Windows 8 How To: 27. Backup your Files Using File History

Prior to Windows 8, you can back up documents and files using the Backup and Restore feature available in Control Panel | Backup and Restore (in Windows 7 for example). Windows 8 Consumer Preview has enhanced the feature and replace it with File History, as shown in the screenshot below.

File History automatically backs up files that are in your libraries, contacts, favorites, and on your desktop. If you have files or folders elsewhere that you want backed up, you can move them into one of your existing libraries or create a new library. If the originals are lost, corrupted, or deleted, you can restore all of them. You can also find different versions of your files from a specific point in time. Over time, you'll have a complete history of your files.


Backup libraries, contacts, favorites, and what’s on your desktop

See my previous post on how to access the Control Panel. From the Control Panel, select File History. Or you can search on “backup” in Settings from the Charms Bar in Metro UI and select Save backup copies of your files with File History.


  You can use either an external drive or network location to turn on File History.


For example, I have a Gateway FreeAgent GoFlex external drive. As soon as I plug it in via a USB port, Windows 8 detects the connection and asks me to use the drive. Once I select it, I can turn on or off File History. I can change a drive later on if needed.


Use the Exclude folders option if you don't want a folder backed up. Use the Advanced settings option to choose how often you want to save the copies of your files and how long you want to keep the saved versions. You can manually clean up saved versions.


Once the File History is set up properly, the backup task should work behind the scenes. And you can find and locate the files from the backup folder on the drive, File History, by default. For example, I can find and view the test doc.rtf from the Documents folder.


Note: The backup task is automatically stopped if the external drive is disconnected or the network location is not available.

Backup Other Folders

If you have a folder that is not included by default, you can either add the folder to an existing library or creating a new library and then adding it to the new library. Remember that a library is just a logical group or container that holds pointers to the locations where the files are actually stored. See more info on what is a library below.

Libraries are collections where you can get to all your documents, music, pictures, and other files in one single place. In some ways, a library works just like a folder: you can use it to browse and sort files. But unlike a folder, a library gathers files that are stored in several locations. This is a subtle, but important, difference. Libraries don't actually store your items. They pull from folders that contain your items, and let you access and arrange the items in different ways. For example, if you have music files in folders on your hard drive and on an external drive, you can access all of your music files from the Music library.

You can select a folder and include it to an existing library. Select a folder, for example, zxue, right click on it and move the mouse cursor to Include in library. Choose a library from the list.


You can create a new library by clicking on “Create new library”. The select folder is automatically added to the new library.


To see my other Win8 HowTo blog posts, click here.

If you have a different or better way, share it with us.


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