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Back up your PC using windows File history

“Windows 10 can automatically back up up all the files on your PC using a system called File History


Windows File History backs up all files found in C:\Users which means any documents, pictures, videos there are safe.

If you make a mistake or a file becomes damaged, you can restore a previous version with a few clicks of your mouse. In order to start using File History, you will need to connect an external storage drive to your PC.

Ideally, buy a brand new drive to use specifically for backing up, as this will ensure nothing interferes with File History. Your drive must remain connected whenever backups are running.

Step-by-step Get started with File History

Prepare your drive

In order to start backing up your files, you’ll need a dedicated external storage drive. Connect the drive to your PC and click the Search button at the bottom-left.

Type ‘Disk’, then click ‘Create and format hard disk partitions’. Disk Management will open. Right-click the external drive and choose Format.

The default options are fine, so click OK. Wait for the format to finish.

Add a backup drive

Click your Start menu and then on Settings. Scroll down to ‘Update & security’. Click this, then choose Backup from the sidebar. Click the ‘+’ icon next to ‘Add a drive’.

Windows will search for and display your external drive. Click this. File History is now enabled and will back up your data.

To get the ball rolling, click ‘More options’. Click ‘Back up now’ to start a backup manually.

Set backup frequency

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Wait for your first backup to complete. The ‘Backup options’ window will give the exact date and time of the last backup. Click on the drop-down menu marked ‘Back up my files’.

From here, you can change the frequency of your backup. The default is every hour. You can back up less often if you like, but the external drive must be connected whenever a backup is run.

Choose how long to keep backups

Click the ‘Keep my backups’ drop-down menu to choose how long you wish to keep backups for. The default is Forever.

Windows File History backs up incrementally in other words, if you make changes to a file, it will save only those changes, not the entire file each time.

That said if you’re concerned you may run out of space, you can set a different duration.

Manage backup folders

By default Windows 10 will back up all files found in C:\ Users. In other words, all files found in Desktop, Documents, Pictures and so on for each user account.

Scroll down past ‘Back up these folders’ to see a full list of folders. If you wish to exclude a folder, click on it and then on the button marked Remove. Click the ‘+’ next to ‘Add a folder’ to back up a folder outside C:\Users.

Restore file versions

If you want to revert to a previously saved version of a file, right-click it and choose Properties. In the new window that opens, click the Previous Versions tab.

Click on the version you want, then on the Restore button at the bottom-right to revert. Alternatively click on Restore, then Restore To, to copy a previous version of the file to a different folder, such as your desktop.

Open in File History

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If you’re not sure which version of a file to restore, click on Open, then choose ‘Open in File History’.

This window enables you to preview various versions of your files. Not all files support this feature, but feel free to scroll up and down text documents if you need to check a specific word or phrase. Click the green button in the centre of the window to restore a file.

Check for errors

If you encounter a problem when backing up a file, return to the ‘Backup options’ window in Settings, scroll down and choose Advanced Settings.

This will open File History settings in the Control Panel. Choose ‘Advanced Settings’ on the left, then choose ‘Open File History event logs to view recent events or errors’, such as the one shown in the image above.


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