Backing up your critical files is something we all know we should do. With Windows 8, Microsoft is taking a new look at the way backup can work and set out to solve the perennial problem of not just restoring all files but restoring a previous version of a critical file you have been editing through the course of a day — through a new feature dubbed “File History,” that offers a new way to protect files for consumers.
In a new blog entry, Bohdan Raciborski, program manager on the Storage team explains the File History saying, “File History is a backup application that continuously protects by saving your personal files stored in Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders.”
If you have folders elsewhere that you want backed up, you can add them to one of your existing libraries or create a new library.
“It periodically (by default every hour) scans the file system for changes and copies changed files to another location. Every time any of your personal files has changed, its copy will be stored on a dedicated, external storage device selected by you. Over time, File History builds a complete history of changes made to any personal file,” Raciborski explains.
Once set up, every hour, File History will check your libraries, desktop, favorites and contacts for any changes. If it finds changed files, it’ll automatically copy them to the File History drive. To set up File History
- Open File History control panel applet.
- Connect an external drive, refresh the page, and then tap or click Turn on.
You can also set up a drive in AutoPlay by connecting the drive to your PC, tapping or clicking the notification that appears…and then tapping or clicking Configure this drive for backup.
Restore a file is also easier with — as the “With File History, the search starts right in Windows Explorer. You can browse to a specific location and click or tap on the History button in the explorer ribbon in order to see all versions of the selected library, folder or an individual file,” explains Raciborski. Here are the steps:
- “Browse personal libraries, folders and files in a way very similar to Windows Explorer.
- Search for specific versions using keywords, file names and date ranges.
- Preview versions of a selected file.
- Restore a file or a selection of files with one tap or a click of a mouse.”
In the past, most backup applications used brute force method of checking for changes in directories or files by scanning the entire volume. Instead of scanning the volume, which involves opening and reading directories, “File History opens the NTFS change journal and quickly scans it for any changes. Based on this information it creates a list of files that have changed and need to be copied,” Microsoft explains. The process is very quick and efficient.
“File History was designed to be easily interrupted and to quickly resume. This way, File History can resume its operation, without the need to start over when a system goes into sleep mode, a user logs off, the system gets too busy and needs more CPU cycles to complete foreground operations, or the network connection is lost or saturated.
File History was designed to work well on any PC including small form factor PCs with limited resources and tablets. It uses system resources in a way to minimize the impact on system performance, battery life and overall experience.”
When File History is running, it gracefully handles state transitions.
“File History also supports new storage features introduced in Windows 8. Users who have lots of data to back up can use Storage Spaces to create a resilient storage pool using off-the-shelf USB drives. When the pool fills up, they can easily add more drives and extra storage capacity to the pool. “
“File History runs silently in the background and doesn’t require any ongoing maintenance – and wakes up once an hour and looks for personal files that have changed. Versions of all files that have changed are replicated to a dedicated storage device,” Raciborski explained.
Here is the video demonstrating File History in Windows 8:
Microsoft plans on charging OEMs between $60 and $80 for the standard flavor of the Windows 8 operating system, namely “Windows 8.”
And, the Redmond software giant is also said to be planning at making Windows 8 Pro available for OEMs for $80-100.
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