How to Use File History to Backup Personal Files and Restore Previous Versions of Files in Windows 10.

Last updated on April 24th, 2019

This tutorial contains step by step instructions on how to backup and restore your personal files with 'File History' in Windows 10, and how to restore the previous versions of your files/folders from the File History backup, by using the 'Restore Previous Versions' feature in Windows Explorer.

The 'File History' is a built-in backup tool in Windows 10 & 8/8.1 versions that continually protects your files by creating incremental backups of them on another storage device (e.g. a secondary internal hard drive, an external USB drive or on a network location).

Additionally, with File History, you can restore the previous versions of files, because in Windows 10 the "Restore Previous Versions" feature does not work as in Windows 7. In fact, in Windows 10, the 'Restore previous version' feature "looks" in the 'File History' or in the 'Windows Backup' to find the previous versions of files/folders and not in the System Restore points as in Windows 7. In other words, if you want to perform a selective restore of a file/folder, by using the "Restore previous versions" feature in Windows 10, you must have enabled the 'File History' or the 'Windows backup'. *

* Notes:
1. If the 'System Protection' is enabled on your PC and you want to restore the previous version of an individual file (or folder) from a previously system restore point, then read the instructions at this article: FIX: Restore Previous Versions Not Working in Windows 10.

2. If you want to include in the backup a System Image, in order to restore your computer if it is stops working, then use the Windows Backup feature. Detailed instructions on how to do that, can be found in this article: How to use Windows Backup to Backup & Restore your Personal Files.

How to Backup & Restore Files with File History in Windows 10.

Part 1. How to Backup your Personal Data with File History.
Part 2. How to Restore your Personal Files & Previous Versions of Files from File History.

Part 1. How to backup your personal files with File History.

To turn on File History and backup your personal data in Windows 10:

1. Click Start image and go to Settings -> Update & Security.

How to Use File History to Backup Personal Files in Windows 10

2. Click Backup on the left and then click Add a drive. *

* TIP: If you don't have a secondary hard drive (internal or USB) and you have enough free storage space on main hard drive C:\, then you can shrink the storage size of the drive C:\, in order to create a secondary partition (on your main hard drive) and to use that partition (drive) for backup.

Add a drive - file history

3. Choose the drive that you want to be the backup destination, from the list of the available drives.

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4. Click More Options to configure the backup options.

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5. At the 'Backup options', proceed and review all the backup settings (e.g. backup schedule, folders to backup, etc.) and when done, click the Back up now button to take your first backup. More specifically:

a. Set how often you want the backup to be taken and how long the backup will be kept.

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b. At Back up these folders section review all the folders that you want to backup. *

* Notes:
1. By default File History only backs up the files that are in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders. If you have a folder elsewhere that you want backed up, then click the Add a folder button to add the folder.
2. Bellow is a list of folders (in bold letters) that contains important personal data to include in the backup (if you want):

  • To backup the Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 data, include this folder in the backup:*
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst

* In Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016 & 2019 versions, the Outlook .PST data file, is already included in the backup, because – by default – its stored in the 'Documents' folder:

    • C:\Users\<your username>\Documents\Outlook Files\<YourEmailAddress>.pst
  • To backup the Thunderbird data, include this folder:
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\<Profile name>
  • To backup the Firefox data, include this folder:
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<profilename>.default
  • To backup the Chrome data, include this folder:
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User\Data\Default

backup personal data file history

c. If you want exclude a folder from the backup, select that folder and click Remove.

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6. After reviewing all the backup settings, click the Backup up now button, on the top of this page, to take your first backup.

Additional Backup options in File History:

  • Stop using this drive: Click this button, if you want to stop the backup or to use a different drive for backup. *

* Note: If you want to use another drive, then after stopping the current drive, perform the same steps to add the new drive for the backup.

  • Advanced Settings: Click this button, if you want to view and manage the File History status and settings in control panel.
  • Restore files from a current backup: Click this button, If you want to restore your files to a previous version by using the File History. (see below)

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Part 2. How to Restore your Files or Previous Versions of Files from File History in Windows 10.

1. To restore your files from the backup, use one of the following ways: *

A. Go to Start image -> Settings -> Update & Security -> Backup -> More Options and click the Restore files from a current backup button. (see screenshot above).

B. Navigate to Control Panel -> File History -> Restore your files from file history.

How to restore files with File History in Windows 10

* Note: If you want to restore an individual files or folder, then:

a. Right click on the file or folder that you want to restore to its previous versions and select Restore previous versions.

Restore Previous Versions of Files from File History

b. Highlight the Backup version (date) and then choose Open in File History.

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2. Use the arrow keys image to view all the available backups, and when you find the folder or the file that you want to restore, highlight it and press the Green Restore button.

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3. At the next screen you can select to Replace the file in the destination, but at my opinion is better to save the restored files at another destination until you ensure that you have restored the correct version of the backup.

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That's it! Let me know if this guide has helped you by leaving your comment about your experience. Please like and share this guide to help others.

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