8 Things Small Businesses Need to Know about the File History Feature in Windows 10

Remote Operations CompanyComputers, Data Backup

The File History feature in Windows 10 is usually presented as a backup solution for consumers. However, small businesses can also use it as part of their solution to back up data on employees’ computers.

As a small business owner, here are eight things you need to know about the File History feature in Windows 10:

1. File History Backs Up Personal Data Only

File History does not back up a computer’s operating system, system settings, or applications. By default, it backs up the files found in the folders residing in a user’s C:Usersxxxx directory, where xxxx is the name of that user. This includes the user’s contacts, links, downloads, favorites, desktop items, documents, pictures, videos, music, saved games, and searches, as well as their OneDrive files that are available offline.

You can customize what File History backs up by adding or excluding folders. For example, if you do not allow employees to play games on their work computers, you might want to remove that folder from the File History backups.

2. You Can Store Backups Locally or on a Network

File History can save its backups to many different storage solutions, which include the following:

  • An external hard drive or USB drive connected to a user’s computer
  • A network server
  • A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device

However, File History is not able to directly save its backups to a cloud storage solution.

Ideally, you should configure File History so that the backups are stored on your network rather than on external storage devices connected to employees’ computers. That way, you can centrally manage those files. In addition, you do not have to worry about employees accidentally unplugging the external storage devices.

3. You Can Adjust How Often Backups Are Made

File History works by periodically checking to see if any changes have been made to files located in the folders you selected for backup. If so, it copies the changed files to the specified storage solution.

Backups occur hourly by default. So, for example, if an employee changes a file at 10 a.m. and again at 3 p.m., File History will store both versions of the file. You can change this default setting if needed. Your options range from every 10 minutes to once a day.

4. You Can Adjust How Long Backups Are Stored

By default, File History stores its backups forever. However, if you are concerned about storage space, you can change how long they are stored. You can keep them a certain length of time (e.g., one month, six months, one year) or until space is needed.

5. Employees Can Restore Files on Their Own

With File History, employees can restore a file themselves if they accidentally delete it. This can be a timesaver for the person responsible for backups.

In addition, employees are able to retrieve a previous version of a file. This can come in handy if, for example, they make changes to a file but later decide that they prefer the original version they created the other day.

6. You Can Use File History for Laptop Users on the Go

File History has been optimized for laptop users on the go, according to Microsoft. After employees disconnect their laptops from a network or an external storage device, File History will start saving copies of changed files in a cache on the local drive. When employees reconnect their laptops to the network or external storage device, the cached files are transferred to it and then deleted from the local drive.

In addition, when employees close their laptop’s lid without shutting off the laptop, File History detects the transition into sleep mode and suspends its operation. When they re-open the lid, File History waits for the laptop to come out of sleep mode before it resumes its operation so that it does not interfere with the wake-up process.

7. File History Is Usually Turned Off

By default, File History is turned off in standalone computers running Windows 10, so you need to enable this feature if you want to use it. However, if you connect Windows 10 client computers to Windows Server 2012 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2, File History is automatically turned on.

8. File History Should Not Be Your Only Backup Tool

File History is a good supplemental tool for backing up your employees’ personal files on computers. It should not be your only tool, though. Microsoft recommends that small businesses also perform complete computer backups. That way, you can restore a computer’s entire system (operating system, applications, systems settings and users’ personal data) if needed.

The File History backups, complete computer backups, and any other type of backups you might have (e.g., server backups) should be stored offsite as well as onsite. Your IT service provider can help you set up a comprehensive backup solution that will fully protect your business’s data.