Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How to retrieve old copies of files- Ultimate style

From time to time Vista creates ‘snapshot’ copies of your files with a service called “Shadow Copy”.  This allows you to retrieve older versions from files you accidentally delete or alter.

To go back to a prior version of your file/document, you simply right-click on the file and select “Restore previous versions”.

Using the Shadow Copy service is a far easier way to recover your files than opening a backup you’ve made, and can get you out of some nasty jams. (For more on recovering deleted files, click here.)

Shadow Copy is enabled on all versions  of Vista, but Microsoft grants user access to these copies only in Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise editions. (Clearly as a method to try to sell more copies of the pricier Ultimate Edition. Shame on you Microsoft; backup and recovery should be free.)

Tip of the day: Users of the “Home” editions of Vista can use Shadow Copy too.
The odds are pretty durned good that if you bought a new computer, and it came with Vista, it came with Vista Home Premium. I say that because if you walk into a store selling computers, I dare you to find the one that has Ultimate Edition on it. It seems to me that they all come with Home Premium!

Remember how I said Shadow Copy was “enabled” on all versions? Yes? Well, for owners of Vista Home Premium and Vista Home Basic, the service is running, but you need a way to “interface” with it (sometimes called a “front end”). To do that, download and install ShadowExplorer, and gain some of Ultimate Edition’s functionality. This cool piece of software is free, but donations are accepted.

Today’s free link: People who are using Windows 2000 or XP can get an almost identical file functionality with FileHamster from Mogware. This program is designed for people whose talents lie in the Creative Arts, so you don’t ave to be a geek to use it. There’s helpful user forums, too.

Please note: This ability is by no means a substitute for regular system backups. This is for small “oopsies”, not recovery/restoration.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 16, 2008 - Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, missing files, software, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hey Paul,

    Great post. Thanks for the download link for FileHamster – I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time.



    Comment by Bill Mullins | August 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. thanks for the info. worked great the only problem was the last update was in the morning and the whole fiasco went down in the afternoon.


    Comment by jackinthebean | October 22, 2008 | Reply

  3. hi, thanks for sharing.
    is there any way to do this in ubuntu os


    Comment by ilham | February 11, 2010 | Reply

    • ilham,
      The place (repeat: the place) to learn and ask questions about the (most popular) Linux distro – Ubuntu – is the Ubuntu community forums.

      A search there pointed me to something called TimeVault… which appears to be what you want. But I don’t know for sure if it is an exact clone of VSS, as I don’t use any Linux. It isn’t user friendly enough for me, and I’m a tech who has been computing since the early days…


      Comment by techpaul | February 11, 2010 | Reply

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