(Click to Enlarge) 

Before you shrug this off as a repeat of our Previous Versions review, you might want to read on. As you may already know only Vista Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise users get the nifty Previous Versions feature. With it you’re able to right-click on any file and browse older copies that have automatically been backed up by Windows. Well, the exclusivity of that feature is starting to wear off a bit…

The How-to Geek wrote up a nice tutorial on how to use a free application called ShadowExplorer to browse through the backups that Windows has automatically made. The screenshot above shows it in action, and the best thing is that it works in any version of Vista!

After a brief installation you’ll have the free ShadowExplorer up and running. From the drop-down menu you’ll need to select the date and time of the backup you wish to pull from, and then you just navigate your hard drive looking for a specific file or folder. You can simultaneously select multiple files and folders that you want to restore, and then right-click to export them back to a current location on your computer where they can actually be used.

I gave the program a whirl and have to say that it worked flawlessly on my Vista machine. If it will be useful to you the How-to Geek has a full visual walk-through of the app, or you can just go download it.