Windows 8 Data 'File History' Backup
Windows 8 Data 'File History' Backup – a PC Time Machine

Windows 8 Data 'File History' Backup – A Simple, 'Easy to Use'  Backup to External Drive

Windows 8 now gives you an 'easy to use' data file backup feature, and like time travel, gives you the ability to wind the clock back and recover any file at a given date or even time. This function is known as 'File History', and  backups all data files at user defined intervals, similar to 'Time Machine' in Apple's Mac OS .  The backup runs automatically at user defined intervals without any user intervention, all you need to do is ensure your external hard drive is plugged in and running.

File History by default it backs up all documents in your Libraries, Desktop Favourites, and Contacts. This includes all files and folders in your Desktop, Documents, Public Documents, Music, Public Music, Pictures, Public Pictures, Videos, and Public Videos.  File History will automatically includes newly added sub folders to any of your libraries.   It is a comfort to know this backup feature goes one step further, and tracks changes on backed up documents, which makes it possible to recover documents as at a given date, and even time.

Ideally backups should always be kept on an external hard drive, this is in case you ever experience a hard drive failure, if both your original and backup documents only reside on the one drive, then you can be at risk of losing all data. However, it is nice to know if you do leave your external drive at home, your Windows 8 File History feature will continue to cache document versions  to your computer's hard drive.

Below is a basic tutorial on how to setup and configure File History:

How to Enable 'File History':

Plug in your external hard drive, this will be needed for configuring your 'File History' backup.

1. From the Start Screen (Metro Interface), start typing "Con" for Control Panel, and click on the 'Control Panel' tile when it appears, as shown below:


2. Click on " Save backup copies of your files with File History", as seen below and indicated by a red arrow, this will open your 'File History' window:


3. In the 'File History' window, click on 'Turn On", and then click on 'Select Drive' as indicated on the following screen print:


4. Select your external hard drive, you will see listed all external hard drives plugged into your computer, once selected, click on OK to save, see example:


How to Run Initial Backup:

5. You will then be taken back to the File History window, click on 'Run Now' (as indicated by red arrow) to commence a backup to your selected drive:


How to Exclude Folders from File History Backup

6. File History by default backs up all of your data files and folders, however, if you specifically want to exclude any folder or folders, in the 'File History' window, select 'Exclude Folders' option as indicated by red arrow:


7. In the 'Select Folder' window, you have a browse box where you can navigate to, and select folders for exclusion from backup. Simply select the folder you do not want to backup, in this example we have selected 'Videos' folder, then click on the 'Select Folder' button, then click on Save Changes. You can exclude as many folders as you want, by this same process.


How to Configure File History Backup

8. Click on "Advanced Settings" as indicated below. This screen will allow you to specify the following:


'Save copies of files'  gives you the option to define how often you want File History back to run, you can run it as often as every 10 minutes, or you can run daily, and there are lots of choices between

'Size of Offline Cache'  gives you the option to define the limit for the space allocated for the caching of your backup's to your hard drive (not your external drive), as file history also saves documents to your hard drive as well as your external drive,

'Keep Saved Versions' this will give you the option to define how long you wish to keep saved versions of your documents.  The  more often File History runs, the more versions you will have of your documents, the more disk space will be used.  This is a useful housekeeping feature, you may want to utilise if you do not need to keep all versions of your documents older than 1 month, 6 months, or even 2 years.

Screen example of 'Advanced Settings':


Congratulations, you have now completed setting up your backup (File History).  Your backup will run at the interval you defined in Step 8.  Ensure you always have your external drive plugged in each time you use your comptuer for the purposes of editing existing documents, creating and/or downloading of new documents, photos and or videos. 

How to Restore Your Documents

1.  Click on 'Restore personal files' option on the left of the 'File History' window, as shown below:


2.  'The Home - File History' window opens, which gives you both a browse box for your libraries, and documents, as well as the ability to scroll backwards to the date and time you wish to restore your file (or files) from.  Simply scroll to the left to select the date and time you wish to restore from, by using the left |< and right >| scroll buttons on the lower middle of the window.  See example:


3.  You can restore a single file, or a group of files, and can also restore from the folder level, and even select multiple folders.  This can be done by using the browse box to select your data to restore (left click, or if selecting multiple files, hold down the CTL button while doing multiple selections with your mouse).    In this example, the 'Pictures' library files have accidentally been deleted, and the images need restoring back to their original location.  In the browse box, right click on 'Pictures' and select the 'Restore' option, this immediately restores all lost pictures to the 'Pictcures' library, as seen in the screen print example below:



4.  Go to 'Pictures' folder (or the folder you have restored documents) to confirm your pictures(files) have been restored, you can see below a screen print of the empty Pictures folder before the restore, and a screen print after the 'retore' was completed, with all files being recovered into their original location.



This tutorial has shown in a few quick and easy steps how to setup File History in Windows 8, how to configure your backup, and how to restore files from backup.

This completes our tutorial on 'Windows 8 Data 'File History' Backup', if you would like to check out our other Windows 8 Tutorials, click here: Windows 8 Tutorials

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