How to enable Previous Versions to recover files on Windows 10

Yes, you can recover deleted and lost files using Previous Versions with File Explorer, and in this guide, you'll learn the steps to set it up.

Windows 10 enable previous versions
Windows 10 enable previous versions

On Windows 10, “Previous Versions” is a feature that allows you to recover lost or deleted files using File Explorer.

Previous Versions are copies of files and folders the system saves automatically as part of a shadow copy, which means that you have to configure a restore point or File History. Or you have to use a combination of Task Scheduler and commands to create shadow copies at different intervals automatically.

This guide will teach you the ways to enable Previous Versions to undelete and restore previous revisions of files stored on your device running Windows 10.

Enable Previous Versions from File History

To configure File History to enable Previous Versions, connect an external drive to your computer, and use these steps:

  1. Open Settings on Windows 10.

  2. Click on Update & Security.

  3. Click on Backup.

  4. Click the “Add a drive” button.

  5. Select the drive to use as the backup drive.

    Backup settings on Windows 10

Once you complete the steps, every backup revision of File History will become available to restore files using Previous Versions in File Explorer.

File History has more options and settings that you can configure. Check out this guide to learn more about them.

Enable Previous Versions from Restore Point

To enable System Restore to recover lost or deleted files with previous versions on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Create a restore point and click the top result to open the System Protection settings.

  3. Select the drive with files to restore previous versions.

  4. Click the Configure button.

    System Properties on Windows 10

  5. Select the “Turn on system protection” option.

    Enable restore points on Windows 10

  6. Click the Apply button.

  7. Click the OK button.

  8. Click the Create button.

  9. Specify a description for the restore point. For example, Restore Point “date” and “time.”

  10. Click the Create button.

  11. Click the Close button.

  12. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, you can use the snapshot to restore previous versions of files on your device every time a new restore point is created. However, unless you create new restore points manually, the number of snapshots for recovery will be limited.

Enable Previous Versions from Shadow copies

Alternatively, you can also use the “Volume Shadow Copy” feature with Task Scheduler to create snapshots of the data on the drive to recover files using Previous Versions.

To configure Volume Shadow Copy to enable Previous Versions on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Right-click the Task Scheduler Library folder and select the New Folder option.

    Task Scheduler new folder option

  3. Type any name for the folder (for example, MyTasks) and click the OK button. (We are creating a new folder to keep tasks organized and separated from the system tasks.)

  4. Right-click the recently created folder and select the Create Task option.

    Task Scheduler create advanced task option

  5. Confirm a name for the task in the “Name” box.

  6. Under the “General” tab, under the “Security options” section, select the “Run whether user is logged on or not” option under the “Security options” section. (This option will make the command window not appear when the task runs automatically.)

    Task Scheduler general task settings

  7. Clear the “Do not store password” option.

  8. Click on the “Triggers” tab.

  9. Click the New button.

    Task Scheduler triggers settings on Windows 10

  10. Select the “On a schedule” option in the “Begin the task” drop-down menu.

  11. Under the “Settings” section, select when to run the task, such as “Daily.” (Whatever option you select, specify the “Start” settings on the right side.)

    Task Scheduler schedule settings on Windows 10

  12. Click the OK button.

  13. Click the “Actions” tab and click the New Button.

  14. Select the “Start a program” option from the “Actions” drop-down menu.

  15. Type the following command in the “Program/script” box:

  16. Type the following command in the “Add arguments” box:

    shadowcopy call create Volume=C:\

    Enable Previous Versions on Windows 10 with custom task

    Quick note: The above command will make a shadow copy of the content available in the “C” drive. If you store files in another location, remember to update the command with the correct drive letter.
  17. Click the OK button.

  18. Click the “Settings” tab.

  19. Check the following options:

    • Allow task to be run on demand.
    • Run task as soon as possible after a scheduled start is missed.
    • If the task fails, restart every.

    Task Scheduler additional settings for task

  20. Confirm your administrative username and password (if applicable).

  21. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the command will run on the schedule to create volume shadow copies, which you can then use to restore files using Previous Versions.

Restore previous versions of files on Windows 10

To restore previous versions of files on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

  2. Right-click the parent folder with the file to restore and select the Properties option.

    File Explorer context menu properties

  3. Click the Previous Versions tab.

  4. Under the “File versions” section, you will find a list of the different times when a shadow copy was created that allows you to recover a file (or folder).

  5. Select the content.

  6. Click the arrow button next to the Restore button.

    Windows 10 restore file previous version

  7. Select the Restore To option.

  8. Select the location to restore the file (or folder).

  9. Click the Select folder button to restore the files.

After you complete the steps, you’ll have restored a lost or deleted file or folder.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and