I am using the native Windows 2008 backup to do nightly backups. It is using an entire drive as the backup. Can I restore the files on a different machine completely, or does it have to be on the same machine? Does it work the same way in Windows 7 / W2K8 R2?
First question is answered already: Restore windows server image backup from one server to another
Second question: While the feature set in R2 provides more options (best one is using UNC network path as backup location) the core VSS-based (image) backups feature is the same. To restore to the same machine just boot to the install disk and choose repair to get started. In summary Win7/2008R2 backups are same or better then Vista/2008.