Back to Top

How to back up your data automatically

If you've been reading at least a few of my articles, you already know that I am a huge fan of automation, and a huge fan of Windows 10. Sure, I disliked Windows 2000 and Windows 8 just like everyone else, but I've got to admit that Windows XP and Windows 7 were two great versions of the world's most popular operating system. And even though I was quite reluctant to try the free Windows 10 OS upgrade at first, now I am really glad that I went for it. And one of the reasons I chose it was its vast array of tiny, built-in tools that do their job perfectly, including the automated data backup and recovery tools.

Because, let's admit it, bad things can happen anytime. It's not a surprise, because hard drive manufacturers try to squeeze as much data as possible into tinier and tinier devices, so hard disk data tracks have recently gotten a typical width of only 200 nanometers.

If you thought that SSDs are much better, think again: most of these devices utilize lower quality memory cells, or try to store more data into a single cell, thus reducing its reliability. I know that most manufacturers state that their products can easily last 5 to 10 years, but what happens after that, when you've lost all your precious photos/memories, data or applications, because the hard drive has died?

It's a scary scenario, and (unfortunately) it happens quite often. Still, by backing up your data regularly, you should be 100% safe. So, what does the most recent version of the OS offer when it comes to data backup and recovery? Most of you are already familiar with Windows' old, trusty Backup Tool, but Windows 10 has significantly improved a newer tool, which made its first appearance in Windows 8.

Yes, one of the key, and yet little-known backup tools that are built right into the operating system is "File History", which can be accessed by selecting "Control Panel" -> "System and Security" -> "File History".

You will have to turn this feature on to be able to use it, of course. Once that you've clicked the "Turn on" button, though, you can sleep well at night, knowing that your files are being automatically backed up every hour. Then, if you need a certain file, you can get access to all its versions, which have been saved to an external drive. The files are saved hourly by default, but you can set your preferred schedule; choose five minutes backup intervals if you are working with critical files, or decide to save the result of your work on a daily basis, in case that you don't need so many copies.

By default, File History will back up your documents, pictures, videos, etc. but you can add as many additional folders as you need to the queue. You will also discover the option of ignoring the files that can be found in a specific folder.

Storage space costs are quite small these days, but if you can't afford to purchase at least an external 1 TB hard drive, you can have the tool delete the old version of your backed-up files after a specified number of days. By default, File History will keep all the copies of your data forever, but if your files utilize a lot of space (think people who are into video editing, for example), you may need to keep fewer file copies.

File History can also back up your data to OneDrive. It's a handy feature, because the option is built right into the tool, and Microsoft's storage plans are affordable. You can get 1 TB of space for $7/month, or 5 TB for $10/month. In my opinion, this is the perfect solution for people who want to keep their data safe.