I’m running Windows 10, and need some super-easy way to back up files that I’m working on. I’d love to have a way to restore files if I delete them inadvertently (I’ve done this, of course), and I’d feel better if all my work was backed up. But I can’t remember to do it faithfully. Is there some tool built into Windows to make this easier?
You’re in luck! Starting with Windows 8, the File History feature makes backing up as simple as possible. All you need to do is attach an external drive for the backup, and then enable the feature. To enable it, open the Settings app, and then navigate to Update & Security, and then Backup. Click the Add a Drive button, and select your external drive as the destination for your backups (the feature won’t work without an external drive, however).
You can select More options how long File History keeps your backups, which files it backs up, and how often it performs a backup. By default, File History backs up every hour, but you can change that interval. Normally, File History keeps your backups forever, but you can also indicate that they should be deleted after a specific period of time; you can also have File History clear out old backups to make room for new ones.
You’ll definitely want to review which folders File History backs up. By default, it backs up all your documents, assuming that you store your documents in the Documents folder; it also backs up your Desktop, Downloads, Music, and Videos folders. Select Add a Folder to add more folders—you can also use this option to remove folders that File History backs up by default. You’ll find more advanced options, as well, and these may be useful for you.
A backup isn’t helpful if you can’t restore your files, and of course, File History supports this functionality. In the Settings app, select Update & security, More options, and then select Restore files from a current backup. This option allows you to select specific files to restore.
One of our favorite features is the ability to restore previous versions of files right from within File Explorer: Simply right-click on a file, and select Restore Previous Versions. This can be useful if, for example, you are working on a document and you realize that you really preferred the version from the previous day: Select Restore Previous Versions, and if you backed up the file, you’ll be able to select a previous version to restore.
This simple solution is an excellent feature in Windows 8 and Windows 10, but remember, it’s only part of a well-balanced backup strategy. We recommend three backups of everything you don’t want to lose. Our plan: Full image copy of your hard drive, using a tool like Macrium Reflect Free (http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx), an off-site backup using a tool like Crashplan (https://www.code42.com/crashplan/) or Carbonite (http://www.carbonite.com), and a local backup using a tool like Windows’ File History. For more information on File History, start with this article: http://goo.gl/1Da31Z.