How to mount and browse Windows backups from the backup and restore tool

I was recently doing data recovery for my parents on Thanksgiving and they told me they had no idea how to get to their backups, stored on an external drive, and see what was actually backed up. Not knowing what sort of backup was actually performed on their computer, I explored the drive and found some folders that looked like they were created by backup and restore.

Inside the folders were some VHDs! Having never really probed around with my actual backups (I’m a set it and forget it kind of guy), I first thought this was cool, then secondly, I mounted the VHDs and showed my parents their imaged disks.

Before going into the details here, a warning, this is not the intended way for people to use the backup and restore utility. Consider this more of a “just so that you know how to do it” post.

1) Find the VHDs in the backup folder that you created.
2) Mount the VHD.

To mount the VHD:

Go to your control panel and open administrative tools:

image of administrative tools

Select computer management:

image of computer management control panel item

Right click disk management and select “Mount VHD”:

image showing the attach VHD dialog

Mounting the path to your VHD image will make it appear as a new disk on your PC.  Pretty neat huh!