75 Comments to Working with File History from the Control Panel: What you can and can't do!

  1. Adrian says:

    Thanks for this tutorial. I did not know about this tool.

  2. Don Thomander says:

    Thanks for the info provided . It has helped me out greatly. I have a Dell computer with windows 8.1 and at 72 yrs.of age it is taking a while to get used to. I had trouble understanding data backup but your info was great. One question with File History do I leave my external hard drive plugged in all the time. By your info I’m thinking YES. DGT.

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      I’m happy were able to help you. Don’t hesitate to pay us a visit from time to time. I’m sure you will find other useful content on our website.

    • Val says:

      Trying the use File History but running into some trouble. Bought a Western Digital 1 TB external drive… Set up two partitions,.. One to back up OS and the other to do File History. The OS backed up fine but when I try to do the File History I get the message “File History doesn’t recognize this drive”. I tried making it NTFS and exFAT but still no luck. Can you help?

  3. Tom Williams says:

    I have multiple users on the PC. Do I need to run it for each user?
    If I delete a file from My Docs (for example) does it also get deleted from file history on it’s next cycle?

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      Yes, you need to set it up individually, for each user account.

      Whatever you do gets replicated in your File History backup location. However, File History can be customized to keep older files for a certain amount of time and you can use it to recover files you have deleted.

  4. nigel says:

    that is the most dumbest thing. why take out the ability to choose what files to backup. maybe i don’t want to backup everything because i don’t have enough space.

  5. Harv says:

    It does not seem to matter how I specify when to back up… 30 minutes, 2 hours, Daily… It never runs. I must “Run now” in order to have it perform a backup.

  6. Simon Cartwright says:

    Any ideas why it would choose to only selectively backup certain folders/files? I haven’t excluded anything, just seems to do its own thing.

    When I look at the back up folder on my external wifi HDD, only some of the folders are there. Annoying!

    Incidentally, I mainly back up RAW image files at 25+ mb, if that makes any difference.

    • chilo says:

      other folders can be selected to backup…use file explorer and select directory.. then look for HISTORY in the OPEN column .. select history.. you should be able to figure rest out

    • DomiChi says:

      I had a same probleme. File history save only 2 folders from 10 in my Documents bibliothèque

  7. Mike says:

    This is a great facility spoiled by toatally dumb thinking. When I can’t choose the files & folders I really want to back up, then it is about as useful as the proverbial one legged man in an ass kicking contest!!!

  8. Andy P says:

    Further to Simon Cartwright’s post, i am experiencing the same problem with file history not backing up all the files/folders contained within one of its default locations. They have not been excluded from the backup. The USB stick has enough capacity, but file history is only using 1Gb of the 16Gb available. What is the reason for this? Can i make it work properly?

    • Banks Technology Services says:

      Check the Advanced Settings in File History. You can define how much space your File History backups will use. I think the default is 10%.

  9. Mike Abbott says:

    every time file history backs up it creates a new copy of existing file. is there a way to overwrite file instead of creating another?.

  10. mikebass says:

    my backup drive is off I did not turn it off and I cant turn it on…. can anyone help please

  11. Andrew McRoberts says:

    Does file history back up my emails?

  12. Hans Peter says:

    If I have unplugged my backupdrive of any case I am wondering what happens with the data which I change when my drive is unplugged? Have I lost these changes when i start the drive again or does filehistory save them on my internal HD meanwhile or does filhistory check if there has any changings being made??
    /hans peter

    • Banks Technology Services says:

      Hi Hans Peter,
      You can unplug your external drive and make changes to your files. When you plug your drive back in, File History will sync those changes. File History will always sync the latest “version” of the file. Hope this helps!

  13. Billy Carter says:

    8 & 8.1 are a disaster, trying to back up info so I can delete window 8.1 and reload 7. I will not create a new folder to put all my files in that I want backed up. what is the purpose of backing up to begin with. This is useless…

  14. rashmi says:

    I purchased new Dell with windows 8.1. Do I need to have backup of windows 8.1 before doing my work? for my earlier version (windows 7) I didnot have backup. please suggest.

