When upgrading from any new version of Windows, you will always be recommended (at least by me) to make a full backup of your PC before proceeding. This is just in case things were to go wrong and you have to rollback, for example, from Windows 8 to Windows 7 and, of course, to protect your personal files.
The problem is that you cannot choose to restore specific files from a Windows 7 image (full backup) after a Windows 8 upgrade using a clean installation. This means that if you are moving to a newer operating system, you need to create a full backup as well as a copy of all your personal documents.
Although, there is not such a thing as one too many backups, you shouldn’t have to spend time doing the same thing twice. So a simple solution is to have a system image, then restore files in Windows 8 from a Windows 7 Backup using the Disk Management console. And this is actually a pretty simple thing to do as you’ll see in the instructions below.
Before getting started, the good news about a Windows 7 Backup is that it uses a mix of XML and VHD (Virtual Hard Drive) files to create copy of the entire PC. As such, it is possible to attach the VHD file to Windows 8 as a local drive and extract any file you need.
1. Connect the external drive where you previously created the Windows 7 image.
2. While in the Windows 8 Desktop, use the + X keyboard shortcut to bring the Power User menu and hit the letter K to open the Disk Management console.
3. From the Action menu, select Attach VHD.
4. Next browse the backup folder, e.g., WindowsImageBackup\[computer-name]\Backup xxxx-xx-xx xxxxxx, select the largest file size with the extension .vhd file and click Open.
Then click OK in the dialog box and Windows will mount the Virtual Hard Drive with a drive letter in Computer.
5. Go to Computer and the drive will be listed under Hard Disk Drives. Now simply double-click the drive and copy all your documents over to the Documents’ library in Windows 8 (depending on the amount of files this could take a while).
That’s all, once you are done copying all the files over, you can simply disconnect the external drive, which will also dismount the virtual drive from your computer. As you can see now, you don’t need multiple backups when moving to a new operating system.
It is worth noting that this method will work in Windows 8 as well as in Windows 7.