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I've set up backups for my PC using Windows 7's built in scheduled backup feature that backs up to a NAS I purchased. All seems to be going well but I can't sleep well until I'm sure my backups will restore successfully.

It's easy enough to test that the files themselves will restore using the machine they were backed up from, by looking for "previous versions" under properties. That works great but I'm not confident that I could back up in case of a serious failure, either on this machine or another machine in case of catastrophic failure.

How can I test that my Win7 backup will restore? Some sources claim that the backup is a VHD I can mount anywhere, but it appears to be a collection of directories, ZIP files & catalogues. Can I try a "soft" restore on my PC or will I risk partially wiping if the restore fails? Can I convert the zips into a VHD and test that I could extract the data? Can I run it on another machine?

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I think a VM should do the trick. – Ankit Mishra Oct 2 '12 at 12:01
How are you backing your PC up? AFAIK it is a VHD. – Tanner Faulkner Oct 2 '12 at 22:27
Standard Win7 process with a system image and some selected directories, saved to a UNC path.… – Mark McDonald Oct 3 '12 at 7:39

The surest way to test it would be to temporarily replace your hard drive with an empty one, and try the restore.

There is lots of useful information regarding how to restore from a backup on this page:

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Download VMware. Create a new machine (needs to be the same size as your Image), and boot the machine up and attempt to restore the system from you're image. If it's sucessful, you know its good!

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