Microsoft claims backup and restore breakthrough in Windows 8

The company hopes the enhancements will prompt more users to back up their files

Windows 8 makes the process of file backup and restore the easiest it's ever been for users of Windows OSes, Microsoft said on Tuesday.

Acknowledging that usage of this feature is woefully low even on Windows 7, Microsoft set out to make Windows 8's new File History application much simpler to set up, use and maintain.

In addition to the usability enhancements, File History also innovates in other ways, including its ability to capture and archive multiple versions of each file, thus providing not only a backup copy but also a history of a file's changes.

"We designed File History with two objectives in mind; 1) offer best possible protection of user personal files and 2) offer ease, simplicity and peace of mind," wrote Bohdan Raciborski, a Microsoft program manager, in a blog post.

"If you want to take advantage of File History, you have to make only [a] few, simple decisions," he added. "The rest is taken care of by Windows. The operation of File History is transparent and doesn't affect the user experience, reliability or performance of Windows in any way."

To use File History, Windows 8 users need to turn it on and select where the backed-up files will be stored. This repository can be an external drive or a network location. The application doesn't support backing up files to cloud storage.

If users are fine with using the default settings of File History, they don't need to do anything else. The application will run in the background, waking up every hour to back up files.

Unlike other Windows and non-Windows backup and restore utilities, File History has been designed to only protect personal files, not the entire contents of a PC.

This means that File History will concern itself only with files stored in the Libraries, Desktop, Favorites and Contacts folders, and will not back up the OS or applications.

"Our research showed that only a small number of users are concerned about losing the operating system, applications or settings. They are by far more concerned about losing their personal files. For these reasons, File History was designed specifically to protect user personal files," he wrote.

To optimize File History's performance and its usage of system resources, the application was designed to only copy files that have been modified, which it knows by checking the NTFS (New Technology File System) change journal.

The File History restore functionality has also been designed with ease of use in mind through a Windows Explorer-like interface designed for quick discovery of files, according to Microsoft.

The application is designed to run not only on desktop PCs but also laptops and tablets, so it is tuned to detect, for example, whether a device is running on batteries and how many applications are being run, and based on that adjust its operation.

Advanced users can modify its default settings and change, for example, the frequency of backups, how long file copies are kept and whether certain folders should be excluded from the process.

Microsoft expects that with File History, usage of backup and restore will be significantly higher on Windows 8 than on previous versions of the OS, he wrote.

Windows 8 will be commercially available in October.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?