File recovery

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

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

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

In this guide, you will learn several ways to enable Previous Versions to undelete as well as restore previous revisions of files store on your device running Windows 10.

How to enable Previous Versions using File History

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

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Update & Security.

  3. Click on Backup.

  4. Click the Add a drive button.

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

    Backup settings on Windows 10
    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.

How to enable Previous Versions using Restore Point

To enable restore point to recover lost or delete files with previous versions, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Create a restore point and click the top result to open “System Properties.”

  3. Select the drive with files that you want to use to restore previous versions.

  4. Click the Configure button.

    System Properties on Windows 10
    System Properties on Windows 10
  5. Select the Turn on system protection option.

    Enable restore points on Windows 10
    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.”

    Create restore point manually on Windows 10
    Create restore point manually on Windows 10
  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.

How to enable Previous Versions using Shadow copies

Alternatively, you can also use Volume Shadow Copy 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.

  3. Click the New Folder option.

    Task Scheduler new folder option
    Task Scheduler new folder option
  4. 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.)

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

    Task Scheduler create advanced task option
    Task Scheduler create advanced task option
  6. In the “Name” box, enter a name for the task.

  7. 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
    Task Scheduler general task settings
  8. Clear the Do not store password option.

  9. Click the “Triggers” tab and click the New button.

    Task Scheduler triggers settings on Windows 10
    Task Scheduler triggers settings on Windows 10
  10. Using the “Begin the task” drop-down menu, select the On a schedule option.

  11. Under “Settings,” specify when you want the task to run (for example, Daily). Whatever option you select, make sure to specify the Start settings on the right side.

    Task Scheduler schedule settings on Windows 10
    Task Scheduler schedule settings on Windows 10
  12. Click the OK button.

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

  14. Using the “Actions” drop-down menu, select the Start a program option.

  15. In the “Program/script” box, type the following command:

    wmic
  16. In the “Add arguments” box, type the following command:

    shadowcopy call create Volume=C:\
    Enable Previous Versions on Windows 10 with custom task
    Enable Previous Versions on Windows 10 with custom task

    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, and make sure to 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
    Task Scheduler additional settings for task
  19. Confirm your administrative username and password (if applicable).

  20. 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.

How to restore previous versions of files on Windows 10

To restore previous versions of files, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.

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

    Windows 10 File Explorer folder menu
    Windows 10 File Explorer folder menu
  3. Click the Previous Versions tab.

  4. Under the “File versions” section, you will find a list of the different times where 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.

  7. Select the Restore To option.

    Windows 10 previous versions file restore option
    Windows 10 previous versions file restore 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 delete file or folder.