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Aim

I'd like to have a simple system in Windows 10 where I backup known folders daily to an external drive for two weeks, then switch that out with a second external drive, and repeat this process every again every two weeks.

This mostly works.

Problem

When connecting the drive at the start of a two week process, by using the Backup>More options>See advanced settings>Select drive option I can select the existing backup.

existing backup instances

This allows me to easily see (and restore) old files through the convenient Backup>More options>See advanced settings>Restore files from a current backup option.

The problem is that once this drive is selected, it depopulates the Backup/Excluded folders, so I have to spend a chunk of time selecting the relevant folders.

Question

Can I conveniently use two drives with Windows backup, not having to redefine folders when I switch out backup drives every two weeks?

  • Do you refer to the deprecated Backup and Restore (Windows 7)? – harrymc Aug 19 at 9:49
  • I am referring to the the main Windows 10 Backup. – Geesh_SO Aug 19 at 10:12
  • Not an answer: File History is not a good backup product and is not recommended. I say this because I have encountered so many issues here without real solutions like post1, post2 and post3. This is just for information. – harrymc Aug 19 at 10:24
  • If the question is about switching between two File History configurations, you may look into saving and restoring the Config*.xml files in %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\FileHistory\Configuration. You should first stop the system service File History Service (fhsvc). You might also have a look in registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\fhsvc\Parameters\Configs. – harrymc Aug 19 at 10:38
  • It seems like those configuration files also exist at [backup location]\Configuration. I wonder what the relationship between the two places is and how I should modify them accordingly. I tend to agree with you, though. Even if jumping through these undocumented hoops works, it's presumably not supported by Microsoft and this method could fall apart if Microsoft changes how they handle configuration. It seems like Linux has a good number of backup options which are full of features, stable and open source, so when WSL2 I'm thinking about using BUP. – Geesh_SO Aug 19 at 10:44
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+50

My understanding is that the question is about switching between two File History configurations.

I suggest as solution the saving and restoring of the Config*.xml files in the folder %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\FileHistory\Configuration, which is the main configuration repository of File History.

While switching these files, you should first stop the system service "File History Service (fhsvc)" and restart it afterward. It is possible to automate the switching process by using two .bat files, described below.

There are also other secondary places where File History keeps configuration data, although I don't think they should also be switched. These are the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\fhsvc\Parameters\Configs and [backup location]\Configuration.

User JW0914 in the above comments testifies that he uses this technique for configuring File History.

Let's say that you have saved one configuration with the command:

copy "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\FileHistory\Configuration\Config*.xml" "C:\path\to\save1"

And that you repeated this for the second configuration that you wish to save. So in the end you have two folders, save1 and save2, for the two.

To return save1 while stopping the File History service, you would write a .bat file such as:

sc stop fhsvc
timeout 5 >nul
copy /y "C:\path\to\save1\Config*.xml" "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\FileHistory\Configuration"
sc start fhsvc

This batch file needs to run in Administrator mode. You may store it on the desktop, or add a desktop icon that will point to it. You should create two such, for save1 and save2.

Explanation of the script commands:

  • The sc command is used for controlling system services. It will here stop the service fhsvc for the duration of the operation, then will restart it.

  • The timeout command will delay execution for five seconds, time enough for the service to terminate (increase if required), and its output is directed to the NUL device to avoid verbose output.

  • The copy command is called with the /y parameter to suppress the confirmation prompt when overwriting the files.

  • Your offer to supply bat scripts would be welcome! – Elmo Aug 21 at 9:28
  • Script added above. – harrymc Aug 23 at 14:21

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