  15. Dean Judd says:

    Can you use the task scheduler to schedule a file history backup in windows 8.1? If so, what I the file name of the file history utility?

  16. john says:

    Not happy that you can’t spec other folders to backup, nor that you can’t tell it how many past versions or a time interval to retain.

  17. Ann Di Marco says:

    I have just started to use this but what about the files that I created on my PC before starting to use? Are they also backed up? I don’t know how to do a complete C drive backup before I start anyway, can anyone help, if this is necessary first please

  18. JPD says:

    I would like to use 2 external harddrives alternatively to insure everything is backed up on Windows 8.1. I turned on File History and backed up everything to a WD External Harddrive. I am now out of space and rather than delete files, I prefer to just use a flash drive (64GB) change the device in File History settings from WD External to the flash drive a save everything again. My presumption is I will have the latest records and a complete file for restoration if needed. When the flash drive is full, I would then use the WD External Harddrive, change the settings and repeat the process. Is there any problem with this approach vs deleting old files to make room on the external devices?

  19. Ken says:

    let me get this straight “example file history continues to make copies of my pictures thus filling up my external hard drive” so you recommend only saving my files for 3 months therefore I will only delete the extra copies? So uncheck keep forever

  20. R Srivastava says:

    In my external hard disk I have in F:>FileHistory>(my user name) two folders MY-PC dated 15/11/2014, and MY-PC (2) dated 16/11/2014. My question is “Can I delete folder MY-PC and if I delete it:
    1. Will it create any problem?
    2. After deleting MY-PC, only MY-PC (2) will remain. Will that be alright OR I have to rename it to MY-PC

  21. Eddie Mann says:

    I have tried to do a back up using a Dyna Store 32GB USB. My PC tells me it cannot recognise this drive. I tried another smaller drive and there is no problem with this but I run out of space. Can you suggest why the PC will not recognise the drive?

  22. Monica Tett says:

    My Dell desktop has “died” . System restore etc failed. 3 beeps then 4 beeps and now won’t boot. 6 years old. Have backed up to external drive. I need to buy new tower but they are running Windows 8.1 and I have Windows 7. Will I have any trouble setting up new tower from back up please? And will files transfer ok? I have huge Family Tree file I would hate to lose. Old lady needs simple advice please!!!!!!

  23. Emaan Ahmed says:

    Can you create a file history backup without using hardware? I would like to create on my own drive without any other external hardware.

  24. riksen says:

    It cannot find my external harddisk which is a new WD Elements. How do I get it to recognize it?

  25. D. Dawg says:

    Don’t like it. With NTBackup I could tell it what to backup including external drives, network drives etc. I could also tell it when to backup. It appears file history won’t allow either of those options. Can I use NTBackup with 8.1?

  26. Edd says:

    Please Help !!!

    I was backing up my w8.1 in my 4tb hard disk which I have all my life in there and it was taking so long …. So I decided to stop it and suddenly the machine stop working. I was waiting for 5 minutes and I decided to take the risk for restarting the machine now after one hour the pc boots directly to the bios many several times…

    Please what should I do if I lost my OS and my 4tb disk you think that will be ok?

    Thanks for your help in advance…. !!!

  27. Stan Weidenhammer says:

    When I clicked turn on for the first time, the program started to backup to my external hard drive. I set the program to backup every 15 min. Then on my desktop I added a new folder. I waited quite a while then checked my hard drive to see the new folder. It was not on the backup. What am I doing wrong.

  28. saifullah says:

    hi sir i have a problem i dont know how to solve it . my question is my backup has been deleted from my latop it was an original backup of windows 8.1 so can i recover it . or not ? and what if the backup isn`t recover . ? 2nd question is can i get an original copy from another latop ? where the windows is also 8.1? i will be waiting for your answer .reply me ASAP.

