- To start using File History in Win 8 or 10, lets start by turning this on. To do so, type “file history” into the search bar at the bottom left corner of your screen as shown in FIG 1.
- Hit the ‘enter’ key. A window will open up as shown in FIG 2:
- As you can see, File History was off by default on my Windows 10 machine. Here you will click to Configure File History settings.If you do not have a removable media device connected to your pc, you will get a pop up box that looks like this in FIG 3.
- Connect your removable media now. I have named my flash drive “Filehistory”, so FIG 4 now shows an external backup option now that I have connected my flash drive. Here you will turn On File History.
- File history is now on as shown in FIG 5. By default, windows backs up your important data that is stored under your user account’s home folder which includes your Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos. It also includes other folders like the Roaming Folder where many programs store data to, your OneDrive folder, and others. We will take a closer look at these in a bit. Now that file history has been turned on, you can also click the ‘Select Drive’ option on the left to choose to save to a Network location if you choose to do that instead of using external media. Now we will click the advanced settings on the left to set up your preferences.
- Under the advanced settings tab you have the option to choose how often you want this data backed up and how long you want to keep the backups, as shown in FIG 6 and FIG 7. The setting you choose will obviously depend on how often you add new data and the extent of the loss you could endure.
- Setting saved versions acts like a restore point for your data. In the event you need to revert something back to an earlier time before multiple changes have taken place, this allows you to choose an earlier restore point. Another option is to set only delete saved versions when space is needed.
- Now lets go to the backup settings to take a look at what folders are included in Windows File History backup. Just type “backup settings” in the Cortana search bar in the lower left hand corner of your screen as shown in FIG 8.
- This is the window you should see, shown in FIG 9. Here we are going to click ‘More options’.
- Under more options you will see the options again to set how often you want to back up files and how long to keep the files as well as the folders that File History is actually backing up as shown FIG 10. Here is where you can also add folders to your backup that are not being backed up by File History already. Know where your data is going and being held so you can make sure that these locations are included in this backup. Unless you change windows default file locations, you should be all set and safe to assume that your data is in one of these folders chosen by the file history backup program.
- When you choose to ‘Add a folder’ to include in the backup, file explorer opens up a window in which you can search for the folder you would like to add. By default, the explorer opens and starts at ‘This PC’ location, shown in FIG 11. Again, know where your data resides!
- Scroll down the screen in FIG 10 to the bottom and you will see here that you have the option to ‘Exclude’ certain folders from the backup, as shown in FIG 12.
- To search for a folder to ‘exclude’ that is being backed up by default, click on ‘Add a folder’ and follow the directory path listed for that folder that is displayed under the list of folders being backed up. For example, lets say I do not want to backup my music folder. Using the image below, I see that my Music folder is located under C:\Users\cdunn. This is where I will find the Music folder to select and add to the exclude list. Remember, when you click to ‘add a folder’ to exclude, file explorer opens and you will be sitting in the ‘This PC’ folder, as shown in FIG 11. Following the path, you will double click OS (C:) to enter the next folder in the path. See FIG 13. You are in the ‘C:’ folder in the path of C:\Users\cdunn.
- Following the path of, C:\Users\cdunn, we will double click the folder ‘Users’. See FIG 14. You are now seeing the list of users associated with this device. In this case, there is the Default Public profile and just one user profile named cdunn. Cdunn is the next folder in our path, so go ahead and double click this folder.
- Inside of cdunn is where we will see our Music folder that we want to exclude from the backup. Highlight the music folder and click the ‘Choose this folder’ button below. See FIG 15.
That’s it. You have now set up Folder History back up and defined your settings and preferences. Things I observed while doing this tutorial is one, the program immediately started creating my back up onto the flash drive but did not recognize ahead of time that my flash drive was not large enough to hold all of the data. While it allows me to connect another device to finish the back up to, and states it will not delete what it has already backed up on the first device, I recommend starting out with a back up media that will have enough room to hold all of your data, with a little extra room for growth over time. Also consider the room needed if you decide you want several copies of data backed up over a specific amount of time.