With the Windows 10 File History feature, you can back up copies of files and folders to secure locations in the case they are deleted by accident.
By default, the File History feature will back up the files that are in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, Desktop folders, but you can manually add custom folders as well.
You can configure File History feature with both fixed or primary disk and external drive. Microsoft recommends you select an externally connected drive such as a USB drive to save your backups for additional security.
Microsoft says there are other choices as well, including the option to save your data to a drive on a network.
How to setup File History on Windows 10
To get started with File History in the latest version of Windows 10, use these steps:
- Open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Backup.
- Click on the the “+” next to Add a drive.
- Choose your primary or external drive.
Once selected, File History will begin archiving your data. If you want to turn it off, use the on/off toggle which should appear under “Automatically back up my files” in the same page.
Below “Automatically back up my files”, click on “More options” and you can now configure the Backup options. You can use the drop-down menus to change the frequency of the backups.
Backing up custom folders with File History
By default, Windows 10’s File History is configured to save the default data folders under the user’s %UserProfile% folder at C:\users\[user]. Windows allows you to add folders of your own choice and start saving the content included in the folders.
If you want to add a custom folder, even one from a different drive than C: you can add it using these steps:
- In Settings > Update & Security > Backup, click on ‘More options’,
- Click on ‘Add a folder’ under “back up these folder” subheading.
- Clicking ‘Add a folder’ brings up a ‘Select Folder’ screen that can be used to select the folder you wish to backup.
For example, if our test we added the E:\outlook folder to be backed up using File History. As shown in the screenshot below, once the folder is selected, it will now be added to the list of folders that are backed up.
If you want to use an external drive, connect it to your PC and select the option to configure the drive for File History from the notifications toast. Or go back to the Settings and choose the new drive instead.
Restore files or folders using File History
When backing up files with File History, Windows 10 will store different versions of the files as they arebacked up.
In the even that a file is lost, damaged, or deleted, this allows you to restore the file you need from a specific backup date.
To restore a file with File History, you should follow these steps:
- Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder whose files you want to restore.
At the top of the File Explorer screen, under the Home tab, is a button named ‘History’ as shown below.
- Click on the History button, and the File History screen will be displayed showing the most current backup of this folder.
If you have backed up this folder on multiple dates, then you will be able to switch to the different dates to find the specific file you want to restore.
- To view the contents of a file before you restore it, you can right-click the file and select ‘Preview’.
- When you have found the file you want to restore, select it by left-clicking on it once and then click on the green restore button, shown below.
- Once you are done restoring your files, you can close the File History and File Explorer windows.
Note, that you can also restore an entire folder at once, by navigating to the folder above it and selecting and restoring a folder rather than a file.