Published February 2018
Windows 10 has a built-in backup system called File History. It keeps a copy of your documents, photos and other data so they’re not lost if your computer fails. It also keeps historic versions of files that you edit or delete, so you can change your mind or recover from mistakes, even months later. All you need is a flash drive (memory stick) or external hard drive with sufficient capacity.
Note: As standard, backups include the Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos folders. Unless you’ve gone out of your way to do otherwise, or you use certain specialist applications, all your important data should be in these folders. If you’re not sure, ask me for help.
Attach a flash drive or external hard drive to your computer, then do the following:
Notice that the toggle switch gets set to ‘on’, meaning your files will be automatically backed up on an hourly schedule.
The first backup may take hours to complete. To check its progress, click More options. Subsequent backups will take less time because they only need to copy those files that have changed.
Tip: If you want to perform a backup immediately, rather than wait for the schedule, click More options and then Back up now.
Like a smoke alarm, it’s a good idea to test your backup once in a while. To confirm that File History is working:
There are benefits and drawbacks of leaving your backup drive connected to the computer all the time, as opposed to connecting it, say, every Sunday and doing a backup then:
It is up to each of us to make a reasoned decision here. It might help you to know that I deal with many more cases of people losing data because they weren’t backing up regularly, than I do of them losing data to malware or theft.
I’ve also written a more general introduction to backup.
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