Make automatic backups with File History

File History

Windows 8 comes with a new backup feature called File History. Once turned on, File History continuously backs up files in your Libraries, Desktop, Favourites, and Contacts folders, copying them to an external location such as an external hard drive.

At set intervals, a separate copy of each file is stored – so over time, you have a complete history of the file and any changes that have been made to it.

File History is easy to set up and runs automatically in the background making backups of all your important files.

Set up File History
Before you start using File History, you need to set up a location to save your files to. This can be either a network location, an external hard drive or even a flash drive (one of those cheap memory sticks), although the latter may lack the storage capacity required to back up all of your files. In this example, we’ve used an external hard drive.

Step 1  Connect the external hard drive to your computer with a USB cable.

Step 2  Click the pop-up notification that appears on screen saying Tap to choose what happens with removable drives.

Step 3  Click the Configure this Drive for Backup option and when the File History window appears, click Turn On.

If after Step 1, you don’t see a pop-up notification when you’ve plugged in your external hard drive, following the steps below.

Step 2  Move your cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen and right click the thumbnail, then from the Power User menu that appears, click Control Panel.

Step 3  Click System and Security and then File History.

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Step 4  Click Turn on. File History is now activated and hourly (by default) backups of your files will be made.

Restore a file
Step 1  Move your cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen and right click the thumbnail, then from the Power User menu that appears, click Control Panel.

Step 2  Click System and Security and then click File History

Step 3  Click Restore personal files. Type the name of the file you want to restore into the search box, or use the left and right arrows to browse your folders and files.

Step 4  Select the file, then click Restore to restore to its original location. To restore a file to a different location, right-click Restore, click Restore To, then choose a new location.

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Change File History settings
To avoid filling up your File History drive too quickly, you can change how often files are copied and how long older versions of the files are kept for.

Step 1  Move your cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen and right click the thumbnail, then from the Power User menu that appears, click Control Panel.

Step 2  In the Control Panel, click System and Security and then File History.

Step 3  Click Advanced settings.

Step 4  On the Advanced settings page, do one of the following:

  • Change how frequently files are saved by clicking the drop down arrow next to Save copies of files, and choosing a time interval.
  • Change how long files are kept for by clicking the drop down arrow next to Keep saved versions, and choosing a time interval.

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Step 5  Click Save changes.

Exclude folders from File History backup
If you don’t want a folder to be backed up, you can exclude it from File History.

Step 1  Move your cursor to the bottom left corner of your screen and right click the thumbnail, then from the Power User menu, click Control Panel.

Step 2  In the Control Panel, click System and Security and then File History.

Step 3  Click Exclude folders, click Add, and then select the folder you want excluded from File History’s backups.

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Step 4  Click Save changes.

Windows 8 saves a copy of your files in a folder named FileHistory on your chosen drive. Be careful not to move this folder, otherwise Windows 8 may be unable to find it when you want to restore files.

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