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How to Auto Backup Windows 11 Folders at Set Time – File History

With Windows 11’s built-in backup function “File History”, you can automatically back up a specified folder at a set interval. Backup settings can be operated in “File History” of “System and Security” in “Control Panel”. This page introduces how to specify a folder and perform automatic backup in Windows 11.Automatic backup of Windows 11 system etc. can be done with the system restore function.

Overview of automatic folder backup function “File History”

The automatic folder backup “File History” function is useful for saving important files going back in time. The feature of “File History” is that you can create a backup by date and time instead of overwriting at a set interval, and restore from a backup with a specified date and time within the set retention period.

Requirements for the backup function “File History”

Only drives other than the disk drive “SSD” on which Windows 11 is installed can specify the backup destination, so another drive disk is required. Some desktop PCs have two or more internal disk drives, but most laptops will require an external disk drive.

File History backup target folders

When backing up File History, a folder named “FileHistory” is created in the selected backup drive, and a “folder with the name of the user to be backed up” is created in it. Folders that can be backed up with File History are folders such as “Pictures”, “Desktop”, and “Documents” in the user folder. For example, folders added to the Pictures folder are also backed up.

File History backup target folders

  • Address book
  • favorite
  • desktop
  • document
  • Victory
  • video
  • Music
  • Link
  • search
  • saved games
  • OneDrive

Non-default folders in the user folder and folders in other locations cannot be backed up.

The backup function may be running with default values

Some computers have two disk drives and may have backup enabled by default. If unnecessary folders are backed up without your knowledge, you can disable the “File History” function, delete the backups, specify the folders to be backed up again, and run the backups.


Automatic Backup – File History Enablement and Configuration Instructions

Make the disk drive accessible before enabling File History backup. If it’s an external drive, connect it first.

1. Open File History settings

Automatic folder backup “File History” is set from the control panel. 1-1. Open the control panel.

  • After pressing the “Windows” key on your keyboard, press ” cmd “.
  • When the search screen appears, click “Run as administrator” in Command Prompt.

*This operation is the same as entering “cmd” in the search. 

From the Start menu
To start from the Start menu, click “All apps” and click “Windows Tools” in the list to open Explorer, right-click “Command Prompt” and select “Run as administrator” “Click.

1-2. When Control Panel opens, click “Save backup copies of your files with File History” in “System and Security”.
 1-3. “File history” is displayed. This is where you set the automatic backup of folders.
If the selected drive cannot be detected in File History, the screen below will appear.

2. Select Drive for File History Backup

There is no problem even if there are folders and files in the drive selected in File History. And even if you run a File History backup, it won’t be deleted.
If you are not using an external drive, connect it. Here, when the drive is connected and “Detecting” is displayed, wait as it is.2-1. If multiple drives can be selected, or if you do not want to use the drive displayed in the “File History Box” for File History, click “Select Drive”.
 2-1. If multiple drives can be selected, or if you do not want to use the drive displayed in the “File History Box” for File History, click “Select Drive”.
If you want to select a File History drive on a network PC, click “Add network location” and select the drive (folder).
2-3. If you have not set up “File History Backup” on the same drive with another Windows or account, click “No” when “Do you want to move existing files too?” is displayed .

3. Enable File History Backup
3-1. When “File History” is set to “ON”, the first backup will start immediately.
File History’s default backup folders are all basic folders like Documents and Desktop in your user folder.
If you don’t need these backups, click “Stop” and specify the excluded folders to prevent them from being backed up. The method is described in “Specify a folder” in this item.

Working with backups

If you have selected an external drive as the backup drive, connecting the external drive will enable backup. If you remove it, the backup will be disabled, but there is no problem. If you want to stop the backup, you can temporarily stop it by turning “File History” to “Off”. Backed up files and folders can also be left without being deleted. Also, if you switch to “ON”, the backup will continue to start.

File History can’t be turned on

  • Check the connection of the drive used for backup

    If you can’t turn File History on, open “This PC” in Explorer and see if the external disk drive you’re backing up recognizes and opens its contents.

  • Restart File History

    File History can also be restarted from “Services” that started Task Manager, but it’s easier to restart your computer. If it is an external disk drive, disconnect it. The internal drive does nothing and restarts the computer. If it’s an external drive after rebooting, connect it and see if File History can be turned “on” again.