  29. Veeru says:

    Hi. I want to do a windows image backup to an external hard drive which has some personnel data of mine. If i back up windows to that external hard drive, do i lose my personnel data? I mean will my external hard drive formatted before backing up system image?

    Thanks in advance.

  30. Stefan says:

    I’ve got two users on one Laptop. I had to enable File History for both (I found that weird). Worse, it seems that it syncs now the “public” folders twice!!!
    Why is this indentend?


  31. Paul says:

    All the files I want to save are in folders on the C drive. I cannot figure out how you back up folders on here. The system intentionally excludes them! Who designed this system?

  32. Dave says:

    Hi, I have a query, is there anyway for you to change the default files which file history backs up. I have a set up were I have all personal files on a separate HDD to that of my OS so can’t back them up through file history. Can’t set up a raid none of my HDD’s are the same. thanks in advance

  33. John Mertz says:

    What a piece of s***. Not being able to backup a particular directory/folder – EASILY – is crap. Thank You Microsoft – again.

  34. Mike says:

    Hi. Will file back up back up my downloads as well as I wish this to happen.

  35. Ryan says:

    Is it not possible to see that program to backup to OneDrive?

  36. Alastair says:

    ‘Awesome’ is not a word I would use to describe this backup function. After using Apple’s system, this is really pretty dire. I can’t choose what to back up, I don’t seem to be able to back up files on an external drive and, actually, I’m not even sure what has been backed up. It needs a complete rethink.

    • A.C. Ratone says:

      It will do an external drive. To select which, you have to exit ‘Advanced Settings’ and go back to File History. There all connected drives will be shown and you choose which. It will immediately start backing up, so click TURN OFF. And then make all your changes to the settings and move your folder tree under the Library, exclude all you don’t want backed up. And click TURN ON. All folders you need backed up have to be moved with File Explorer to become subfolders of the Library folder. So whenever you are in an application (OFFICE, INTERNET EXPLORER, etc.) andSAVE something it has to be to library subfolders.
      I believe (not sure) Google Chrome allows their bookmark folder to be moved. If so, it can be put under the Library folder, and then it would be backed up.

      Microsoft long ago imagined that everyone would keep all their data into their library. Almost nobody does.

      • A.C. Ratone says:

        Yes, Google Chrome allows you to choose where to store your bookmarks. Here is a link to show how:

        In case this link is now broken, open Bookmark Manager in Chrome, and then click: Organize>Export bookmarks to HTML file. From there create and then select a subdirectory of Libraries. Now Windows 8.1 file history will back up Chrome bookmarks.

        • A.C. Ratone says:

          But this process must be repeated in Chrome for each backup you do, it will not be automatic. Internet Explorer Favorites will be automatically stored in Libraries, and thus stored automatically.

  37. Eric says:

    What’s the motivation for Microsoft to not allow you to pick what is backed up?

  38. John says:

    It uses the Library concept. The back up tool backs up Libraries. To add a folder to a library, right click on the folder and then “Include In Library” and then select an existing library (e.g. “Documents”) or create a new library (e.g. “Johns Extra Stuff”).

  39. Gerjon says:

    Microsoft is taking the “tech” out of windows, dumbing it down for the general public – this is why linux is being used more and more by technology industries as you can still get it to do what YOU want. Backups are a simple thing to do, system recovery is different, both should be customizable to the users needs – one size here does NOT fit all.

  40. Paula Hunts says:

    Can I use two separate disks alternating for File History?

  41. pam slade says:

    My backing-up zipped through over 20 frames today, at speed. Much of the data seemed to be duplicated. Is there anything wrong with this? Its normally over in about 20secs

  42. Mark Peterson says:

    Does File History save copies of files at the specified interval only when there are changes or added or deleted files, or always at the specified interval even if there are no changes or added or deleted files?

