How to Use The Windows 8 File History System?

Microsoft brings the file history concept closer to the users' view by implementing this feature right into the main panel of Windows 8. Previously, a Windows owner could only maintain and restore backups using the default system, which wasn't of much help. Additionally, you could bring the computer to previous states by erasing everything in a given timeline, whenever the PC had serious troubles.

In Windows 8, developers have implemented a file history backup feature which is comparable with existing 3rd party application of similar purpose. Above all things, Microsoft built a system that is easy to use and straight-forward. It may prove to be a good enough reason for many of us to drop any other back-up applications in favour of this built-in program.

How to start saving files through File History?

First of all, Windows 8's File History can be accessed from the Metro Control panel, by scrolling down and clicking on "More Settings". By default, Windows 8 only allows to save backups on external hard drivers or remote network locations. The files that are going to be included in these saves are the ones found in Libraries - location that has the following folders: Music, Documents, Videos, Pictures, Desktop, Contacts and Favourites.

To start this feature, simply click the "Turn ON" button and select the desired location, right after you've plugged in an external source. This source is automatically detected and can be changed as and when the user wants to, a move that makes Windows 8 automatically move all the saved files into the new location. The backup will begin instantly.

From the Advanced Settings panel, you can tweak details like the duration of kept files and how often should Windows 8 run backups. Also in here, you can choose to backup files found on other PCs connected on the HomeGroup network.

How to restore a File through File History?

To restore any saved files simply plug in the external drive and press the "Restore personal files" option, located at the bottom of the navigation bar. A window containing all saved folders will appear, from which you will have to select those that need to be restored. Once selected, you can click the Restore button, found at the middle of the bar, to confirm the action. All these files will be moved on top of existing ones.

If you want to restore these folders to another location, click on the Settings icon and choose Restore to, like in the image below. Then, you will have to browse to a folder where these files are going to be copied.

Those looking for a more file-based approach can manually select individual files using the Ribbons interface. Under the Open section, you will find the History menu, which will guide you through the rest of the process.

Don't have an external hard drive? No problem.

As we said, Windows 8 does not allow local drives to be used as backup locations by default. To bypass this rule, right click on the drive you want to use, go to the Proprieties window and then click on the Sharing tab. Now click on Advanced Sharing and make this drive sharable under the "backup" name, with full permissions for everyone.

All you have to do now is copy the drive network path from the shared locations menu and add it in the Change Drive backup list.