The Shadow Copy feature allows you to restore the older versions of your files. This feature exists in all the versions of Windows Vista and 7, yet Windows provides ability to restore older versions only in the Ultimate and Enterprise editions. This is very annoying for the people who want to restore older versions of their changed files. Now you can use a third party freeware tool called Shadow Explorer that provides the front end to Shadow Copy in any edition of Windows Vista and 7.
The Shadow Copy service is turned on by default in Windows. But frontend to this service is available in only limited editions of Windows. The free tool Shadow Explorer can help you recover your changed or deleted files from Shadow Copy backups. You can download Shadow Explorer from its website. It is available both as an installable and as a portable program. After the installation, you can run Shadow Explorer from its desktop shortcut.
The user interface for Shadow Explorer is very easy to use. Just select a drive from the drop-down menu and it would populate the various time points where the backups exists. You can select one of the time points from the second drop-down list. In the right-side, you would see the various folders and files with backups for that point of time. The items are shown in the listview style which you can select to be of detailed list type, large icons type or small icons type. If you want to restore some of the files or folders, then you can select one or more items from the list, right-click on them and choose Export to export them to a folder of your choice.
The Shadow Explorer program makes it very easy to restore the files backed up inside the Shadow Copy backups. However if you have disabled System Restore for a hard disk drive, then no backups are saved for any of the folders or files on that hard disk. If you do not have the Ultimate or Enterprise editions of Windows 7 (or Vista), then you can make use of the free Shadow Explorer tool to restore older versions of your files easily.
You can download Shadow Explorer from http://www.shadowexplorer.com/downloads.html.