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Sunday, April 3, 2016

1690. Backup using Windows File History

I'm using Windows 10, and I need some super-easy way to back up files that I'm working on. I have, in the past, made changes that I wanted to back out of, and a few times, I have even deleted files that I really needed. I'd feel better if all my work was backed up constantly. But I can't remember to do it faithfully. Is there some tool built into Windows to make this easier?
You might say that we're both obsessed with backup tools. We spend far too much time researching, testing, and using various backup tools. Each of us has local, online, and continuous backup working for us, so that there's little chance we'll get stuck losing work that we can't afford to lose. We've saved our lives (our technical lives, of course) several times by having good backups available.
We're both happy with DropBox, a "freemium" service that does provide contemporaneous online backup for your files. DropBox even keeps version history for you, so that you can revert back to previous versions of any file that it has saved for you. The drawback to DropBox is that the free version gets you only 2GB of storage (which may, in fact, be enough to back up your important documents), and it only backs up files in one folder (which can contain multiple subfolders). It works with most operating systems, including Windows and OS X, of course; and it works well. It does require you storing all your documents in your DropBox folder, but if you buy into that philosophy, it can work well for protecting your important files. (
If you're leery of using an offsite/online backup like DropBox, or even if you do use it, you might want to also add a local backup for ease of recovery (and tighter security). Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 provide a great tool, called File History, which can take care of your needs. Once you set up File History and enable the feature, it will back up your files at regular intervals. Then, if you make a change to a file and want to revert to a previous version, you can--from Windows Explorer, simply right-click and choose the option to restore from a previous version. The following link can help get you started with this useful feature:
Note that using Windows File History is simple, but it does require you to have an external hard drive attached to your computer--it won't work unless you do. Of course, USB-attached hard drives are easy to come by, and they're inexpensive. Find an external hard drive, connect it to your computer, and you're all set to use Windows File History. We recommend this new feature highly.

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