How to Restore Lost Files and Folders Using Windows Vista's Backup and Restore Center
As long as you've previously backed up your PC, restoring lost files and folders couldn’t be simpler with Windows Vista's Backup and Restore Center.
Choose Start→Control Panel, click the System and Maintenance icon, and click Back Up Your Computer.
The Backup and Restore Center appears.
If you've performed a backup, you should see a Last backup date listed. If you don't see one, you either haven't done a backup or had to restore the entire system.
Click the Restore Files button.
The wizard asks whether you want to restore files from the latest backup or an older backup.
Unless you’ve messed up the file badly for an extended period of time, choose Files from the Latest Backup and click Next.
Vista asks which files and folders you want to restore.
Click the Add Files button if you want to restore a file (or files), or the Add Folders button if you want to restore an entire folder (or folders).
The wizard brings up the Add Files to Restore dialog box, which looks like a regular Windows Explorer dialog box, except that the files on the right and the files you can get to from the Favorite Links pane on the left are all backups.
Choose files or folders that you want to restore and click Add.
The wizard keeps a running list of all the files and folders you've chosen.
When you’re done choosing files and folders, click Next.
The wizard asks where you want to save the restored files.
Place the restored files on the desktop or a special folder location of your choosing.
The wizard tells you when it has finished restoring the files.
Don’t choose In the Original Location or you might clobber perfectly good files. Instead, click the Browse button and find a new place for the restored files.
Click Start Restore. When Vista tells you it's finished, click Finish.
Check your restored data to make sure you got the files you wanted. When you’re sure you've got the right files and you don’t need the old ones, feel free to delete the bad ones and replace them with the restored versions.
If you have Vista Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate, you should consider using Shadow Copies to retrieve files and folders. In general, you can get at a decent backup faster by working with Shadow Copies.