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How to create a personal backup with File History in Windows 11 – News Opener

Whether it is ransomware or just basic wear and tear, all systems eventually fail. You should have a complete backup of personal data and settings ready for such occasions.

Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic.

According to the annual Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2021, U.S. businesses are still falling victim to phishing emails, which is the most common method of entry for ransomware, at a rate of 60%. With that rate of success, is it any wonder why ransomware continues to be a major problem for everyone with a computer?

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Whether you are a large enterprise, small business or a simple user of a home computer, you can protect yourself by creating and maintaining up-to-date backups of your data and your operating system. With proper backups, criminals inserting ransomware on your Windows 11 systems will still be annoying but much less expensive.

Creating a backup with file history in Windows 11

The file history feature, which we are using for this backup method, has been part of Windows for some time, and TechRepublic has a Windows 10 tutorial on how to use it for that version of the operating system. The procedure is similar for Windows 11, but there are enough differences to warrant its own step-by-step walkthrough.

Unlike Windows 10, the Windows 11 file history feature is buried deep in the Control Panel menu. The best way to find it is to type “file history” into the desktop search tool and select the appropriate search result. As you can see in Figure A, the first thing you should do is turn on the file history feature.

Figure A

How to create a personal backup with File History in Windows 11 - News Opener
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic.

The system has chosen a USB drive (E:) as the backup drive, as it is the most likely candidate connected to this PC. If that drive is not appropriate for your backup, click the Select Drive item in the left-hand menu to find a suitable replacement, as shown in Figure B. You may also add network locations from this screen.

Figure B

How to create a personal backup with File History in Windows 11 - News Opener
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic.

Once you have selected your backup drive and turned the file history feature on, but before you allow the backup to start, you will want to click the Exclude folders item to designate which folders you want to leave off your backup.

In Figure C, you can see that we excluded two versions of Microsoft OneDrive from the list of folders to backup, since those folders and files are already safely stored in the cloud.

Figure C

How to create a personal backup with File History in Windows 11 - News Opener
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic.

When you are happy with your exclusion choices, click the Save Changes button.

Now, click the Advanced settings item from the left-hand menu to reveal the settings screen shown in Figure D.

Figure D

How to create a personal backup with File History in Windows 11 - News Opener
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic.

From this screen you will want to decide how often you would like to run your backup process and for how long you want to keep copies of your folders and files. You can run this backup process in a range from once an hour to daily. You may choose to keep backup copies forever or merely a few weeks or months, or years.

Once you are happy with your choices, click the Run Now link. From that point on, until you stop it or change the settings, Windows 11 File History will create and maintain backup versions of your designated folders and files.

SEE: Checklist: How to manage your backups (TechRepublic Premium)

When it comes time to recover your folders and files, return to this File History screen in the Windows 11 Control Panel and select the Restore Personal Files item from the left-hand list, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

How to create a personal backup with File History in Windows 11 - News Opener
Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic.

Restoring folders and files with this Windows 11 tool is easy — just click the green restore button and all the backup files will be copied to their original locations.

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