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 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.
To enable File History, do the following:
File History will create a FileHistory folder in the root location of the drive automatically and back up all files to it.
Click on the more options link to configure the feature. The default settings are the following:
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.
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".
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?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.