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How to Restore Individual File from a System Image Backup in Windows 10.

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Many computer users that do backups love System image backup rather than doing incremental backups. This is because System Image backup consume less space when compared to incremental backups.

And more, System Image backup not only backup your files, but also backup your computer operating system (Windows 10), so that if anything where to happen to your hard drive, you do not need to install Windows separately before restoring your files.

But there exists one issue with system image backups. They can only be used to restore the complete files and not just selected files in the backup. Or, so we thought.

Individual Files can be Restore from a System Image Backup

Yes, you heard it right. There is a built-in functionality in Windows that will enable you to restore individual files from a system image backup rather than performing a full system restore. This functionality is called Virtual Hard Disk or VHD in short.

What this means is that, you can configure Windows 10 to see your System Image backup file as a virtual drive. Thus, Windows will allow you to view the contents of the system image backup, as if you are viewing your hard drive from a previous date. Hence you can restore your files individually without doing a full system restore.

Point to note

When accessing your System Image backup file as a virtual hard drive, it is important that you do not delete any file in it, nor copy any file to it. Doing so, might corrupt the system image backup file and might render it useless when you want to use it to perform a full system restore.

Note also that, as it has become a drive, it can become corrupted by malware on your system, which you might not be aware of. So, just copy the file you want to restore out of it, and eject it as soon as you are done.

How to turn a System Image Backup to a Virtual Hard Drive.

There are basically 2 utilities available at your disposal. The first is the built-in Windows 10 Disk Management tool, and the second is using AOMEI Backupper tool (this is a third-party application).

Using Windows 10 Disk Management tool to mount System Image Backup file as a Virtual Hard Disk

Open the Disk Management tool. You do this by:
1) Right-click on the Start Menu (or press the Windows + X buttons on your keyboard) and click Disk Management from the menu.
2) Right-click on the This PC folder and click on Manage. In the left pane, expand Storage and click on Disk Management.

Once the Disk Management tool has opened, click on Action from the menu and select Attach VHD.

Next, click on the Browse… to locate your System Image Backup file and then click OK. Once done, the System Image Backup file will appear in Disk Management with a blue icon and a drive letter will be assigned to it automatically. If a Drive letter isn’t assigned automatically, then do it manually.

Now close the Disk Management tool, open File Explorer, navigate to This PC, and you will see the image backup as a drive you can access.
When you are through restoring your file(s). Right-click on the System image backup virtual drive in the This PC section of File Explorer, and click Eject.

 Ejecting will remove the Image backup drive from the list of drive in the File Explorer, but it will not remove it from Windows 10 records, that it has been made a Virtual Drive. So, when next you want to restore a file from it, all you need to is to double-click on the System Image backup file and it will appear as a drive in File Explorer. Hence, you do not need to go through the process of attaching it as a VHD again and again, and again.

However, if you want to remove it from Windows 10 records, do the following.

Detaching System Image Backup as a Virtual Hard Drive

Open Disk Management.

Right-click on the Drive in the list that represent the System Image Backup and click on Detach VHD.

In the next screen click the OK button. It is very much important that you do not check the Delete the virtual hard disk box. Doing so, will delete your System Image Backup file after Windows 10 has finished detaching it as a VHD.

Using AOMEI Backupper to mount System Image Backup file as a Virtual Hard Disk

Because I am not a fan of using third-party apps to do exactly what a built-in feature will do, I recommend you sticking to the tutorial I have outline above.

However, upon five (5) requests from various readers, I will provide the AOMEI guide. Use the comment box below to make your request.

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