To see the "bottom line" solution, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
A friend of mine had a major computer meltdown a month or so ago. She, like many other people, had not made "system restore" disks when she first bought her HP laptop (HP being too cheap to include them with the system). With multiple Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) issues...
....we decided that the best thing for her to do would be to restore the system back to factory condition. There WAS a "recovery" partition on the hard drive, so we figured we could get it back to "good as new" using that. But first, she ran a backup (using HP's supplied Backup and Recovery Tool) onto an external hard disk. That backup ran all night...and still seemed to stop in the middle...but it was all she had, at that point...she couldn't access her files anyway given that she couldn't get into Windows Vista.
So she ran the System Restore from the Recovery partition, and....more BSOD issues. (Now, we couldn't really understand why that would happen...wouldn't the Recovery partition contain a WORKING copy of Vista?!?!) Well, in any case, we finally decided the Vista install was toast, and that she should upgrade to Windows 7, which made sense for a whole lot of reasons. (For one thing, Windows 7 is, according to most commentators, vastly superior to--and faster than--Vista. For another...she'd have her CDs if she bought an upgrade.)
So, she upgraded to Win7, successfully...and has been running it, happily, since.
Of course, after she got her laptop working again, she was eager to get her files from the backup. There were two files in the backup (as I mentioned, I don't think it ever finished doing it's thing)...about 8 gigs of stuff (we're sure she had much more than that on her laptops 200 GB hard drive...but that's all she got). The files were backup.1.exe and backup.2.fbw. According to all the instructions we had read and could find, to restore the files, all you needed to do was...run backup.1.exe.
Well, no. Running the file caused C++ run-time errors.
Despite looking around the 'net for workarounds (and learning ALL about how to make sure to delete the "System Recovery Files" folder before trying to run the damn thing AGAIN)... being tempted to follow instructions to copy these files onto CD or DVD (um...not possible...too big) and even transferring the files to my Windows XP machine to see if we could run it there (nope...more run-time errors)...she pretty much gave up.
Well, as those who know me know...I...don't...give up. (A friend of mine calls me the "bulldozer" or, variously, the "snow plow" for this aspect of my personality.)