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The De-Obfusc8r: File History

After a few notably concise posts, the Building Windows 8 Blog is back with a 4000 word post about File History, the secret new Windows 8 backup solution. Since I’ve already written about File History fairly exhaustively myself, what I’ll focus on in my coverage of the B8 post is just the new information Microsoft provides for end users when compared to my previous articles. There are some neat tidbits.

As a backgrounder, please refer to my previous articles about File History:

Windows 8 Tip: Enable File History
Windows 8 Feature Focus: File History
SkyDrive Tip: Recover Deleted Or Modified Files

OK. So what did Microsoft add to the dicussion?

Why they made it. According to internal telemetry, traditional backup applications are used by only a tiny percentage—5 percent—of users. So in Windows 8, Microsoft has added File History, which, as I’ve noted before is not enabled by default and is hard to find. The best way to figure it out, apparently, is to simply plug an internal drive into your PC. But it’s better, in my opinion, to use a centralized network location if possible.

What’s backed up. “Instead of protecting the entire system (operating system, applications, settings and user files) File History focuses only on user personal files.” What they don’t tell you: You cannot arbitrarily backup other folder locations that are important to you. All you can do is remove locations from the backup set. (Enough people have emailed me about this that I feel compelled to add: Yes. You can arbitrarily add any folder to a new or existing library, and when you do so, File History will back up that location. This is subtly different from the ability to "arbitrarily add a folder to File History, which I think should be more explicit in the feature. But at least there's a workaround. You're a library expert, right?)

More accessible. Where only administrator-class accounts could use Backup and Restore in Windows 7, any user can use File History in Windows 8. (Assuming they know about it and can find it.)

Bitlocker compatible. “Users who use BitLocker to protect the content of their personal files can also use File History as it seamlessly supports BitLocker on both source and destination drives.” Nice!

Group Policy support. File History can be controlled via Group Policy.

And that’s about it. Point being, File History is a great feature. So if you’re using Windows 8, be sure to enable it. Per my earlier Tip. :)

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