How to Use File History on Windows 8

How to Use File History on Windows 8

Backups are among the most important thing in IT.  I’ve had some classics. Six hours into a job, I hadn’t even touched the servers yet, when the entire network crashed - no backups!

And it’s just as important at home too:

Bernard (a friend): “Gary, wipe my computer and re-install Windows, I’ve backed it up”

Bernard (a few weeks later): “Errr, Gary did you back anything up? Like wedding photos?”

Me: “No, you said you did one.”  

His wife hasn’t spoken to me for six years.  No backups = awkward moments.

Probably, because none of us do it enough. The fact is it’s all OK until disaster happens - look at Titanic, more lifeboats would have saved lives, and saved us all from Celine Dion.

File History’New to Windows 8 - provides set-and-forget file backup. It automatically manages the files saved in your Library.  

Let’s have a look and set it up:

Backup: How to Save the Wedding Photos Forever

This is a screenshot of our wedding photos, and the computer’s current Library structure.  One thing to remember - you can create your own Libraries, which in turn can be added to File History. 

Fig.1. Library and Wedding Photos                                                                                 


File History also backs up your Favorites, Desktop, Contacts and even works if Bitlocker is in play. 

You need to start in the Control Panel. Do this by pressing Windows Key  + C for the Charm Bar. Or it’s probably easier to hover your cursor bottom-left of the desktop, right-click on the mini start screen and click CONTROL PANEL.

Fig.2. Control Panel > System Security > File History

Navigate toSystem Security > File History >

Select Drive

Personally, I recommend that you purchase a Home Use NAS Device, with some RAID function, and save to this.  Otherwise, you’re left with a USB hard disk drive (HDD) which you’ll lose at some point. 

If you use a USB HDD, the drive should be detected here, and you just Turn on File History.  I’m going through the Home Use NAS Device solution which adds a few steps in. 

Note: Here you can Exclude Folders, which explains itself really. And Advanced Settings, where you can tweak the copy replication interval, cache and how long you want to keep the files for.

  Fig.3. Selecting a Network Drive Path  

Fig.4. Drive Path Selected     


This is really as hard as setting up File History gets. 

As previously mentioned, if I just attached a USB HDD I would simply click Turn on in Fig.5. At this point just have a bit of patience, as your selected data is copied to the external location for the first time.

Fig.5.File History Turned On


I’ll leave Advanced Settings for you to explore - basically  I’ve changed my defaults to replication every 15 minutes, and to keep saved versions forever.

Like the wedding, I’m forever paying for it!

Gary FildesGary FildesGary Fildes has 10+ years experience in the IT Industry and is an MCT Technical Trainer and Lead Instructor for Windows 8 Training at Firebrand.