How to Enable File History and Set It Up to Backup Files

File History helps you backup important files at regular intervals. Here’s how you can enable File History in Windows 10 and set it up to backup files.

No matter who you are, it is very important that you backup all your important files to a separate disk or even to cloud storage. To help you with that, Windows has a built-in feature called File History. One of the best things about File History is that it saves versions of your files. So, if you ever need to restore a file or all the files, you can easily do that via the File History interface.

In this quick guide, let me share the steps to enable the file history feature and configure it to backup your files on schedule.

Prerequisites

To use the File History feature, you need an external hard drive. Since the File History is a backup tool, it will not backup files to the internal hard drive(s) as they are not that secure in terms of survivability in the event of any mishaps.

Steps to enable file history in Windows 10

To enable File History in Windows, follow the steps given below.

1. First, plug-in your external hard drive. The external hard drive can be in FAT32 or NTFS format.

2. After connecting the external hard drive, open the Settings app. You can do that by pressing the “Windows key + I” shortcut. Next, go to the “Update & Security → Backup” page.

3. Here, click on the “Add a drive” button under the “Back up using File History” section.

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4. Windows will now scan for connected external hard drives and displays them. Select the drive from the flyout menu.

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As soon as you select the drive, the File History feature is turned ON automatically. By default, Windows will back up all the user folders like desktop, downloads, pictures, videos, etc. You can also add custom folders to the backup. To do that, check the third section.

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If you open the external hard drive in File Explorer, you will see a new folder called “File History” where all the files are backed up.

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Change File History frequency

By default, File History will auto backup the files every hour as long as the external drive is connected. If needed, you can change the backup frequency to meet your needs. For example, you can change it from One Hour to Once a Day.

First, connect the external hard disk and open the Settings app. In the Settings app, go to the “Update & Security → Backup” page. On the right panel, click on the “More options” link.

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Now, select the backup frequency of your choice from the “Backup your files” dropdown menu.

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If you want to, you can also configure how long Windows will keep the backups from the “Keep my backups” dropdown menu. In my case, I let the defaults be. i.e, Windows will not delete any backups and I have to delete old backups manually.

Add folders to File History

Apart from the default user folders, you can also add custom folders to the backup. That way, you won’t lose any important files.

First, connect the external hard disk and open the Settings app. In the Settings app, go to the “Update & Security → Backup” page. On the right panel, click on the “More options” link.

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Now, click on the “Add a folder” option under the “Back up these folders” section.

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Select the folder you want to backup and click on the “Choose folder” button.

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The selected folder will be instantly added to the list of folders to backup. The next time Windows performs a backup, it will include the new folder. If necessary, click on the “Backup now” button at the top to trigger the backup right now.

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Disable file history & remove the external drive

If you no longer need the File History feature, you can disable it and even detach the linked external hard drive. Here’s how.

First, connect the external hard disk and open the Settings app. In the Settings app, go to the “Update & Security → Backup” page. Here, turn off the “Automatically back up my files” option.

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If you want to detach the drive, click on the “More options” link. Next, scroll all the way down and click on the “Stop using this drive” button.

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Restore files from File History

If you ever need to restore files backed up with File History, follow these steps.

First, connect the external hard disk and open the Settings app. In the Settings app, go to the “Update & Security → Backup” page. Here, click on the “More options” link on the right page.

Scroll all the way down and click on the “Restore files from the current backup” link.

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Now, select the folder or file you want to restore in the browse window and click on the “Restore” icon (the green icon) at the bottom.

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As soon as you click the button, Windows will restore the latest version of the files from the File History backup. Depending on the folder/file size, it can take some time to complete the process. After restoring the files, you can close the File History window and the Settings app.

Important Notes

Though the File History feature is pretty easy to use, there are a couple of things you should know.

First, the backed up files are unencrypted. This means that anyone with access to your external hard drive can see and access those backed up files.

When you turn off and detach the external hard drive from File History, it may not delete the backup files. So it is important that you delete them manually, if necessary.

For automatic backup to work, you need to have the external hard disk connected to the system. If the drive is not connected, File History cannot run the backup.

That is all I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible. If you like this article, check out how to create Windows 10 system image.

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