How to use File History on Windows 10

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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.

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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?


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.


Martin Brinkmann

About Martin Brinkmann

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News Back in 2005. He is passionate about all things tech and knows the Internet and computers like the back of his hand. You can follow Martin on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

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