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How to Restore Files From File History in Windows 10

The Windows 10 backup program, File History, saves the files that you've created. It doesn't back up your apps and programs. After all, apps and programs can always be reinstalled. But many of the moments that inspired so many of your photos, videos, and documents can never be re-created.

To keep your files safe, File History automatically makes a copy of every file in your Documents, Music, Photos, and Videos folders. It copies all the files on your desktop, as well. And File History automatically makes those copies every hour.

File History makes your backups easy to see and restore, letting you flip through different versions of your files and folders, comparing them with your current versions. Should you find a better version, a press of a button brings that older version back to life.

Remember: File History doesn't work until you turn it on, a process I describe in Chapter 13. Please, please, flip back a few chapters and turn it on now. The earlier you turn it on, the more backups you'll have to choose from when you need them.

To browse through your backed-up files and folders, restoring the ones you want, follow these steps:

1. Click the taskbar's File Explorer icon and then open the folder containing the items you'd like to retrieve.

For example, click This PC in the folder's left pane to see your most commonly used folders, Desktop, Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. Open any folder by double-clicking its name.

2. Click the Home tab on the Ribbon atop your folder; then click the History button.

History button

Clicking the History button, shown here, fetches the File History program, shown in the following figure. The program looks much like a plain old folder. For example, the figure shows what happens if you click the History button in any folder and then click File History's Home button: That button lets you see all of your backed up folders.

The File History program
The File History program lets you restore backups from any of your main folders.

The File History program shows you what it has backed up: your main folders, your desktop, your contacts, and your favorite websites.

Feel free to open the folders inside the File History window. You can also peek inside the files you find there to see their contents.

3. Choose what you'd like to restore.

Point and click your way through the libraries, folders, and files until you spot the item or items you'd like to restore:

Folder: To restore an entire folder, open it so you're viewing its contents.
Files: To restore a group of files, open the folder containing them, so the files' icons are on screen.
One file: To restore an earlier version of a file, open that file from inside the File History window. File History displays that file's contents.

When you've found the file or folder you want to restore, move to the next step.

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