How to Back Up Data Using the File History Feature in Windows 10

There are many ways you can lose files and other valuable data. Your computer might crash or be attacked by malware. Your hard drive might fail. Even dropping a laptop or spilling coffee on it can lead to data loss.

Experts recommend that you back up your data locally as well as to an offsite location, such as the cloud. That way, you will be able to quickly restore files from the local backups when needed. You will also have a copy of your data if a disaster (e.g., fire, tornado) destroys both your computer and your local backups.

While most people realise that backing up their data is a good idea, many fail to do so for a variety of reasons. The File History feature in Windows 10 helps eliminate some of those reasons by providing an easy, set-and-forget way to back up data locally to an external storage device or to another computer or storage device in a network. You cannot use this feature to back up data directly to a cloud storage solution.

After you set up the File History feature, it will automatically back up your data. By default, it will do so every hour and keep the backups forever. You can, however, change how often backups are taken and stored.

You can also change what folders are backed up. By default, File History backs up your contacts, links, downloads, favorites, desktop items, documents, pictures, videos, music, saved games, searches, and OneDrive files that are available offline. File History will not back up your computer's operating system, system settings, and applications. If you want to back up those items, you will need to create a system image.

One way to access the File History feature is to type "file history" in the search box and click "File History" in the search results. However, File History's advanced settings window will open. Setting up the feature from this window is not as intuitive as setting it up through the main interface. You can access the main interface by opening the File History feature through the Settings app. The following instructions on how to back up your files use that method to access File History.

How to Back Up Your Files to an External Storage Device

If you want to back up your files to an external storage device such as an external hard drive or USB drive, follow these steps:

  1. Click the "Start button" and select "Settings".
  2. Select the "Update — security" option.
  3. In the left pane, click "Backup".
  4. Connect the external storage device to your computer.
  5. Click the large button with the plus (+) sign, which is next to the "Add a drive" label.
  6. When prompted, choose the external storage device you connected in step 4.
  7. Notice the new "Automatically back up my files" option that appears. Its on/off slider will be set to the "On" position. Your files will now be automatically backed up.
  8. If you want to change the default settings for the File History feature, click the "More options" link under the on/off slider. Besides changing the folders to back up, you can change how often the backups occur and how long they are kept.

How to Back Up Your Files to a Network Location

If you want to back up your files to a computer or storage device in a home or business network, follow these steps:

  1. Click the "Start" button and select "Settings".
  2. Select the "Update — security" option.
  3. In the left pane, click "Backup".
  4. Click the "More options" link.
  5. Choose the "See advanced settings" option.
  6. Click the "Select a network location" link.
  7. Select the "Add network location" option and follow the instructions provided.
  8. Notice the new "Automatically back up my files" option that appears. Its on/off slider will be set to the "On" position. Your files will now be automatically backed up.
  9. If you want to change the default settings for the File History feature, click the "More options" link under the slider.

A Pretty Painless Process

With the File History feature in Windows 10, backing up your data locally is pretty painless. Once you configure the feature, it will run silently in the background. With the local backup process in place, you can then concentrate on how you want to handle your offsite backups.

Contact us for an assessment of your data backup options. We can provide personalised insights and recommendations for your company's data backup plan.