File History is a radical departure from all previous Windows backup systems.
Here’s what you need to know about File History: why it’s so different, its requirements, its advanced settings — and some useful tweaks!
The trouble with traditional backups
Until relatively recently, the best backup tools for Windows came from third parties — not Microsoft. But that’s changing. Although Windows XP included a basic backup applet and Vista had a better one, it was not until Windows 7 that Microsoft shipped a complete, built-in backup and recovery system with its desktop operating system. (For more on Win7’s backup system, see the May 12, 2011, Top Story, “Build a complete Windows 7 safety net.”)
And there’s also still a myriad of top-quality, free and commercial, third-party backup tools available.
Unfortunately, a wealth of backup options hasn’t convinced most Windows users to make regular backups. For many, the process is still too much hassle.
Windows 8’s goal: No-effort system backups
For Windows 8, Microsoft rethought the concepts of PC backups and created File History, a highly automated, set-and-forget archiving system. The goal was to make backing up a PC so easy and unobtrusive that most Windows users would actually do it.
Former president of Microsoft’s Windows division Steven Sinofsky described the File History design goals in a July 10, 2012, “Building Windows 8” blog.
“In Windows 8, Microsoft is actively trying to accomplish the following:
- Make data protection so easy that any Windows user can turn it on and feel confident that their personal files are protected.
- Eliminate the complexity of setting up and using backup.
- Turn backup into an automatic, silent service that does the hard work of protecting user files in the background without any user interaction.
- Offer a very simple, engaging restore experience that makes finding, previewing and restoring versions of personal files much easier.”