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File History in Windows

Set up a drive for File History

Before you start using File History to back up your files, you need to first select where your backups are saved. You can select an externally connected drive, such as a USB drive, or you can save to a drive on a network. There are other choices, but these two provide the best options to help protect your files against a crash or other PC problems.

File History only backs up copies of files that are in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. If you have files or folders elsewhere that you want backed up, you can add them to one of these folders.

If you're going to use a new external drive, connect it to your PC. If you see a notification asking if you want to configure the drive for File History, select it, and then turn on File History on the screen the appears.

Otherwise, follow these steps to choose either a network drive or an external drive that’s already connected to your PC.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)
  2. Enter File History settings in the search box, and then select File History settings.
  3. Select Select a drive, and choose the network or external drive you want to use.
  4. Turn on File History.

Restore files or folders using File History

File History regularly backs up versions of your files in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. Over time, you'll have a complete history of your files. If the originals are lost, damaged, or deleted, you can restore them. You can also browse and restore different versions of your files. For example, if you want to restore an older version of a file (even if it wasn't deleted or lost), you can browse through a timeline, select the version you want, and restore it. 

Follow these steps to restore files or folders using File History.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Search (or if you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search), enter restore your files in the search box, and then select Restore your files with File History.
  2. Enter the name of file you're looking for in the search box, or use the left and right arrows to browse through different versions of your folders and files.
  3. Select what you want to restore to its original location, and then select the Restore button.

    If you want to restore your files to a different location than the original, press and hold or right-click the Restore button, select Restore To, and then choose a new location.
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Article ID: 17128 - Last Review: Aug 31, 2016 - Revision: 22

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