How to Enable or Disable File History in Windows

Xiaobai Software  2022-08-31 12: 37  read 40 views

It is a good practice to back up your files and folders.You can use these backups if your system crashes or your files become corrupt or inaccessible.The traditional way to create a backup is to create a system image.This is not possible every time and requires a huge amount of space.

Fortunately, the File History feature is available in all versions of Windows starting with Windows 8.This allows you to back up important files on an external storage device.If you are curious about the file history feature and want to use it, this article will detail how to enable it on your system.

 

What is the File History feature in Windows?

Microsoft released the File History feature for Windows 8, and it has been improving it over the years since.The File History feature allows you to create a backup of important files and folders on an external storage device.It is different from System Image or Windows Backup because it only backs up specific files and folders instead of copying the entire C: drive.

Typically, the File History feature backs up documents, music, pictures, downloads, videos, offline OneDrive files, and desktop folders.But you can use File History to add more folders you want to back up.

Is Windows File History any good?

Yes, the File History feature is undoubtedly a feature that Windows users are very much in need of.Earlier, you could only rely on manually backing up folders on external storage drives.Or you could create a Windows backup, but that would be huge in size.

The File History feature lets you save the contents of your most important folders, where most apps save files.You can also add additional folders, an important feature that Microsoft was missing when it rolled out File History for Windows 8.1.

File History will routinely back up your files and folders with default settings, but you can modify them.For example, you can exclude folders you don't want to back up, change the backup frequency, or even add more folders.

What happens when file history is turned off?

When installing Windows, File History is not activated by default.You'll need to enable the feature by visiting the Control Panel or Settings app.When File History is turned off, Windows does not automatically back up documents, music, pictures, downloads, videos, offline OneDrive files, and data in desktop folders.

You can create manual backups of these folders on another drive, or enable File History to do the same.However, keep in mind that you will have to keep the external storage drive connected at all times to ensure regular backups.

How to Enable or Disable File History in Windows

You can enable File History in Windows using the Settings app, Control Panel, Group Policy Editor, or the Registry.Below is an explanation of each of these methods.

1. Using Windows Settings

Windows 8.1 and 10 offer full file history options within the Settings app.You can use it to enable the file history feature, customize the storage device and frequency, and add or delete folders.

To enable File History using the Settings app, follow these steps:

1. Press Win + I to launch the Settings app.Then click System > Storage.

2. Scroll down and find the More Storage Settings section.Click the "View Backup Options" tab.

3. Check whether the "Automatically backup my files" switch is activated.If it is, it means that file history is active on your system.

 

4. If you don't have File History enabled, you'll see the Add a drive option.Click on it and choose an appropriate external storage drive to back up your files.

5. Then click More Options, and then click the Backup Now button.It will create a backup of the files on the drive.Scroll down to configure more settings related to the File History feature.

 

6. If you want to disable the feature, go back to the first two steps of this method and tap the toggle to disable file history.

2. Using the Control Panel

Windows 11 removed the full file history option that existed within the Settings app.Microsoft moved a lot of settings in Windows 11, but you can access File History using the Control Panel.There you can enable/disable the feature, and manage all settings.

To enable file history using the control panel, follow these steps:

1. Press Win + R to launch the "Run" command box.Then type control panel in the text box and press enter.

2. The control panel will launch.Click System and security options under the Adjust computer settings section.

3. Scroll down and tap the "File History" option.

4. You will see the "File History is turned off" message.Click the "Open" button to enable File History on your system.

 

5. If you have an external storage drive, File History will start backing up the files on it.Backup creation may take longer if you have larger files, such as videos or programs, in the library folder.

6. To disable the File History feature, revisit the options in the Control Panel by retracing steps 1-3.Then click the "Close" button to disable it.

3. Using the Group Policy Editor

If you have a Professional or Enterprise edition of Windows, you can enable File History on your system using the Group Policy Editor.It is not available by default on Windows Home; however, there is a workaround for accessing the Group Policy Editor in Windows Home, so be sure to do so before continuing.

1. Press Win + R to launch the "Run" command box.Then enter gpedit.msc in the text box and press enter.

2. The Group Policy Editor will launch.Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components.

3. Scroll down and find File History Policy under the Windows Components section.

 

4. Double-click the "Turn off file history" setting to launch the editing window.

5. This setting disables the File History feature on your system.Therefore, if it is set to "Enabled", click the "Disabled" radio button to activate File History on your system.

4. Using Registry Editor

You can activate File History on your system with a simple registry tweak.However, you should always create a registry backup before making adjustments.

To enable File History using Registry Editor, follow these steps:

1. Press the Win key and enter Regedit.Right-click on the first relevant search result in Registry Editor and select the Run as administrator option.

2. Go to the top address bar and paste the following path. Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.

3. Now, right-click on Windows and select New > Key.Name the new key FileHistory (without spaces in between).

4. Now, click the "File History" button and navigate to the pane on the right.

5. Right-click on it and select the New > DWORD (32-bit) Value option from the context menu.

 

6. Name the value Disabled and double-click it to edit it.Set the value data to 0.It will keep the feature active on your system.

7. If you want to disable file history, set the value data to 1.

Use File History to back up important files

These are the various ways to enable or disable File History on Windows.You can try enabling the feature using the Settings app.If you have Windows 11, you can enable it using Control Panel.You can also try using Group Policy Editor or Registry Editor to enable or disable File History.

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