Everyone hopes they won't suffer a hard disk crash, but it pays to know in advance how to restore files from your backup should you find yourself in that position. The exact procedure will differ depending on whether you’ve backed up locally or online and on which software or service you’ve used but the principles are the same irrespective.
CrashPlan's free service lets you back up to a friend's computer
First of all, if you’ve created a disk image and suffered a catastrophic loss that makes Windows unbootable (and having replaced the disk if it was a write-off), just boot your PC from the imaging software recovery disc. You will probably have to burn one yourself, so make sure you do this, label the disc and store it somewhere you can easily find it again.
Finally, connect the disk which contains the image and run the imaging software to restore the complete hard disk, Windows, applications, data and all.
If your loss was catastrophic but you hadn’t created a disk image, you’ll need to reinstall Windows and your applications, including your backup and restore software, and then use that software to restore your data files from the backup file.
If you've lost files but Windows still boots and your applications are still accessible, you can jump straight to restoring your files from your backup.
Here’s a brief overview of how to restore files with CrashPlan:
Run CrashPlan on the PC to which you want to restore files and click on the Restore tab. Because CrashPlan allows you to backup several PCs, select the name of the PC from which your files were backed up. Now choose the source of the backup. This may be CrashPlan Central (CrashPlan’s online servers), a friend’s computer or a local hard disk.
Next, in the list of files and folders, check or uncheck boxes to select exactly what you want to restore. The only other thing you may want to do is alter various options such as whether you want to replace or rename duplicate files and finally, to complete the process, click on Restore, sit back and wait for your files to be recovered.