Every once in a while computer failures occur, because of virus attack, bad disk sector or power failure, and it may result in data loss. Regardless of how it happens, it would be a huge disappointment for you. In order to make sure that your data is safe and sound, it would be a great idea to have the backup files at hand so that you can use it to restore your computer in the event of system crash or data loss. Nowadays, there are a lot of paid and free data backup utilities available out there to choose from, but many of them would break the bank or difficult to setup.
In Windows 10, it has built-in free backup software called File History, introduced in Windows 8, designed to be simple to setup and work on autopilot in the background. Backing up and restoring data using File History works far much better and easier than Windows backup utility, which only allows you to create full system image backup. Talking about File History, it is not ideal for backing up application files or complete PC backup, but it is great for backup and restore personal files and other important stuff, which includes files in your libraries, desktops, contacts, browser bookmarks, etc.
How to access File History & set it up?
In Windows 10, using the search feature you can access File History settings at a drop of a hat.
To store backup data, File History needs an external or secondary drive, which could be an external hard disk, Flash drives, network drives or a secondary hard disk – not just a partition of the primary hard drive. Actually this two-drive concept is a good idea, a hard drive failure won’t destroy both your original & backup data. Windows 10 automatically checks out and let you know the best available drive plugged into your system.
Once you are happy with the target drive you can click the turn on button. From then on file history backs up your files on the continuous basis. If you are using windows 10 in a laptop or smartphone, some of the advanced file history functions will chip in, which includes pausing, resuming backups, when the preferred backup drive is connected/disconnected, etc.
Make use of advanced settings to customize data backups
Using the advanced File history settings, you can always customize backups as the way you want. In there, you’ll find many options that are mostly self-explanatory – lets you create full system image backup, choose backup destination drive, exclude folders you don’t want to be backed up, decide how often you want to save copies of your files, and how long to keep saved versions. You can also add custom folders into your backup schedule, but this is only possible in Metro UI version of File history.
To add more folders, Open System Settings > Update & Security > Backup, and click on More Options on the right-hand pane, which will take you to Backup settings. Now, right from there, you can add as many folders that have to be backed up.
How to restore previous file versions?
Restoring files from the backup is really easy. To restore backup files, just click on ‘Restore Personal Files’ option on file history settings window, which will populate all backed up files versions, grouped by date and time, in a new popup window.
In case, there are several backup & file history items available, populating the window might take up to a minute or above, based upon the size. If the search result is ‘There are no previous versions available’, you are out of luck. If you would like to restore a previous version of existing file or folder, make sure you recover it to another location to prevent accidental overwrite.
To restore files to the different location, use the cogwheel button on the top right of the pop-up window, and select the restore to command.
Cleanup old file versions to save disk space
If you keep backing up file versions using Windows 10 file history, obviously, soon your disk gonna run out of space. So it would be a good idea to clean up old file versions once in a while to save storage space. But don’t ever try to manually remove files manually from the backup drive. Since the list of file-history items is kept in a database, deleting files manually would result in database error, and they will still be showed as recoverable. However, you won’t able to restore those files back, gives an ‘Item Not Found’ error when you tries to recover them. So it’s better to use the ‘Clean up Versions’ option in Advanced File history settings, which helps you safely delete them, based on its age.
File history in Windows 10 is easy to setup, efficient, reliable and probably one of the best free windows backup software you might have seen, which means you can have a lot more confidence while dealing with files, knowing that if you screw them up, you can make use of file history to go back in time and put things right. Since it is designed to work silently in the background, it won’t interrupt your workflow. Of course, File History isn’t for all – I know still some of you would like to stick with third-party backup tools like Acronis True Image and Paragon Backup & Recovery Home that offer more advanced features. However, I recommend you to check out this free data backup utility – maybe it would work better than the backup program you’ve been using. In case you’ve been searching for free data backup solutions, stop searching, you’ve already got one!