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In a recent study, Microsoft discovered that few Windows users (about 5 percent) actually used the built-in backup software that comes with Windows, so it’s probably no coincidence that Windows 8 boasts its most feature-rich backup utility to date.
Not only does Windows 8 allow traditional backup of data files, but it also allows users to perform either a destructive or nondestructive refresh of the operating system and its associated programs. The Windows 8 utility also has a new feature called File History, which enables users to keep several versions of the same file archived, so they can selectively restore data on both a granular and chronological level.
Drag the Charms Bar in from the right side of the screen. Click the Settings icon, then the Control Panel link. Ensure that the current view is set to show Large Icons so all available options are visible (this setting can be adjusted with the drop-down menu next to View by:). Finally, launch the Windows 7 File Recovery applet to bring up the familiar Windows backup utility. There are three main things to do here: create a system image, create a system repair disk or configure a traditional backup.
Click the Set up backup link on the right side of the window. The first screen that appears will ask where to save the backup. Specify either a network location (by clicking the Save on a network… button) or any detected removable storage device that appears here. Click Next after making your selection.
The second screen is where data to be backed up is selected. Options here are to Let Windows choose (recommended) or Let me choose. While the former option is appropriate for most users, it will not grab things that aren’t stored in libraries or default Windows folders. This is relevant if any third-party programs are storing data anywhere other than libraries, because that data will not be backed up. In such cases, select the Let me choose option and add any custom locations that need backup. Click Next when finished.
The final screen that appears allows a review of the backup settings. Note that Windows automatically sets backups to run on a schedule. To modify this, click the Change schedule link that appears below the summary. When satisfied with the settings, click the Save settings and Run backup button at the bottom of the window. Once the backup completes successfully, the Last backup: field will update to reflect the current time and date.
Turn this feature on by clicking File History in the bottom left corner of the Windows 7 File Recovery in Windows 8 or under System & Security in Control Panel in Windows 8.1, and then click the Turn on button.
File History can then be customized using the options in the left margin: These include Select drive, which sets a different target location for the File History to be stored; Exclude folders, which pares down the database by streamlining which folders are monitored; and Advanced settings, which customizes File History scheduling, cache size and when to discard old file versions.