Backing up your data is essential: the information contained in a document on a hard drive can be nearly impossible to replicate or replace. Here, we walk you through restoring your data from a backup.

Step 1. Head back to the Backup and Restore Center and you should see a list of backups you've created, as well as those that are scheduled to run. Below this, in the Restore half of the pane, are options for restoring files using various means. Press 'Restore my files' to delve into the specifics.

Restore backup step 1

Find 'Restore my files' in Windows Backup and Restore Center

Step 2. If you've lost a whole hard drive's worth of documents, click through the options to restore the entire backup. But if you've simply deleted a folder of photos, you'll find it faster to track down and reinstate only those files. Enter a keyword, or *.*.[file type] to bring up all items with a specific file extension.

Restore backup step 2

Enter a keyword like 'Thailand' to restore lost photos

Step 3. Once you've located your missing photos, press ok to restore the folder. If you're looking for multiple files or folders, you can add them all to the restore list before transferring them to your replacement hard drive or rejuvenated PC. Alternatively, choose the 'Recover system settings or your computer' option.

Restore backup step 3

Recover system settings or your computer

Step 4. You may need to perform a System Restore before you can reinstate files - this takes your PC back in time to before the point at which it went awry. Go to Control Panel, System and Security, Action Center. Once you've got your PC back on track, update your antivirus definitions, then run a system scan.

Restore backup step 4

Perform a System Restore before you reinstate files