Have you ever edited a spreadsheet or document and saved over the original by accident? I have. Have you ever emptied your Recycle Bin then realized later that you deleted the wrong photo folder the day before? Sure did.
Good news! There is a way to help prevent this and best of all....It's built into Windows 8 and Windows 10. (also into Windows 7, but named and placed in a different location) Also it's FREE!
Bad News? It's disabled by default. But we are here to show you how it works, how to enable it, and how to customize it.
It's called File History... Let's dig in!
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Wanna skip this and watch the video? Here it is!
"All you need is a thumb drive or external drive"
What will I need?
Since the software and settings to get you fully protected are already
built into Windows, all you'll need to purchase is either a Thumb Drive (aka Flash Drive), or an External Hard Drive. Both are relatively cheap and most folks already have one hanging around. If not, you can grab one at Office Depot or even Wal-Mart. The size is up to you and depends on how much data you are backing up. You must consider how much music and videos you want to keep copies of when purchasing your drive. I would suggest that if you store lots of videos and music, you go with the External Hard drive option. If you are mainly Documents an Spreadsheets based, then the Thumb Drive will be good for you.
"Once in Control Panel, look for the File History"
Where do I start?
Now that you have your destination drive (required for Windows 10 File History), lets get the feature enabled and configured.
The File History setting is enabled in the Control Panel. You may have a shortcut to it on your desktop. If not, you can get to this by pushing the START button and typing "control panel". This will begin listing all applications on your PC that contains this phrase. It's worth mentioning here that you can use this to search for any program or setting on your computer. Once in Control Panel, look for the FILE HISTORY icon and click it. If you don't see it, you may have to show all Control Panel icons by clicking the VIEW BY: drop down and selecting LARGE ICONS.
I'm there, now what?
Now that we are in, the first thing to do is plug in your Storage Device. Give it
a couple seconds to recognize and install. Once it has, you will see it pop up in the "available drives" area. Click TURN ON. It will begin making your initial backup of everything in your USERS Folder. This includes Documents, Libraries, Favorites, Contacts, and Desktop. We will tel you how to customize these folders in a moment.
"how many versions you keep is based on time,
but there are additional settings"
Any Customization here?
I'm glad you asked! Click Advanced Settings on the left. Here is where you get to decide how often you want this backup to take place. Most folks do this about 2 or 3 times a day, depending on how often you are altering files or folders. Next in line is how many versions of these files to keep. Its based on age but there is a single option for Until I run out of space on the drive. This will depend on if you plan on using the Storage Drive for anything other than this feature. These are all of the settings offered in the Control Panel portion of the feature and is plenty for the average user.
For more control and to add additional folders to your File History, use the SETTINGS app by pressing Start > Settings > Updates and Security > Backup. Once in there you can click the More Options link. This will open a new window allowing you to add or remove folders from your file history backup.
Great, now how do I use it?
So you've change a Word Document and saved over the good one, or you've deleted a folder and emptied your recycle bin out of habit. Not the end of the world...anymore.
To restore previous versions of your files, simply go to the file or folder you want to recover, and Right Click it. You will see Restore Previous Versions as one of your selection options. Click it and you will be presented with a new window showing a historical list of you backed up versions of the file or folder. The list will show you the files and when they were saved. Pick the one you want and preview it to be sure it has the contents you are looking for. You can either restore it to its original location, or save it where ever you want.
"not all backup solutions have to be
complicated and cost a fortune"
Is it really worth it?
If you haven't heard of Ransom-ware yet, please visit our other post or do a tiny bit of reading online. It wont take much research for you to understand what it is and how important it is to be prepared for it. Everyone makes mistakes and saves over files or deleted the wrong folder. Not all backup solutions have to cost money or a great deal of effort. Its worth mentioning that there are great services out there like Carbonite that keep these backups offsite and safe from local failures or accidents.
The ability to go back in time with files has been the savior of many people at home and in small business. Take the time and set it up with these easy instructions and you'll be very glad you did when, not IF, the time comes to need it.
Here is a video that may help if you like that type of thing over reading!