Using File History

by Barry Dysert
(last updated January 4, 2021)

By now we've all heard the mantra a hundred times: "Always back up your data." Well, Windows 10 makes it easy and even goes a bit beyond a mere backup. Using File History, you can have multiple versions of files available to you constantly, just in case you accidentally delete a file or edit it into oblivion. The only downside is that you have to have an external drive connected to your computer at all times (or use a reliable network drive). So instead of remembering to back up everything every week or so, you can have Windows taking snapshots of changed files on an ongoing basis, so you'll always have recent backups.

Let's say you have an external drive connected as drive E: and you want to use it for your file history. Type "Control Panel" (without the quotes) in the search box to the left of the task bar and press Enter. Windows displays the Control Panel. Under the System and Security heading, select Save Backup Copies of your Files with File History. Windows displays the File History window. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The File History window.

The first thing to do is to select a drive, so click Select Drive on the left. Your computer will search for available drives and present you with the Select Drive window. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Select Drive window.

Click the line containing your E: drive, and then click OK. After a moment you'll again see the File History window. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Associating a drive for File History.

As you can see, File History is now on, and it's using your E: drive as the backup location. What's happening in the background is that Windows is copying your files to your E: drive (so in reality you need a drive much bigger than my 114GB drive).

If you click the Advanced Settings link on the left, you have the opportunity to configure how File History does its work. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Modifying the advanced File History settings.

Here you can set up how frequently File History is run, from Daily down to every 10 minutes. You can also tell it how it should keep the saved versions of files by pulling down the "Until space is needed" drop down. If you make changes, be sure you click Save Changes, which will take you back to the main File History window.

Once your files have been copied to E:, you can then use the Restore Personal Files link (from the File History window) to get a file back in case you've corrupted or deleted your primary file. Just click the Restore Personal Files link and you'll be able to navigate to the file you want restored.

File History is a good, automatic way to ensure that you always have a recent backup of your files. Apart from needing an external drive to use it, I see no reason why not.

 This tip (775) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Using the FOR Statement

In another tip we were introduced to the various FOR loops that exist in Windows. The actual use of these loops was left ...

Discover More

Setting the Default Search Engine in Microsoft Edge

For some people, search engines are a religious issue. Fortunately, Microsoft Edge has left the door open for you to ...

Discover More

Sorting a Folder

When you have a lot of files in a folder, it is helpful to be able to know how to sort through all the files. Windows 10 ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Restoring from a Backup

Being able to restore from a backup is just as important as making the backup in the first place. This tip tells you how ...

Discover More

Saving Search Queries

Windows Explorer has a good search utility built into it. As you use it, you may wish to save your commonly typed ...

Discover More

Adding Locations to the Search Index

You can fine-tune Indexed Searches by adding locations to the search index. This tip tells you how.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.