  43. Daniel says:

    I don’t know why you guys say that File History is awesome because it’s not! You can’t change what folders to back-up! What genius thought this was a good idea? I don’t know what the guys at Microsoft are smoking…

  44. Eric S. says:

    If I set “Set Saved Versions” to three months, do ALL files older than three months get erased or just multiple version (older than three months) of a document get erase?

  45. Steve Suykens says:

    Just a quick question: if you set “Keep Saved Versions” = 3 Months, then will it only remove the previous versions that were created prior to 3 months ago? Or more specifically, will the backup keep the most current version of the file even if it has not been modified in the last 3 months? Important question.

  46. Fred Nerk says:

    Microsoft has finally woken up to the Mac’s longstanding Time Machine then. They get there in the end . . .

  47. Ron P. says:

    Hello Ciprian, or others,
    I’m a Dell,Wd8.1 user. Q#1: Is there any difference in using the DellBackup & Recovery app on the desktop, or going to the History Backup through the Control panel? Q#2: Is there some explanation of the Wd8.1 Filing structure? It seems redundant X 3.
    Thanks to whomever can answer.

  48. David says:

    I ran File History and then did a restore. On the restore it brought in MANY files with a huge expansion of the file name. This creates a huge problem with file names being too long when you have a large file structure with depth. What are all the extra characters for and how can I prevent them in the future?

    example: File named “2013 Data Center Trends.pdf” came back in as “2013 Data Center Trends (2015_02_10 23_28_09 UTC).pdf

  49. Wendy says:

    I do not understand how the “Keep saved versions” works. If I have a Word document called Tutorial and I choose 3 months. Does it mean that after 3 months, this Tutorial document will disappear from my backup drive? I have no set time to run File History but do it at least 2-3 times a month. If this document is still in my computer, will the new run of File History put it back in the backup drive?

  50. notinterested says:

    this is stupid…i miss my windows 7..we don’t have a large usb on hand not everyone does…i need to backup my computer but i have to use this crap now???!!! f this

  51. helen says:

    Just connected a seagate external drive and did a file history. It stored all my docs but only 5 of the picture folders how can I save the rest?

  52. Joolz says:

    When I go to “Add folder” in file history backup, I get error code 0x80070032. All internet searches for this error code only produce results for other issues and not windows 10 file history feature. I’m backing up to a network drive and it is fully accessible and useable. It successfully backs up all the default folders to it OK it just fails to add an extra specific folder.
    Also why have microsoft made file backup so complicated? If you access file history through control panel it has different features to if you access it through start menu/settings/update & security/backup. At the same time in control panel there is “Backup and restore (windows 7)” which gives you different backup options such as system image backup. Why can’t they just group all these together into one simple backup feature and give us all the options there?

  53. Nata says:

    Hi there, thanks a lot for this article. What happens if my computer is infected with a virus? Will my backup be infected as well? If I delete the file on my computer, will it be deleted from the backup too?


  54. fatima says:

    i mistakenly disconnected device during backup., its not backing up my furthur data

  55. saad says:

    Will my external hard drive formated when i make first time back up data?
    i have alot of data on that external drive.

  56. alan says:

    I have been using File History to back up my files, but the it doesn’t use any space on my backup drive. I still have the same amount of space available as before I started using it.

  57. PAPAT says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Finally, someone who gives clear, simple, easy to follow directions.

  58. Pine Sap says:

    Would you please explain the File History Configurations and Data folders? My Configuration folder currently contains Catalog1.edb, Catalog2.edb, Config1.xml, Config2.xml, etc. My Data folder now contains $0F, C, D folders. What are the purposes of these folders, how are they organized?

  59. Dean says:

    I just wanted to know if file history can work for any file and folder which includes even media. Also how exactly do you know when to unplug your harddrive, once your done backing up. I tried file history but wasn’t exactly sure if it was working or not.

  60. Hans says:

    I would enjoy the file version history, if I was able to know how to clean up old versions of the history and merge multiple instances.

  61. paigedendekker@gmail.com says:

    I don’t know how to un plug the back up drive, please,,help

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