How to Change File History Settings in Windows 10

By Woody Leonhard

File History in Windows 10 has several settings you may find valuable. Microsoft makes it hard to find File History, just as they’ve made it hard to find Libraries. Kind of goes hand in hand with trying to get you to use OneDrive.

File History backs up every file in every Library on your computer. If you have a folder that you want to have backed up, just put it in a Library. Any Library. Invent a new Library if you want. You don’t have to use the Library; just put the folder in a Library. File History takes care of all the details.

If you want to stick an existing folder in a newly minted Library, it’s easy: Tap and hold or right-click the folder, choose Include in Library, Create New Library, and give your new Library a name. You’re finished.

Here’s how to change some other key settings:

  1. Bring up the Control Panel by right-clicking in the lower-left corner of the screen and choosing Control Panel. Click or tap System and Security, and then tap or click File History.

    The File History main page appears.

  2. If you want to exclude some folders in your libraries so they don’t get backed up, on the left, choose Exclude Folders.

    File History opens a simple dialog box with an Add button that lets you put folders on the exclude list. For example, in this figure, a folder in the Documents Library is excluded.

    Exclude individual folders from File History.

    Exclude individual folders from File History.
  3. Tap or click the back arrow to get back to the File History applet.

  4. To change how backups are made, on the left, tap or click the Advanced Settings link.

    The Advanced Settings dialog box shown appears.

    In this dialog box, you can change the frequency of backups and how long versions should be kept.

    Take control of your backups here.

    Take control of your backups here.
  5. See the recommendations for these settings in the following table, and choose accordingly.

  6. Tap or click Save Changes.

    Your next File History backup follows the new rules.

File History Advanced Settings
Setting Recommendation Why
Save Copies of Files Every 30 Minutes This is mostly a tradeoff between space (more frequent backups
take a tiny bit of extra space) and time — your time. If you
have lots of backups, you increase the likelihood of getting back a
usable version of a file, but on the other hand, you have to wade
through many more versions. I find 30 minutes strikes the right
balance, but you may want to back up more frequently.
Keep Saved Versions Forever (default) If you choose Until Space Is Needed, File History won’t raise a
holy stink if you run out of room on your backup drive. By leaving
it at Forever, File History sends notifications when the hard drive
gets close to full capacity, so you can run out and buy another
backup drive.
If This PC Is Part of a HomeGroup Checked Other people who use your PC and other people in your HomeGroup
probably need backups, too.