How to use File History on Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 5, 2016
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

File History is a security feature of the Windows operating system that backs up important files automatically when enabled so that they can be restored at a later point in time.

The feature, introduced in Windows 8 and also part of Windows 10, is not enabled by default on Microsoft's newest operating system.

It is unclear why that is the case, but the most likely explanation is that it requires a secondary drive or network location as the backed up data needs to be stored somewhere (actually, it is possible to use File History without a second drive).

File History is a useful feature if no other means of backup are used on the system. While it can be used to restore files, it cannot be used to restore the operating system itself if it stops working.

File History on Windows 10

File History is not enabled on Windows 10 by default, and the first thing that you need to do is set it up in the Settings application.

file history windows 10

To enable File History, do the following:

  1. Use the shortcut Windows-i to open the Settings application.
  2. Switch to Update & Security > Backup.
  3. There you find the "Back up using File History" option.
  4. Click on "add a drive" to add a local or network drive for use by the feature.
  5. Windows 10 scans all connected drives and displays them in list format on the screen. Select a drive that you want to use.
  6. You will notice that the feature is set to "on" afterwards automatically.

File History will create a FileHistory folder in the root location of the drive automatically and back up all files to it.

file history options

Click on the more options link to configure the feature. The default settings are the following:

  • Back up files every hour.
  • Keep backups forever.
  • Back up the following folders: Saved Games, Links, Downloads, Favorites, Contacts, OneDrive, Desktop, Searches, Music, Videos, Saved Pictures, Public Videos, Camera Roll, Public Music, Documents, Public Documents, Pictures, Public Pictures,  Workspace, and all folders under the current user account.

You may change the backup interval between "every 10 minutes" to "daily", and the backup storage time between "until space is needed" and forever.

All folders that files are backed up from by default can be removed, and you may add custom folders on top of that. It makes sense to go through the listing since it is very likely that you don't need files backed up in all selected folders, and that it is likely that some folders are not included that you want files backed up from regularly.

The removal process is slow, as the folder listing is updated every time you remove a single folder from the listing.

How to restore files manually

Windows offers several ways to restore files backed up the the file history feature. Probably the easiest of them all is to right-click on a file in File Explorer to select the "restore previous versions" option displayed in the context menu.

Switch to previous versions in the properties window that opens up, or, and that is another option to get to the menu, right-click on files and select properties manually instead to access the same menu.

file history restore

Windows lists all saved file versions in the interface, and the two main options to open a previous version of the file or restore it right away.

You may also click on the arrow icons next to the two buttons to "open the file in File History", or "restore it to a custom location".

Closing Words

File History is a file-based backup application that is built-in to new versions of the Windows operating system. While useful in itself, it should not be the only means of backing up data on the system as it won't help you restore Windows if it fails to boot or if you encounter other operating system related errors.

For files though it is useful as it adds file-versionining to the operating system provided that you add the right folders to the list of monitored directories.

Now you: Do you use file History or another backup solution?

How to use File History on Windows 10
Article Name
How to use File History on Windows 10
Find out how to use the file backup feature File History on devices running Microsoft's new operating system Windows 10.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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