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I've been playing around a bit with Windows 8's new File History feature. It's really disappointing that it can't be enabled for files outside of the specified locations, but I guess that can't be changed (right?)

However there are some things I could not figure out:

  1. How can I specify a partition on the system drive to store history in?

  2. I can set the size of the offline cache. But if I use an external drive, from what I understand the files will be backed up when I connect it, and when it's disconnected all file versions will be stored in a local cache somewhere (where?) on the system drive, waiting for the drive to be reconnected at which time an almighty flush will occur. So does the size limit for the offline cache affect the local cache as well?

  3. Related to #2, what if I have a small system drive (say an SSD) but a comparatively huge external one, and the former does not have enough free space equal to the size of the offline cache specified on the latter? Does that mean if the external is not connected and the local cache is full, I will lose older file versions?

  4. How can I add redundancy, i.e. specify multiple drives to save the same file history to? For example, specify an external drive as the primary location, and a second internal drive as the secondary one?

  5. I see the three options below (frequency of saving, size of offline cache, retention period):

    Win8 File History Advanced Settings

    But what I'm really looking for is retaining only the last 'X' copies of each file. Is something like this possible?

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  1. I don't see backing up file history to a partition on the same hard drive as a good solution, what happens if the hard drive fails? Backups should always be stored on a separate hard drive(s) Probably the reason Microsoft does not allow you to use a partition on the system drive.

What Microsoft is trying to accomplish with File History:

What is unique about this approach compared to a more traditional backup and restore?

Regretfully, backup is not a very popular application. Our telemetry shows that less than 5% of consumer PCs use Windows Backup and even adding up all the third party tools in use, it is clear nowhere near half of consumer PCs are backed up. This leaves user’s personal data and digital memories quite vulnerable as any accident can lead to data loss. In

Windows 8 Microsoft is actively trying to accomplish the following:

Make data protection so easy that any Windows user can turn it on and feel confident that their personal files are protected.

Eliminate the complexity of setting up and using backup.

Turn backup into an automatic, silent service that does the hard work of protecting user files in the background without any user interaction.

Offer a very simple, engaging restore experience that makes finding, previewing and restoring versions of personal files much easier.


In the end there is no perfect solution, from Microsoft or anyone else, consumer backup software is a compromise on features as none of them have it all. Most 3rd party file backup/sync software will offer more features and flexibility than Windows File History.

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I agree, there is no point to keep the file history on the same hard drive hence the reason why in Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\File History\Select Drive you can only choose either local hard drive or a network drive. – Darius Oct 23 '12 at 16:23

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