  • Reconfiguring disk drives to create backups

    Sometimes the material on the selected drive set to “File History” is corrupted and cannot be turned “on”. Unselect the selected drive and set it as a File History drive again.

    1. Click “Select Drive” in the left setting item of “File History”, select the drive again and click “OK”.
    2. Click No when asked if you want to move existing files too .
    3. If “File History is turned on” is displayed, it is in the “on” state without doing anything.
    4. If you see “File History is turned off”, click “On”.
  • Turn off non-standard security software

    File History may also be blocked by security prolific software. If you are using third-party security software other than Windows 11 standard security software, stop it temporarily and check if “File History” can be turned “on”.

  • Run Windows 11 system file check

    “File History” may not work properly if there is some problem with the Windows 11 system. In this case, try running a system file check.

  • Try changing the backup drive

    A faulty disk drive or similar can also prevent File History from turning on. If you can get it to turn “on” with other drives, his USB stick, etc. then the problem could be with the drive.

4. Specify folders to back up File History

The specification of folders to back up is specified in Excluding folders backed up by default.

4-1. Click “Excluded folders” in the File History setting items.
 4-2. When “Exclude from File History” is displayed, click “Add”.
You only have one selection of folders to exclude, but you can click Add to select more.
4-3. Open your user folder, click the folder you want to exclude from backup, and click “Select Folder”.
 4-4. Confirm that the location of the folder that should not be backed up is displayed in the box, and click “Save Changes”.
You can check the folders excluded from backup by clicking “Excluded folders” in the setting items.

5. Set file history backup interval and retention period

The backup time interval and retention period are controlled in “Advanced Settings”. Click “Advanced settings” in the File History setting items.

Set the time interval for running backups

5-1a. Click the selection box of “Save file copy interval” and set the “Time interval”.
 5-2a. After selecting the time interval for backup, click “Save changes” to complete the setting.

Set backup retention period

5-1b. Click the selection box for “Keep saved versions for” and set the “Keep period”.
 5-2b. After selecting the backup storage period, click “Save changes” to complete the setting. 

Tips: Deleting old backups by specifying a period

When I click “Clean up old versions”, it says “Please delete old versions of files and folders”.
 Select the period you want to delete and click “Cleanup” to finish deleting old backups.

How to restore from a File History backup
To restore the backup, select the date and time from the saved backup data. You can restore by selecting the folder and pressing the button. You can also select a folder for restore. If you want to restore by file, you can select “Decide for each file” on the confirmation screen when executing restore. 1. Click “Restore personal files” in the “File History” setting item.
 2. Click to select the folder you want to restore.
If you want to restore multiple folders, you can select multiple folders by holding down the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard and clicking.3. Click the “Restore” button to display the restore condition screen. Click to select and restore will start. The conditions are explained below. 

Description of conditions for restoration

  • replace the file

    Overwrites and restores all files with the same name in the current folder.

  • skip file without replacing

    If there is a file with the same name in the folder, the backup file will not be restored.

  • decide to file

    If there is a file with the same name, display a confirmation screen and decide whether to overwrite and restore. It takes a lot of time if you have a lot of files.

If there are files that you do not want to overwrite (replace) with the backup, you can quickly restore them by copying them to a different location before restoring and selecting “Replace files”.
4. If the execution status is displayed after executing the restore and Explorer is displayed, the file history backup restore is complete. 

Deleting and resetting File History backups

Depending on the computer, backup is enabled by default, and you don’t need backup, so delete it and disable it. Here, the folders you don’t need are backed up, delete the backups you made so far and reconfigure. Here’s how to delete and disable File History backups.

Disabling File History and Deleting Backups

1. Click “Turn Off” in the “File History” settings.
 2. Open the drive you are using for backups.

 3. Right-click the folder name of “FileHistory” and click the “Trash” icon to delete it.
Deletions made by clicking the “Trash” icon will remain in the Trash and affect available space. To delete without leaving it in the trash, click “FileHistory”, press “Shift” + “S” on the keyboard, and click “Yes” when the confirmation dialog is displayed.

Reconfigure File History backup

  • After “Disable File History and Delete Backups” is complete, disconnect the external drive if you are using it.
  • Restart your computer.
  • After restarting your computer, reconfigure File History backups by following the instructions on this page, ” Automatic Backup – How to enable and configure File History “.Click ” No ” when “Are you sure you want to move existing files?”
  • After that, refer to the explanation and proceed with resetting the file history, and you are done.

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