Please describe your situation in a lot more detail.
My computer PC, running Windows 7 crashed and has been replaced. Therefore, I had to reload the LR 5.71 software and now I need to reinstall/import my files back into the program from the latest backup folder. How do you do this? Just file, open? Does it have to be a catalog file?
All of the adjustments that you made to those images were stored in the catalog that you were using. In order to restore all of the editing you have done you will need to be able to open the catalog you are using before. Hopefully, your images will be in the same location on the same drive. If they are on a different drive or organized differently then you will have to synchronize your catalog to your images.
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Yes you need the catalog file as all the adjustment are saved on the catalog file. If the catalog is file is damaged or lost, then i'm afraid we will not able to able to get the edits that you have done on the images back.
We have to re-import the images and start from the scratch,