Thursday, October 24, 2013

Windows 7 File Recovery feature removed from Windows 8.1

As you "should" be aware keeping a backup of your important documents and files is critical to managing a PC, Server, Device. For me I have achieved this through the Windows 7 File Recovery feature in both Windows 7 and Windows 8 with an external hard drive or network storage as the backup destination.

In Windows 8 the File History feature was brought in to replace the Windows 7 File Recovery (aka Backup and Restore) feature. Well in Windows 8.1 this feature has now been removed.

So if like me you have used that feature to perform your pre-upgrade backup with the plan to then restore the files to your new Windows 8.1 system, then sadly it is not as simple as it use to be. However it is possible and here are the steps that I performed.

  1. Create a VM on your computer using the Hyper-V feature and install the Windows 7 or Windows 8 OS (but not 8.1)
    Alternatively if you have a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer just use that. I was fortunate that I had a Windows 7 VM already built and just imported that into my laptop.
  2. If the backup is on an External HDD then attached the External Drive containing the backup to the computer. If using a Windows 7 VM then you will need to set the drive to offline before you can attach it to the VM.
  3. Start the VM (if required)
  4. Open "Backup and Recovery" on Windows 7 or "Windows 7 File Recovery" on Windows 8.
  5. Use the wizard to restore files from an existing backup and locate the backup on your external drive or network location.
  6. Select the files/folders that you wish to recover
  7. Now the important part, set the restore location to a sub folder on the same External HDD (ensure you have enough space). If you aren't using a VM you might be able to restore directly to your new Windows 8.1 computer over the network but I was using a VM without a network adapter attached.
  8. Once the restore completes, detach the external drive from the VM or other computer. Shut down the VM as it is no longer required (if appropriate)
  9. Attach the External HDD to the Windows 8.1 computer and manually copy all the files to the required locations.
  10. Finally setup Windows File History so you have backups of your documents again in a format that is supported by Windows 8.1 and easily recover files in the future.

Of cause if you are using the Windows 8 File History feature then ignore all of this as that feature is still current in Windows 8.1 and I will be updating all of my backups to use that from here on out :)


  1. My previous HD died but I did manage to save the files through a windows backup and I had to upgrade. I do not have a Windows 7 disk and so bought an 8.1. Now all of my files are ON the recovery and I have no way to get them. I do not have Windows 8, 7, ETC. Seriously need some help!

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