How to Use Windows File History to Back Up Your Data

It’s very important to have a back up of your material so that in the event that you have a computer failure, then you haven’t lost everything!

Many times I have had to advise a client of the sad news that all their data including precious photos from years past, have been lost due to a hard drive failure. This can be easily prevented by setting up an automated back up system. My philosophy is ‘its better to have three copies of one photo, then none at all’.

File History is an Windows 10’s main backup tool. After you set up File History, you can just connect an external drive to your computer and Windows will automatically back up your files to it. Leave it connected and Windows will back up automatically on a schedule.

File History is designed to be quick and easy to enable, first connect an external hard drive to your computer. Next, open the Settings app from your Start menu. Navigate to Update & Security > Backup.

Click or tap the “Add a drive” option under Back up using File History to add an external drive that File History will back up to. It’ll list external drives and give you the option to back up to them.

Select a drive, and Windows will use it for File History. The “Automatically back up my files” option will appear and be automatically turned on. Windows will automatically back up your files to the drive whenever you connect it to your computer.

How to Configure File History

Select “More options” to configure how often File History backs up, how long it keeps those backup copies, and–most importantly–which files it backs up.

File History automatically backs up your files every hour by default, but you can select a different time here. You can choose once every 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, or once per day.

It will normally keep your backups forever, but you can have it delete them when they become one month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, or 2 years old. You can also have File History automatically delete backups as necessary to make space on your File History drive.

By default, File History will be set to back up back up important folders in your user account’s home folder. This includes the Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos folders. It also includes the Roaming folder where many programs store application data, your OneDrive folder, and other folders.

You can check the full list of folders in this window, and add more folders. Select “Add a folder” and you’ll be able to choose any folder on your computer to back up. You can also select a folder here and use the “Remove” button to prevent Windows from backing it up.

How to Restore Files from Your Backup

To restore files from your external drive, open the Settings app, select “Update & security,” select “Backup,” select “More options,” scroll down to the bottom of the window, and select “Restore files from a current backup.”

You can also open the Control Panel, select “System and Security,” select “File History,” and click “Restore personal files.”

This interface will allow you to view your backups and restore files. Browse the available files and select one or more files or folders. You can preview them by right-clicking them or select them and click the green button to restore them to your computer.

To choose a time period, click the arrow buttons or the panes at the side of the window. You’ll also be informed how many different backup time periods are available. For example, in the screenshot below, the “2 of 3” at the top of the window indicates there are three available backups, and we’re viewing the second one. There’s one older backup available, as well as one newer one.

File History is a very simple and useful backup option, and it’s completely free.

It’s as easy as that, and it will save you so much anguish if something goes wrong with your computer.

As always, if you have any troubles with setting up your back up, or have some questions or would like me to come out and set it up for you. You can always get in touch with me on or 1300 682 817.

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