How to Use File History in Windows 8 to Recover Personal Files

We have previously shown you how to activate the Windows 8 File History feature. In this tutorial, we will show you how to protect your personal files from accidental data loss by saving them to external drives or a shared network for easy recovery.

External hard drives and shared folder (from a network location) must be connected to recover files from the File History.

1. In Windows 8 metro UI you can use the “Search” tab, type “Restore your files with File History” and click the icon. This will launch the Home File History and the file folders.

2. Click the “Restore personal file” on the right side.


3. You’ll see the recent versions of the files – double click the folder(s) and scout through the files until you find the one you wish to restore. Use the arrows beside the address bar to navigate the folders.


Note: At the bottom of the screen, there will be an arrow that allows you to see the previous versions of the files and folders – click the arrow to go back (left) or forward (right) to see the versions and the dates. For reference, the 3 of 3 means there are three versions of the files and folders; these are the recent folders.


4. Once you find the specific file, click the green button “Restore to original location.”

If you click an older version of an existing file or folder, File History provides three options: Replace the file in the destination, skip the file, or compare information for both; to keep both files with different versions, right-click the file and choose ‘Restore to.’ To preview the file, right-click and choose “Preview.”


Users can customise the File History settings to change the way it works.

1. In the Home File History, click the settings icon beside the Search bar and choose “Set up File History.” You’ll be directed to the File History settings in the File Explorer.

2. Click the “Advance settings” on the left side, and you can change the versions, HomeGroup, and view the Event logs.


Users can customise the following options:

Save copies – it allows users to set how frequent File History saves the files (every hour is the default) from every 10 minutes to daily.

Size of offline cache – users can limit the size of the cache in the system, which File History uses to copy files. The default is 5% of disk space, but they can adjust it from 2% (minimum) up to 20% of disk.

Keep saved versions – would you like to keep your files forever? File History can do that, but it can take up a significant amount of hard disk space. You can adjust it from one month up to two years or choose ‘Until space is needed.’

You may view the Event logs to see the recent changes or errors. Click the link and the Event Viewer will pop us showing you the data under the General and Details tab. This will make it easy for you to track any errors or issues that occurred in the past.

It’s better to adjust the offline cache and saved versions to save more disk space if you are working on large-size files. Another special feature of File History is that it allows users to exclude specific folders and libraries from being copied in the key location set by the user. If you’re looking for a free smart solution to retrieve your data, activate File History and say goodbye to accidentally deleted or edited files.

How about you? What are the tricks or tools that you use for file recovery?