Windows 8 has its own Wayback Machine called File History. Here’s how to turn it on and use it so you’ll never lose a version of a file again.
It happens to everybody: you’ve accidentally deleted a file and now can’t find it. Or you’ve made changes to a file, only to realize that it was better before you made the changes. Or maybe you simply want to see a file’s entire version history. Or, worst of all, your hard disk crashed, and you want to recover files.
Windows 8’s File History brings that capability, much like that of Mac OS X’s Time Machine, for the first time to Windows. Windows 7 had a feature similar to it, called Previous Versions. But Previous Versions was hard to find and even harder to use. It was, to be honest, something of a failure.
Not so File History. It’s a great, though not perfect, a feature of Windows 8. There’s a good chance that you don’t know about it, because it’s not enabled by default and there’s no app tile for it, so it’s not that easy to find. But as you’ll see in this hack, once you use it, you’ll be glad you found it.
Before we get hacking, a few words about what File History does and how it works. It backs up whatever it finds in your Libraries, on your Desktop, in Contacts, and in Favorites, and then lets you restore what it’s backed up, including interim versions of your files.
This all means backing up a lot of files, because your Libraries contain, at a minimum, the following folders:
- My Documents
- Public Documents
- My Music
- Public Music
- My Pictures
- Public Pictures
- My Videos
- Public Videos
- SkyDrive (only if you’ve installed the local SkyDrive client and have local SkyDrive folders on your PC)
Tip: As you’ll see later in this hack, there are ways to exclude folders from File History. So if you don’t want to back up, for example, videos because they take up too much space, you can exclude folders that contain your videos.