Enable File History Backups Windows 10

Many people do not have any kind of automatic backup enabled and instead rely on manual backups of their data. While manually backing up files is better than having no backup. Setting an automatic backup means you wont forget to do a backup.

Because an automatic backup is always online it does come with its own problems. If the device is infected with malware, this could spread to the backup drive. This is why it is important to have multiple backups using the 3-2-1 rule.

This 3-2-1 rule is as follows:

  • 3 copies of a file
  • 2 backups on different types of medium. i.e. on an external hard drive and a NAS
  • 1 offsite copy. i.e. in the cloud, or an external hard drive stored away from your home.

Today I will be concentrating on one type of backup. That is the built-in utility included with Windows 10 called File History.

To enable File History we need an external hard drive (a secondary internal hard drive can also be used).

File History’s default settings will save files every hour and keep versions forever – as in, files wont be removed after a set period of time. This may need to be modified to suit your needs and the amount of data stored on your device.

To configure File History first plug in an External Hard Drive. You should receive some kind of notification that a drive has been inserted. Take note of the drive name and letter. i.e. TOSHIBA EXT (F:)

Press Windows Key + i to bring up the Windows Settings App. In the search box type backup and then click on Backup settings.

Click Add a drive and then select the hard drive to which you wish to backup files.

Click on Back-up options and click Back up now

On the Back-up options screen you are able to add additional folders to be backed up up, i.e. If you have a folder outside your User Directory.

Scrolling further down the screen you are also able to add folders you wish to excluded from the backup. This is handy if you have folders containing large amounts of data and need to split your File History backups over multiple drives.

This is just one way you can backup your data. While this will help protect against data loss from a deleted file or failed hard drive, it wont help protect against ransomware. To protect against malware it is recommended to also have an offline backup.

For other ways to protect yourself online and your data, check out our tech tips articles.