File History

File History, introduced in Windows 8, gives you a new way to protect your files. It replaces the existing Windows Backup and Restore features, including Shadow Copies of Windows 7. When a specific point in time version of a file or even an entire folder is needed, you can quickly find it and restore it. The restore application has been optimized for browsing, searching, previewing and restoring files. File History only saves copies of files in your libraries, contacts, favorites and desktop. If you have folders elsewhere you want backed up, add them to one of your existing libraries or create a new library.

To start using File History to back up your files, set up a drive on which you will save your files. An external drive or network location is recommended to help protect your files against a crash or internal disk failure. Open the File History control panel applet. Connect an external drive, refresh the page, and then tap or click “Turn on.” File History runs, by default, every hour but it can be set to run as frequently as every 15 minutes. File History checks your libraries, desktop, favorites and contacts for any changes. If it finds changed files, it will automatically copy them to the File History drive.

To restore files using File History, use the restore application by browsing to your personal libraries, folders and files in a manner similar to Windows Explorer and search for specific versions using keywords, file names and date ranges. Then navigate to the desired version by clicking on the Previous/Next buttons or by swiping the screen. Once you’ve found the version for which you’re looking, you can click the Restore button to bring it back. The selected version will be restored to its original location.

File History relies on the NTFS change journal. The NTFS change journal records any changes made to any files stored on an NTFS volume. Instead of scanning the volume, which involves opening and reading directories, File History opens the NTFS change journal and quickly scans it for any changes. Based on this information, it creates a list of files that have changed and need to be copied. The process is quick and efficient.

Finally, File History was designed to be easily interrupted and quick to resume. This way, File History can resume its operation without needing to start over when a system goes into sleep mode, a user logs off or if the system gets too busy and needs more CPU cycles to complete foreground operations.

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