Delete File History Backups on a Microsoft Surface - dummies

Delete File History Backups on a Microsoft Surface

By Andy Rathbone

A refreshing change from the old days of manual backups, the File History program in Windows 8.1 works automatically. Every five minutes, it backs up any changed files. Those backups help you in several ways.

For example, if you realize that your morning draft of a document was better than your current version, you can head for File History to retrieve your morning draft. File History normally saves a year’s worth of files. That means you can retrieve documents months down the road, even if you’ve deleted the originals from your PC or your Surface.

Saving all of those backups consumes storage space, though, and you may find yourself running out of room. To free up disk space, File History lets you clean up its old versions, saving only the ones you want.

To remove old, unneeded File History backups, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Desktop app, hold your finger down on the Start button until a square appears, and then release your finger to see the Power menu.


    The Power menu appears, listing convenient options.

  2. From the Power menu, choose Control Panel. Then, in the Control Panel’s System and Security section, tap Save Backup Copies of Your Files with File History.


    The File History window appears.

  3. On the left side of the File History window, tap the Advanced Settings link.


    The Advanced Settings window appears.

  4. In the Advanced Settings window, tap the Clean Up Versions link.


    The Clean Up Versions window appears.

  5. When the File History Cleanup window appears, choose which older versions you want to delete from the drop-down menu and then tap the Clean Up button.


    If you’re starved for storage space, choose All But the Most Recent Backup from the drop-down menu. If you have plenty of storage, choose the maximum, Older Than Two Years. Choosing the Older Than 3 Months option offers a good compromise between backup convenience and storage needs.

    When you tap the Clean Up button, Windows searches for any backed-up files older than your chosen date. If Windows doesn’t find any backed-up copies older than that date, tap the File History Cleanup window’s Close button. Then return to Step 5 and choose an earlier date from the drop-down menu.

    If Windows found and deleted your old backed up files, tap the OK button to close the File History Cleanup window. You’re done.