How was your back-up made on the external drive? Did you use imageing software like Acronis, or did you just copy the contents of C: to your external drive? From your description of your problem it appears that you have re-installed Vista and just restored files from your back-up. This does not re-install the progranms themselves because it omits all the keys that they write to the registry when they are installed properly. If it was a back-up from a program like Acronis you would not have had to re-install Vista, just booted from your recovery disk and then selected the back-up you wanted to re-install. That would have left your system working in exactly the same way as it was when the back-up was made. I'm afraid that you will now have to re-install your progs. from original CD's to get them to work.