File Backup

How to use ‘File History’ on Windows 10 to backup files

File History in Windows 10 is the one feature you want to use to backup your personal files, and in this guide you get all the instructions on how to use it.

File History in Windows 10

Windows 10 includes the “File History” feature, which is meant to help you to quickly create incremental backups of your personal files on an external or network drive to prevent data loss against storage failure, accidental deletion, or data damage.

By default, File History backs up your personal files stored in Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music, and Desktop folders, including the OneDrive offline files in your computer. Of course, if you have files on another location, you will need to add those locations in the File History settings to make sure they get backed up.

On Windows 10, the file backup feature remains pretty much unchanged, but now you can also configure the feature using the Settings app.

Using the Settings app, users can turn on automatic backup and access a number of options, such as control how often file backups are made, how long should files be kept, include and exclude folders, and the ability to configure a different drive to make automatic backups.

Once the feature is configured, it will create a copy of your personal files that have changed since the last time the backup was performed. Over time, these incremental backups will pile up for you to recover any of them as needed, and you can even restore different versions of each file.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to set up File History on an external drive or network folder using the Settings app on Windows 10. In addition, you’ll see the steps to recover files as needed.

How to set up ‘File History’ on Windows 10

To set up Windows 10’s File History on your computer, do the following:

  1. Connect the external hard drive to your computer. (It can be any kind of storage with enough space, e.g., Hard Drive, Flash Drive, etc.)

  2. Open Settings.

  3. Click on Update & security.

  4. Click on Backup.

  5. Click the Add a drive button.

    File History - Add a drive

  6. Windows 10 will search for available drives, and from the list select the drive you want to use as the backup drive.

    File History - select drive

  7. Once you have turn on File History in Windows 10, you can click the More options link to get access to a number of options.

    File History - Windows 10 options

    If you prefer to create an on demand backup, you can click the Back up now button.

    Then the following options will give you the ability to configure frequency and the time you want to keep the backups. Under “Back up my files”, you can leave the Every hour (default) option, or you can click the dropdown list to select the frequency. Under “Keep my backups”, you can choose to keep File History backups Forever, Until space is needed, or a number of different time in months and years.

    Then you can add or remove folders that Windows 10 to include in your File History setup. You can click the Add a folder to do just that, or click one of the default folders and click the Remove button to remove the folder and its content from being backed up.

    File History - Backup options

    If you want to select a folder, but inside there are other folder you don’t want to backup, you can specify those folders under “Exclude these folders”. Simply click the Add a folder, browse and select the location to exclude.

    File History - Backup options (two)

    Finally, if you want to stop using the drive to make backups or you’re planning to use a different drive, you can properly do so by clicking the Stop use drive.

How to set up ‘File History’ using a network folder

Unlike the version of File History in Windows 8.1, Microsoft is improving the feature with Windows 10 for users to have more control using the Settings app. However, not every setting can be configured through the Settings app. For example, if you’re looking to set up a network location to make a File History automatic backups, you will need to use the old Control Panel settings.

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on System and Security.

  3. Click on File History.

  4. From the left pane, click Select drive.

    File History - Control Panel - Select Drive

  5. Click the Add network location link.

    File History - Add network location

  6. Browse the network shared and click OK to add the location to the list.

  7. Click OK to complete the task.

How to restore files using ‘File History’

Restoring files is also an easy task. On Windows 10, you have a different number of ways to access your files using File History:

  • Settings > Update & security > Backup > More options > Restore files from a current backup.
  • Control Panel > System and Security > File History> Restore personal files.
  • Open the Start menu, do a search for Restore your files with File History, and press Enter.

All of the options mentioned above will open the same dashboard where you can use the main controllers to navigate back and forth between different backups. Once you find the file or folder you want, simply click the green button to restore the content to its original location.

Restore files using File History

Wrapping things up

Finally, it’s important to note that File History is just that, it’s a feature to backup your personal files. File History won’t make a backup of your programs, settings, or operating system files. If you want to a do full backup of your system, you want to use the System Image Backup utility.

What kind of backup do you use for your personal files? Tell us in the comments below.