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Restore Backups with Windows 8 File History

The new Windows 8 backup program, File History, emphasizes saving your own data, not 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 libraries. 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 to your current versions. Should you find a better version, a press of a button brings that older version back to life.

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

1

From the desktop, open the folder containing the items you’d like to retrieve.

For example, to retrieve items that once lived in your Documents, Music, Pictures, or Videos libraries, open that particular library. (The left edge of every folder offers one-click access to those libraries.)

To retrieve an item from a particular folder inside a library, open that particular folder. To see past versions of a particular file, click that file’s name. (Don’t open it; just select its name to highlight it.) Or, to restore everything, click the word Libraries in the left pane.

2

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

Clicking the History button fetches the File History program. The program looks much like a plain old folder. The figure, for example, shows what happens if you click the word Libraries in any folder’s left pane and then click the History button.

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

Feel free to open the libraries and 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.

When you’re looking at what you want to restore, move to the next step.

4

Move forward or backward in time to find the version you’d like to restore.

To browse through different versions of what you’re currently viewing, choose the left-pointing arrow along the bottom. To see a newer version, choose the right-pointing arrow.

As you move forward and backward through time, feel free to click open libraries, folders, or individual files, peeking inside them until you’re looking at the version that you want to retrieve.

5

Click the Restore button to restore your desired version.

Whether you’re looking at an individual file, a folder, or an entire library’s contents, clicking the Restore button places that item back in the place where it used to live.

That brings up a potential problem, however: What happens if you try to restore an older file named Notes into a place that already contains a file named Notes? Windows warns you of the problem.

6

Choose how to handle the conflict.

If Windows notices a naming conflict with the item you’re trying to restore, File History offers you three ways to handle the situation.

7

Exit File History by closing the window.

You close the File History window just as you close any other window: Click the X in its top-right corner.

Tip: For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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