How to back up and restore data in Windows 8

How to back up and restore data in Windows 8

Discover how to back up your files in Windows 8 and restore earlier versions

It's vital to ensure your data is backed up properly so you can quickly retrieve it should anything get lost. Windows 8 includes a very useful back-up tool called File History that also gives you the chance to restore older versions of your files. Once set up, it will automatically back up your important documents and other files to an external drive so that you can quickly get them back if disaster strikes.

1. Select what to back up

By default, all files in your libraries are backed up, so the simplest way to ensure that a file is protected is to add it to a library. See Make use of libraries to find out how to move files into libraries and add folders to an existing library.

2. Access File History

Go to the Search charm and type ‘backup ’. Choose Settings and click Save backup copies of your files with File History. This opens the File History window. Files aren't backed up until you specify a drive to use. This could be an external USB drive or a network location but it needs to be somewhere other than your computer hard drive.

3. Turn backup on

Connect your external drive and select it. If you want to use a network drive, choose Add network location and then browse to the drive you want to use. Once your destination drive is set up, click Turn on to begin backing up your files. You can return here and click Run Now any time you want to run a manual back up, although File History backs up automatically on a regular basis.

4. Recover lost or deleted files

To recover a file, open the search charm and choose Settings. Enter ‘Backup ’ and choose Restore your files with File History. This opens the location of your backups. Select the backup you want to restore from and browse to the file that you want to use. Click the green restore button at the bottom of the window to return this file to its original location.

5. Restore an earlier version

If you've overwritten a file or updated it, losing some data, you can recover an earlier version. Browse to the file you want to roll back in Windows Explorer. Select it and then choose the Home tab on the ribbon. Click History in the Open group then scroll to the version you want to restore. Click the green Restore button.

6. File History settings

Open File History using the search charm as above. In the left-hand pane, choose Advanced settings. Here you can specify how regularly you want backups to be taken. Use the dropdown list to choose the backup interval. You can also set the amount of disk space to reserve for your backed-up files and how long you keep backups for. By default this is set forever but you can set a specific time or choose Until space needed.