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Windows Vista has been out for quite a bit and although there has been much dispute on whether or not XP is better, it’s safe to say that there are tons of users who are using Vista, whether they want to or not.

One of the problems I had when I was buying Windows Vista was what version to get. There was Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, Ultimate and a lot of others most people never heard about. Although I wanted all the awesome tools in Windows Vista Ultimate, I was stuck with Home Premium because I didn’t want to shell out the extra cash.

One of the features that I really loved about Vista Ultimate was the Shadow Copy function, which made it so I could “go back in time” as Apple puts it and restore data that I deleted. As much as I loved the feature, I really didn’t want to spend a hundred dollars on it.

It turns out that although the Shadow Copy program is not in Vista Home Premium or Home Basic, Vista still backups your data. You just don’t get a way to access the data. Luckily, there is a great tool out there called ShadowExplorer which gives you the power to browse the backups that Vista makes.

Shadow Explorer is extremely easy to use. All you have to do is download the program and start it up. Then you can access all the backups without having to use a hard to navigate interface. At the top of the program, there is a place where you can change the dates of the backup you’re seeing, and also a place to select which disk you want to browse. After that, there isn’t much to teach because most people can figure things out by themselves. Click on a folder to see the contents, and right click on a file if you want to restore it. Select the ‘export’ button and save the file wherever you want to keep it. There really isn’t much else to it. It’s a very small program (around 2MB) but functions great and hasn’t given me any problems.

Shadow Explorer

This is an awesome tool and I’ve fallen in love with it because I always delete things and realize days later I deleted the wrong thing. It’s also saved my butt a couple of times.

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Know any other tools that replace certain paid for Windows Vista features? Post a comment and talk about them.

(By) Ken Burkes, who is an active web surfer that diggs, stumbles, and blogs in his free time. Being too lazy to get a blog of his own, you should stay up to date with Make Use Of to find more of his articles.

  1. fdsa
    December 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    recuva ist the most used tool for doing this. its free

  2. mackie
    September 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    thank you so much!!!
    i just restored my older sister's files!! -IMPORTANT FILES!!

    thank you so much!! well, got to go, got to tell the world who or what saved me!!

    u rock!!! \m/

  3. El Morte
    October 22, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Awesome! I just used it to restore a 200MB file I permanently deleted 30min ago by accident....thanx a lot.

  4. Karl L. Gechlik
    July 23, 2008 at 11:34 am

    There is a tab in your system properties that shows how much space is utilized by ShadowCopy. You can limit it, increase it or disable it all together.

    This is an incredible feature if used properly!

    • Ken Burkes
      July 23, 2008 at 5:15 pm

      Indeed. It's a great feature but I just wish that people don't have to pay extra for it. Good thing we have ShadowExplorer.

  5. jer
    July 23, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Where, exactly, does Vista store all of this information, and how does one stop it from using all this disk space for stuff I'm trying to get rid of??
    What a crock on security, everything you thought you had wiped is still there. Nasty little Vista!!

  6. Dan
    July 22, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Seems pretty nice until I discovered that it repeatedly tried to dial home. When I accessed the "My Documents" portion of my hard disk...

    • Brainiac
      July 23, 2008 at 4:52 am

      What ?

    • ShadowExplorer
      July 23, 2008 at 6:29 am

      The only time ShadowExplorer is connecting to the internet is when it checks for newer versions. This is done in the background. If your firewall blocks the connection attemp, it is repeated. This doesn't have anything to to with your "My Documents" folder. No information is transmitted at all.

      If you don't like this behaviour, you can disable it in the settings.

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