How to Backup and Restore Files in Windows 10

This step-by-step guide will guide you through the process of setting up ‘automated backups’ of your most important files in Windows 10 – and how to recover them if ever needed.

Fortunately, Microsoft has made it quite easy to not only backup your files, but have control over which ones get backed up and how often. The only thing you’ll need is a hard drive to back them up onto. Once you’ve got that plugged in, you’re ready to go!

  1. Click the Start button and navigate your way to the Settings section.
  2. Select Update & Security from the list of Settings.
  3. Select Backup from the navigation menu on the left side of the screen.
  4. Click the Add a drive button.
  5. Windows will now list each of the drives available for you to use to store your backups. Select the one you want to use. Ideally you’ll want to use one that’s always plugged in, so that backups can happen uninterrupted. Otherwise, you’ll need to manually run backups and/or remember to plug the drive in frequently.
  6. As soon as you select a drive, Windows will enable the backup service. Click the link titled More options – it’s located under the Automatically backup my files toggle switch.
  7. By default, Windows will run a backup of your files each hour – and while it can be changed, it’s a good place to start. Also, backups don’t take very long after the initial one has completed. Select the Keep my backups drop-down menu.
  8. Depending on the size of the drive you’ve dedicated to backups and/or the amount of space you want to dedicate to backups, select the appropriate option.
  9. Keep scrolling down the Backup options until you get to the Back up these folders section.
  10. There’s a good chance that you won’t need or want to backup all of the folders that Microsoft selects by default. For example – if you’re a Dropbox user, you probably don’t want to backup your Dropbox folder. To remove that folder from the list simply select it and then click the Remove button. Review each of the other folders that Microsoft suggests you backup to confirm you do in fact want them to be backed up.
  11. If a backup hasn’t started already – although it probably has, click the Back up now button.
  12. You’ll notice that a new folder will be created on your backup drive named FileHistory. It’s important to just leave this folder alone.
  13. If you ever need to recover any of your files, instead of looking through the FileHistory folder, simply go back to the Backup options section. Scroll down to the Related settings list, and click the Restore files from a current backup link.
  14. A file explorer window will open and display a list of all the files and folders that have been backed up.

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  16. To recover files and/or folders, just select them and click the large green Restore button.
  17. If you want to restore the files to a different place from where they were last located, instead of clicking the big green Restore button, select the “cog” icon (see screenshot below) from the upper-right corner of the window and choose Restore to from that menu.

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  19. That’s it!
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