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Enable and configure Windows File History [11, 10, 8] – The Crab Info

Who has never dreamed of being able to recover a deleted, modified or lost file? Know that this sweet dream is now a reality thanks to theFile history Windows. Appeared on Windows 8, this tool keeps a history of your personal files on an external storage medium, thus allowing you to restore files deleted by mistake as well as to restore previous versions of a document.

Available on Windows 11, Windows 10 and Windows 8, theFile history is the successor to previous versions of Windows 7.
Widely improved, it allows to recover deleted, lost, accidentally modified or damaged files much easier and much more precisely than before.

In this tutorial we will see how configure and use File History on Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows 8 so you can recover your files in case of deletion or unfortunate modification.

Understanding File History

To help you see more clearly on theFile history, here is a small example:

  • you create a text document “My project.odt” Monday;
  • you modify it on Tuesday morning, another time on Tuesday afternoon and one last time on Wednesday;
  • you accidentally delete it on Thursday;
  • Friday you can find the content of the document as it was Tuesday afternoon!

As you can see, this feature is both practice and very precise in its recovery mode.

If you are an avid Crab Info reader, you know that we have already talked about a tool to periodically back up your personal files on an external storage medium: Windows Backup.

Why use File History whereas there is the Windows Backup which is there and which does the same thing?

File History is a complement to Windows Backup. It is a recovery tool, not a backup tool.

With Windows 7, Microsoft realized that backing up files was not very popular among Windows users (telemetry showed less than 5% of “consumer” PCs were using Windows Backup; and even adding all third-party software, half of “consumer” PCs had no backup programs at all) .
The Redmond firm then decided to create a easier to use backup tool for users: theFile history.

With File History, the goal for Microsoft was to:

  • Make backup accessible so that any user can activate it without difficulty.
  • Eliminate complexity how to configure and use the backup.
  • Turn backup into an automatic and silent service that works in the background, without any user intervention.
  • Provide a very simple dining experience and attractive that makes it easy to find, preview and restore files.

Although these two tools seem similar, Windows Backup and File History work differently and each offer specific functions:

  • File history : protects the files located in the folders of the user directory (C: Users Le Crabe) by periodically scanning (by default every hour) the modifications made to these files. Whenever a file is edited, a copy of it is stored on an external storage drive. Over time, File History creates a complete history changes made to a file.
  • Windows backup : allows you to schedule a backup of the files at a specific date and time. It is possible to save any folder and even include a system image (an exact copy of your system) in the backup. It is a “real” backup solution.

By taking shadow copies of your files At regular intervals, File History allows you to restore an earlier version of a document from among a multitude of versions.
You wish recover a file that you changed yesterday at 7 p.m.?
With l’File history it’s possible !

Enable and configure Windows File History [11, 10, 8]

File History works differently depending on your version of Windows:

  • On Windows 11 and Windows 10, File History automatically makes a copy of the files located in the folders of the user directory (C: Users Le Crabe).
  • On Windows 8, only files that are in the user’s Libraries, Desktop, Contacts, Favorites, and OneDrive folders are copied.

File History requires the use of a storage device external such as an external hard drive, USB flash drive, or network drive.

Now let’s see how to enable and configure File History on Windows 11, Windows 10 and Windows 8.

via Control Panel

To enable and configure File History through Control Panel, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Control panel > System and security > File history.
  2. Select the disk that will keep the copies of the files by clicking on Configure the reader in the left column.
    select-a-windows8-files-history-drive
  3. Select either a external drive (USB key, external hard drive) or a network drive :
    • For a external drive : simply select your disk then click on OK.
    • For a network drive :
      • Click on Add a network location.
      • Select your network drive in the list of network locations then select the folder that will keep copies of files.
        freebox-history-files-windows8
      • To finish, select network drive (here: \ FREEBOX \ Hard disk History) in the list then click on OK.
        confirm-network-location-history-files-windows8
  4. File History is now activated : Copies of files located in your Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, Contacts, and OneDrive folders are now automatically saved on the storage drive you selected.
  5. If you want to exclude the copying of certain folders, click Exclude folders in the left column and select the folders to exclude.exclude-files-history-folders-windows8
  6. To configure File History more precisely, click advanced settings in the left column.
    Here are the available options:
    • Save copies of files : how often Windows should save copies of files (by default every hour).
    • Offline cache size : if you disconnect your storage drive, Windows will use your local hard drive to make copies of the files. You can choose the percentage of disk space that theFile history to copy files (by default 5% disk space). When you reconnect your storage drive, Windows will automatically move the copies of the files from the local hard drive to the storage drive.
    • Keep saved versions : the retention period of the copies of the files (by default forever).

    advance-parameters-history-files-windows8

  7. This is where you can delete older versions of files and folders. To do this, click on Clean Up Versions and choose when to delete older versions of files and folders (by default over 1 year).delete-older-versions-files

Congratulation : you have successfully enabled and configured File History via Control Panel! 👍

Tip: add other folders to protect (Windows 8)

By default, Windows 8 File History does not protect only files that are in the Libraries, Desktop, Contacts, Favorites, and OneDrive folders. This is a rather restrictive limitation when we know that the previous versions of Windows 7 allowed to protect any folder!

To make Windows 8 File History protect other folders, the trick is to create a new library in your home directory and include the folders you want to protect there:

  1. Create a new library : go to Libraries and right click on an empty area> New > Library.
    create-new-library-windows8
  2. Right click on your new library then select Properties.
  3. Click on the button Add.
    add-library-folders-windows8
    Add as many folders as you want!windows8-library-files
  4. Confirm by clicking on OK.

It’s done: now theWindows 8 File History will also keep copies of files located in folders added to your new library!

via Settings

To enable and configure File History through Windows 10 Settings, follow these instructions:

  1. Open them Settings.
  2. See you in Update and security > Backup.
  3. Click on Add reader and select the external storage medium that will keep the copies of the files.
  4. File History is now activated : copies of files saved in your home directory (C: Users Le Crabe) are now automatically saved on the storage drive you selected.
  5. To configure File History more precisely, click More options.
    Here are the available options:
    • Back up my files : how often Windows should save copies of files (by default every hour).
    • Keep my backups : the retention period of the copies of the files (by default forever).
    • Save these files : the list of folders to copy, with the possibility of adding others (Add a folder).
    • Exclude these files : the list of folders to exclude from copying, with the possibility of adding others (Add a folder).
    • Save to another drive : stop using the current storage disk to add another one.
  6. If you want even more options (size of the offline cache, erase previous versions of files, etc.), you will need to go through the Control Panel, Microsoft still has not migrated all the options on the dedicated page in the Windows 10 Settings application …

Congratulation : you have successfully enabled and configured File History via Windows 10 Settings! 👍

Restore a file with Windows File History

To restore a file deleted or modified by mistake with Windows File History, follow these instructions:

Restore a file from Windows File History [11, 10, 8]

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