Affinity Consulting Blog

One of the shocks of moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 (and soon to Windows 10) is the seeming disappearance of the built-in Windows Backup function. In a great series of articles by Windows maven Paul Thurrott, backup strategies are explained, including using the new Windows File History feature to backup your data.

As explained by Thurrott (whose Windows blog you should be reading regularly), File History achieves to important backup goals. It (1) backs up important locally-stored files and (2) does so automatically. What it is missing is offsite backup. For that, there are many solutions such as Carbonite, which is what I use in my solo appellate practice.

File History backs up only certain file locations. So if you store your important client and personal files someplace other than, say, the Documents folder in your Windows user profile, you will need to make some changes. It is actually simple to do. As Thurrott explains, you can add the folders you want to back up to an existing "Library" such as Documents, Music, or Pictures. Or you can do what I did and create a new Library or two and assign the files you want to backup to that Library. I created a Library called "Cases" for my client folders and another called "PCLaw" for my time/billing/accounting data from the PCLaw software I use.

In the File History settings, you can pick your backup destination. For a desktop computer that is stationary, you can pick a network drive such as on a server or network attached storage (NAS) device (which is what I do) or an external USB hard drive. For a portable computer that won't always be connected to your local server or network, you can backup to a USB flash drive or an SD or micro SD card, depending on which type of card your computer uses.

There are many ways to customize File History to work the way you want it to work. However, as Thurrott cautions, File History, even when properly configured, is not a complete backup strategy. Like me, Thurrott relies more on syncing files to the Cloud using Microsoft's excellent OneDrive service (which is free and unlimited for Office 365 subscribers). Think of File History, when combined with OneDrive and a Cloud-based service like Carbonite or CrashPlan, as an essential part of your backup strategy.

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