How To Work With File History In Windows 10, From The Settings App

In Windows 10, Microsoft has tried to improve the way you control system settings by introducing a redesigned, touch optimized, Settings app. The new Settings app seems to have an increasingly more important role in basic computer configuration and tweaking. One of its interesting improvements is related to the way you can backup data with File History.The new Backup area of the Settings app offers a better way of personalizing your experience with File History, that bypasses the need to use the legacy Control Panel. In this tutorial, we will try to show you how to use the Settings app to control the way File History works.

Where To Find File History In The Settings App

Before you can modify any settings of File History, you will need to plug in an external hard drive or a large USB memory stick with lots of free space on it, which will be used for your backups. Then, you have to open the Settings app. If you have any problems in finding or opening this application, read this guide: Introducing Windows 10: 6 ways to open Settings.

In the newly opened window, you will have to click or tap on the section labeled Update & security.

In the Update & security window, you will find six subsections in the left-side column and you have to click or tap on Backup.

Microsoft has changed the options available in this subsection throughout the Windows 10 builds but now it seems that it has settled on a simplified touch enabled design. In the main Backup area you will be able to turn File History On or Off. So, if you have already plugged in an external drive, File Historywill automatically backup all your libraries (both default libraries and custom libraries you created), the Desktop, your Contacts, Edge favorites and, finally, OneDrive.

This area sees the return of a tool that disappeared in Windows 8/8.1, the old Backup and Restore feature from Windows 7. This reappearance seems to be related to Microsoft's attempt to attract legacy users to Windows 10, with a tool that will allow you to restore any Windows 7 backups to your Windows 10 computer. It will also allow you to backup files from your Windows 10 computer or device in the same way you used to backup in Windows 7. Still, any attempt to set up or customize this tool will send you to Control Panel, so, we will continue the discussion about how to use the Backup & Restore feature of Windows 10 in a future article.

Finally, in the center of the right-side column, you will find the More options button, that will send you to a separate menu where you can set up and modify advanced settings of File History. This is the great change of Windows 10 Settings app, as opposed to PC Settings from Windows 8.1, because it allows you to modify how File History works without needing to use the Control Panel.

How To Use The Settings App To Configure The Way File History Works

As we have already stated, if you need to change the default settings of File History, you no longer need to go to the Control Panel. It is now possible to do this from the Settings app. You have to go to the Backup subsection, as mentioned above, and then click or tap on the More options button. This action will take you to the Backup Options window, where many of the advanced settings of File History are gathered in single unified list.

The first section of the Backup Options list, that is labeled Overview, will show you general details about your backups and your backup drive. Here, it is also possible to choose how often you want File History to create backup copies. The default setting is Every hour, but you can either shorten the period between backups to a limit of Every 10 minutes or increase it to a maximum limit of one per day.

Another important setting, that can be found in the Overview section, will allow you to choose how long File History keeps each of the backups. Evidently, the default option is Forever, but you can select a shorter period of time in other to not run out of space on your backup drive.

The next section, called Back up these folders, will show you all the libraries and folders that are currently being backed up. Still, this is the section that will offer you a big surprise. After File History made its appearance in Windows 8, many of your complaints seemed to be directed at the same major problem, the inability to add specific folders to the backup. Well, it seems that Windows 10 has changed this situation and it will now allow you to easily add folders that are not connected to the your libraries. Also, you should remember that you can only do this from the Settings app and that you will not find this option in the Control Panel.

To start backing up a specific folder with File History all you need to do is click or tap on the Add a folder button from the top of the Back up these folders section.

In the newly opened window, choose the folder you want to back up and then press the Choose this folder button. And that is it, you have just added a folder that is not related to your default or custom libraries. It seems that Microsoft finally understood the need for this option.

Of course, in the Backup Options, you also have the possibility to exclude specific libraries and folders from the backup. To do this, simply press the Add a folder button from the Exclude these folders section.

Then, select the item(s) you want to remove from the backup and click or tap on Choose this folder.

Finally, you can change the drive used for your backups, but this is a two stage process. First, you need to stop using your current backup drive by pressing the Stop using drive button from the Back up to a different drive section of the Backup Options.

The second step requires you to go back to the main Backup window and press the Add a drive button. This will show you a small drop down menu, where you can select a different drive by clicking or tapping on it.


Our experience of working with File History using the Windows 10 Settings app has proved to be easy to use and quite intuitive. The Settings app offers access to a lot more advanced features and customization options for File History and bypasses the need to use the traditional Control Panel. Also, the Settings app is the only place you can add specific folders to be backed up by File History.

Before you close this article, please tell us if you have used File History in Windows 10 and what do you think about it.