Windows Vista uses a service called Volume Shadow Copy Service which is turned on by default on all versions of Windows Vista. With the service turned on the Volume Shadow Copy Service creates so called shadow copies of files in Windows Vista from time to time which are ideal if you have to restore files that got accidentally deleted or altered.
On the downside the ability to restore files using the Volume Shadow Copy Service is only available for Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise and Business editions.
Shadow Explorer is a software for Windows Vista that makes it possible to restore files using the Volume Shadow Copy Service on all versions of Windows Vista. The program can be installed under Windows XP but it does not work if you execute it.
Shadow Explorer requires administrative privileges to be started. The interface is then providing an explorer like window with information about the stored shadow copies in the header area.
The user can select a different version of the shadow copy that has been saved by using the pulldown menu at the top.
A right-click on selected files or folders opens up a context menu with the option to restore these.
The user can restore files in the same folder or another one. A confirmation dialog pops up if he tries to restore the files in the same folder because they would overwrite the existing files obviously.
A message appears at the end of the operation telling the user if the file restore operation was successful.