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Windows 7: What file extension has the image backup?

05 Nov 2009   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
What file extension has the image backup?

Hello all,

I make use of the Windows 7 Backup and Restore programs.

Automatically everyday a backup is scheduled.
This backup is configured to contain all user files and a system image.

Now I have tried to find the system image, but I don't know what file extension the image backup should have.

In my backup folder, below, only two .VHD files are present, and a bunch of XML Documents.
X:\WindowsImageBackup\XXXX\Backup 2009-11-04 160010

Can someone explain me in which files the backup and restore programs save the backups?
Also I like to know where I should look for, to know for sure my backup is done successfully.

Thanks a lot in advance!

Best regards,


My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Nov 2009   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64

My understanding is that all those files (XML and VHD) are needed to complete the backup picture. However, strictly speaking it seems to me based on the size of the files that the image itself is housed inside the VHD files. With that stated, I would expect a corrupted backup if one of the XML files went missing.

On my system there are no program associations for the VHD file and just the default XML editor for the XML files. The only Win7 delivered program able to access these backups is the Windows Restore utility.

If you want the utmost confidence in your backup strategy there really is no other logical choice but to actually perform a restore of both the backed-up files and the entire system image.

The easier of the two is to first test the user data backup. To do this simply locate a small subset of your user data files, for example a folder of your MS Word documents on your hard drive, and copy them to another location (in essence, you are manually backing them up in case the restore goes wrong). Then, launch the restore process from within Win7 and restore that folder from your backup dataset to its original location. After it completes validate the restore by exploring the folder to ensure all came back as expected.

The next leap of faith will be to actually perform a restore of the system image using the Windows restore feature. Before you take this step, be sure your system image is the most current snapshot of your system so that you don't regress any changes you may have made since last image.

Create the rescue disc (this is done inside the Backup and Restore utility), boot to it, and then see if the bootable rescue disc can find the system image stored on your backup medium. Once found, go ahead and start the restore process, making absolute sure that the restore process has mapped the backup image to the correct partitions/hard drives on your computer.

I can tell you with confidence that the process does work well, for I did just this to give myself peace of mind for when the process is needed for real.

And finally, for those who don't test the restore process, consider this: I once consulted for a sports apparel manufacturer who religiously backed up their large enterprise resource planning system's data, but never ever tested the restore.

Predictably, the inevitable happened. They experienced catastrophic disk array failure that warranted a restore from backups once the hardware was replaced. Well, to the IT directors dismay the backup images would not mount and they could not restore. The IT director was unceremoniously fired within a month after that incident.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Nov 2009   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium x64


Thank you very much for your extensive explanation.

Still one small question left...

When using Backup and Restore, will it when executing always overwrite the older system image(s)?

Again thanks!

My System SpecsSystem Spec

05 Nov 2009   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64

From the backup help file:

Keeping different versions of system images

If you're saving your system images on an internal or external drive, or on CDs or DVDs, you can keep several versions of system images. On internal and external hard drives, older system images will be deleted when the drive runs out of space. To help conserve disk space, you can manually delete older system images. For more information, see What backup settings should I use to maximize my disk space?

If you're saving your system images in a network location, you can only keep the most current system image for each computer. System images are saved in the format of drive\WindowsImageBackup\computer name\. If you have an existing system image for a computer and are creating a new one for the same computer, the new system image will overwrite the existing one. If you want to keep the existing system image, you can copy it to a different location before creating the new system image by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to the location of the system image.
  2. Copy the WindowsImageBackup folder to a new location.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2009   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium x64


Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.

I did what you advised me to do. I did execute the System Image restore.

First removed all partitions on both of my Windows 7 hdd's.
So only left with two hdd's containing only unallocated space.
Reboot to know for sure Windows 7 was gone, and it was gone, boot failure.
Booting with repair disc, and restored the image.
Removed disc, and restarted, and...
YES, windows 7 was back, and as far as I can see everything seems to work correct, even hdd layout was the same, and Windows 7 is like it was yesterday. Very cool. ;-)

I also tried file restore, and that works perfect too.

Thank you for taking your time to teach me

Have a nice day!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2009   #6

Windows 7 Pro x64

Happy to read of your success. Thanks for the follow-up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 What file extension has the image backup?

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