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How to Restore Files with File History in Windows 8.1

If you have File History turned on in Windows 8.1, you can easily restore files to the last saved version should you forget to save before closing or suffer a semi-fatal hard drive error.

  1. On the Start screen, type restore. On the search results screen, select Restore Your Files with File History.

    File History opens on the desktop. The most recent backup versions created by File History appear in the window.

  2. To see other versions of backups, select the left-pointing arrow at the bottom of the window. To return to the most recent backup, select the right-pointing arrow.

    Don’t select the Restore button until you select the specific file(s) you want. Otherwise, all files will be restored at once.

    Generally, you will want to restore the most recent version of a file. However, if you want to restore content that you changed prior to the most recent version, browse to an earlier backup.

  3. If you know the location of the file you want to restore, you can open that location with a double-click or double-tap.

    If you’re not sure of the location, select the search box in the upper-right corner and type the document name. Matching results appear as you type. Select the file you want to restore.

    On a touchscreen, the virtual keyboard doesn’t appear on the desktop until you select the keyboard icon on the right side of the taskbar.

  4. Select the Restore button. If you restored a file you previously deleted, you can close File History. Skip the remaining steps.

  5. If the Replace or Skip Files window opens in the preceding step, a version of the file exists in the original location.

    If you’re sure you want to restore the previous version of the file, you could choose Replace the File in the Destination Folder. However, to see additional options, select Compare Info for Both Files. The File Conflict window appears.

  6. In the File Conflict window, consider the following selections:

    • Select files on the left to replace files in the destination with the backup files. (This is the same as selecting Replace on the Replace or Skip Files screen.)

    • Select files on the right to cancel restoring those files. (This is the same as selecting Skip on the Replace or Skip Files screen.)

    • If you select the same files on both sides of the window, File History will leave the original as is and restore the backup version with the same name plus, allowing you to have both versions. (You need this option only if you’re uncertain about which version you want.)

    If you’re restoring multiple files at the same time, you can select different options for each: replace one, skip another, and have File History create a copy for another. That’s a lot of choices in one little window.

  7. Select Continue, and Windows 8.1 completes the operation based on your choices in Step 6. The location of the restored files opens in File Explorer.

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