I can't find the Previous Versions tab that used to be available, and I see that there is now the new File History thing, but it only appears to back up libraries. But I want it for all of my folders. Is there any way to do this on Windows 8?

Volume Shadow Copy could be hit-or-miss, but if you allocated a lot of space to it (as I did), it seemed to be quite reliable.


I could be going out on a limb here but I think shadow copy is alive and well! Microsoft removed all the GUI's that's all.

In power shell:

(Get-WmiObject -list win32_shadowcopy).Create("C:\","ClientAccessible")

Now check with

vssadmin.exe list shadows #You can also download the shadowexplorer GUI as well

mount what you see after "Shadow Copy Volume:"

mklink /D C:\myshadowcopy <here>\

Note: you need to add a trailing slash after the address as shown, took me forever to figure it.

Whats even more interesting is vssadmin list shadows shows Attributes: Persistent and every thing on the internet makes out you can only make volatile shadow copies?? Tell me if I'm interpreting this wrong folks!


Justin in partially correct, but Shadow Copy and File History are not the same under the covers. Shadow Copy does not exist in Windows 8, File History uses the NTFS Change Journal to track changes. See below for details.

From Wikipedia:

Both Backup and Restore and the "Previous Versions" interface, features that used Shadow Copy, have been deprecated on Windows 8 in favor of the new File History function. Unlike Shadow Copy, which performs block level tracking of files, File History only utilizes the USN Journal to track changes, and simply copies previous versions of files to the backup location.[42] Shadow Copy itself is still available for other software to use; additionally, it is still possible to access previous versions of shared files stored on a Windows Server computer.[80]

Taken from here

There can be issues with Shadow Copies, so moving away from this seems like a good change. "One disturbing thing I did learn about Windows backup is that it uses NTFS Shadow Copies to keep prior versions. One (IMHO) extremely dangerous result of this is that if you ever connect your backup disk to a Windows XP system you'll loose all the prior versions, since XP's version of NTFS doesn't understand multiple shadow copies and so silently deletes everything except the most recent one. This raised all kinds of red flags for me since when I started with Windows 7 I was using the same backup drives to back up both it and my older XP system."

So basically, Windows 7 backup used block level file tracking and Shadow Copies, while Windows 8 uses the NTFS Change Journal to detect changes and copies files to a backup location that the user chooses, which can be a network share.

Here's the official blog from MSDN.

  • 6
    Shadow copy does exist under Windows 8. Only the user interface has been removed.
    – Tomalak
    May 2 '14 at 13:03

In Windows 8 the Shadow Volume Copy service has been replaced with the File History feature. Under the covers the same technology is being used to perform the copying, however the way that it is exposed to the end user has changed.

For information on how to use the File History feature see How to Use the New File History Feature in Windows 8.

Essentially you need to open the "System and Security" control panel view (in the classic control panel) which gives you access to the File History tab

Screenshot of the File History page

From this page you can turn on the feature, select the target location to copy files to and specify advanced options such as how frequently to take snapshots and how long to keep files for.

To restore a file you can then use the "File History" button in explorer to restore deleted files, or to restore earlier versions of existing files.

Screenshot of the "File History" button in explorer

There is also more detailed information on this feature on the "Building Windows 8" blog under Protecting user files with File History.

  • 1
    This is not correct, Shadow Copy is still available in Windows 8
    – CyberJacob
    Feb 8 '16 at 17:11
  • File history only works on secondary disks.
    – neverMind9
    Jul 14 '18 at 11:12

The old-Windows 7 style backup is still available in Windows 8. Just search for Windows 7 File Recovery and you will get it:

  • 4
    Interesting, that's there in Windows 8 but gone in 8.1. You can still use wbadmin at the command line in 8.1, and you can schedule a task to run it, e.g. pureinfotech.com/2013/10/24/….
    – Mark Berry
    Jan 30 '14 at 17:11

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