Windows 11/10: How to Backup and Restore Files using File History

Starting with Windows 8 and now in Windows 11/10, there is a native Backup and Restore feature which allows you to regularly back your data into an external drive and restores if you accidentally delete the file or damage it. This post will guide you to backup and restore files, folders, and drive using File History.

Windows 11/10: How to Backup and Restore Files using File History

Windows 11/10: How to Backup and Restore Files, Folders and Drive using File History

  1. Requirement
  2. Setting up File history
  3. Excluding Files and Folders.
  4. Testing Backup.
  5. Testing Restore.
  6. Advance Settings

Related: How to backup/restore Windows 11/10 App Data

1] Requirement

  • Windows 11/10 PC
  • External drive with ample free space to backup all the data.
  • Make sure the external hard drive is connected and visible to your computer. It can be over a network or connected directly to the PC.

2] Setting up File History in Windows 11/10

Type in File History on your Start screen, and you should see it listed under Settings. Once launched, you should see your hard disk listed with one of the partitions already selected.

File history in Windows to backup restore

So if you are not sure, first change the drive by using the select drive option on the left. It will list down the available partition, and you can choose any of the locations. Also, here, you can choose to select a network drive if that’s what your storage location has to be.

Select Drive or Network Drive for File History on Windows

3] Excluding Files and Folders

Before turning it on, decide what you don’t want to backup. It will make sure your backup completes faster, and you don’t waste unnecessary space on your storage device. You will be able to add Drives, Folders, and Libraries as an exception.

Exclude Files from File history of Windows

While many of you may choose to backup only required data, backing up the entire PC is not a bad idea. It will ensure you can restore almost everything.

4] Test Drive File History

Done that; it’s time you need to test it out. So go back to the File History mane page and click on the “Turn on” button, and it will start backing up your data instantly.

File history in Action

You can also make sure by checking the Hard Drive you’re selected to take the backup. See if your computer name and your user name are listed. It will also have data inside it. Here is how it looks:

File History Backup Organization

The data is visible in the exact format as on your computer, i.e., This means there is no encryption, and anybody having access to this will have access to the data.

5] Restoring Files in Windows 11/10

No backup is perfect unless you can restore it. File History has an excellent restore user interface which gives you file-level access to choose what to restore. So it can not only bulk replace files but can also restore individual files.

Use the Restore Personal Files link on the left pane to open the interface. You will be able to view all your folders by date. Each of these folders can be browsed and previewed before restoring. When it comes to restoring, you can either restore it to the original location or to anywhere else you want to save it. It is also possible to search the backup for a file if you do not remember the name or location of the data.

Restoring Files from File History of Windows 11/10

6] File History Advance Settings in Windows 11/10

Now let’s take a look at various settings for file history. It will help you control the size of the data being backed up and help you troubleshoot in case of problems. Click on the Advanced Settings link on the left pane of File History.

Versions :

  1. Decide how often the backup should take place. I would recommend you to set a daily backup for regular users. However, if your priorities are different, you may choose from every 10 minutes to 12 hours. It can be helpful if you are working on real-time data.
  2. Offline Cache: Choose between 5 to 20% of the disk cache. The cache is there to store the changed files locally if the backup drive is disconnected. The application will move the content in the cache to the drive as soon it comes online.
  3. How long will you like to keep the saved version? If you are running out of space, you may choose to auto-delete files every few months or set it to delete when some space is required automatically.

Manually Cleaning up Saved version of File History: Right under where you choose “Keep Saved version,” you have an option for deleting the saved version manually. Hit the clean up versions link, and it will give you the option to delete files that are a year old or a month old or delete all except the recent one.

Manually Cleaning up Saved versions of File history Backup

Network: As I said in the starting, you can set this drive for other users to use as backup storage. It’s a great option when you have a lot of computers on your network. They will be shown this drive as the recommended drive for backing up data when they set File History for the first time.

Error Logs: In case you see errors like Drive Disconnected or File not backed up, Event Log for File history tells you everything.

File History Error Logs

Summary

File history is an excellent option to backup your files, which is easy to set up and restore for every user. However, this is not equivalent to System Restore, or System reset, which can fix your computer from any driver or slow performance issues. Also, since the files are not encrypted, make sure to keep the drive off from people you do not trust.

Is File History a Good Backup?

If you are looking for an in-house solution that is simple to use and works, then yes, File History is a good backup solution. It has its limitation: you cannot get access to every version of the file you change, but it is simple to restore. You only need to make sure that the external drive stays connected to the PC or Laptop all the time.

What Is the Difference Between File History and Backup?

Backup creates a system image of everything on the PC. Most backup solutions offer sector-by-sector or clones of the entire primary storage, while some offer customized backups based on the requirement. File History, on the other hand, only takes backup of files. Backup software allows you to recover the entire OS without reinstalling anything, but with File History, you can only recover files.

Can I Use File History to Transfer Files to a New PC?

Yes, you can, which makes moving to a new Windows PC a lot easier. Open File History from the control panel, then select Save backup copies of your files with File History from the list of results. Next, follow the instructions to restore your files.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “2. Offline Cache : This helps you to get faster data access. Choose between 5 to 20% of disk cache.”
    No, the cache is there to locally store the changed files in case the backup drive is disconnected. As soon as it is reconnected the cache content is moved over to that drive initially set up.

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