names for folders that were buried somewhere down in "Documents and Settings". Windows Vista has taken this to a whole new level. They have dropped the "My" stuff and now you just have "Documents", "Computer", "Music", "Games"... I think this is probably a good thing for non-computer people, but it confuses those of us who want to know where everything is. I am not going to attempt to educate you on Windows Vista, but I do want to point one important difference related to restoring data from backups.

After I got my Vista system up and running, the first thing I wanted to do was restore my documents from my online backup service. I logged into my backup service, located my files under "Documents and Settings". By default, the system wants to restore files to their original locations. This is what backup systems usually do. However, Windows Vista doesn't have a "Documents and Settings" folder on the C: drive like Windows XP did. I could have let the restore create the "Documents and Settings" folder and restore all of the files just where it originally found them. Actually, that would be a bad idea. Windows Vista uses a "Users" folder for the same purpose as the old "Documents and Settings" folder. I directed my backup software to restore my files to the "Users" folder and under my account, and shazaam! my documents show up under "Documents" in Windows Vista.

I have had several people ask me about using their backup data to transfer their files to a new computer. I actually like this practice because it is a good test of the backup system. It is always a good idea to test your restore capability. After going through this exercise a couple of times, I have decided that when moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista, it is better to use the "Transfer files and settings" wizard to move your files. The wizard will not only move your files, but it will move them to the new equivalent location on the new computer.

Once you get Windows Vista up and running, you should install your backup software and make a new backup of your new computer with the files in there new locations. This will make it much easier to restore them later if needed. And if you didn't use your backup system to restore your files to your new computer, you should plan to test your restore capability soon after converting to the new computer.

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