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Restoring Files

What's more important than your backup is the ability to restore your files. The File History applet reports when you had your last successful backup. Once the interface indicates that you've had a successful backup (Files last copied on date/time) you can start performing restores. You can also restore specific versions of the files you're backing up. Within the File History Control Panel applet, click the Restore personal files link located on the left side of the screen.

At first glance, it isn't obvious, but if you pay attention to the date and version count both displayed at the top of the screen and the navigation buttons included on the bottom of the screen, this window has some special features. The versions are shown on this screen and you can use the navigation (previous and next) buttons on the bottom of the screen to move forward and back. Additionally you can swipe by using the space between the various versions and sliding to the left or the right. Once you've found the correct date/time that you'd like restored, you can either restore the entire folder or restore individual contents by double-clicking the folder.

In addition to restoring the file to the original location you can also restore to a specific location. By right-clicking either the document or folder and selecting the Restore to menu option you can restore to a specific location other than the original source of the file. Selecting the Restore to menu option pulls up the standard Save as dialog box, allowing you to specify a new location for the file. Figure 4 shows the following options as part of the restore capabilities of File History.

  • Navigation buttons for previous, next and restore to original location
  • The date and time of the backup and which version of the folder you are viewing
  • The files included in the backup. In this folder there are two documents: MyFirstText Document and ch02
  • The context menu that includes the options to preview, restore to the original location and restore to an alternate location

By selecting either one of the restore options you can bring back a file and even a specific version that you might have lost or had become corrupt. Once you've started the restore process, you'll see a status window including information about the current restore and an estimated time of completion of the data that you're restoring. This window is shown in Figure 5.

Once you have the backup settings configured, Windows does a great job of keeping your data backed up. However, as with any good backup routine, I'd suggest periodically testing your backups with occasional test restores.


Keeping your data backed up with the ability to restore your information is a commonly overlooked activity. With File History Microsoft has made that task a lot easier. While you can back up to locally attached storage such as an USB, I'd suggest finding a nice network device that allows you to back up over the network. The farther the backup destination is from the source, the better.

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