RPV: Win7’s least-known data-protection system

Fred langa By Fred Langa

You deleted a file yesterday; now you really need it back. Your Windows recycle bin is empty — what now?

Your next-best option is the Restore Previous Versions tool — a truly great, automatic data-protection feature buried in Win7.

I say “buried” advisedly; most people have never even heard of it. You’ve heard of it, of course — you read Windows Secrets! But I’ll still bet you rarely, if ever, use it. And if you have used it, I’ll bet your initial explorations were probably like mine — a click here, a poke there, some head-scratching, and then mostly ignoring it.

But it’s a mistake to ignore or underuse this feature, because it really is a hidden gem.

What is Restore Previous Versions, exactly?

Introduced in Vista and now present in all editions of Windows 7, previous versions are local backups of every data file and folder that changes on your system. The backups are created automatically and are instantly accessible. Previous versions do for your standard documents (text files, spreadsheets, photos, whatever) what Windows System Restore does for system files.

The function that creates previous versions is enabled by default and is probably working right now on your PC, whether you’ve ever used the previous-versions feature or not.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2011-06-16:

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.