Windows 8 no longer has a Backup utility. It was replaced with File History.

There doesn't appear to be any way in File History to specify locations to backup; i will just assume that it keeps file histories of every file on my computer.

For example, on my D:\ drive i have some folders i want to ensure are backed up:

enter image description here

i don't know that they are being backed up; the File History provides no interface to know that my files are protected. But i certainly don't want File History to backup some of the other folders (e.g. 60GB of WoW and Diablo). So i "exclude" all the folders on my D:\ drive that i don't want:

enter image description here

But my intuition tells me that File History likely isn't even recording histories of my files. The only reason i think that is because the File History on the history drives has nothing from my D: drive. This feeling of dread is compounded by the fact that File History only says it will take files from my Libraries, Desktop, Contacts and Favorites:

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How do i backup arbitrary folders in Windows 8?

Note: Windows 7's Backup allowed the selection of data to backup.

Edit: Apparently, suggesting alternative software is against the SU rules (as this and this guy found out)

  • Whatever method you choose... I would suggest having two top-level directories (ok, ok: "folders") on that drive. Put all the folders you want backed up, or historied, or whatever in one - call it \safe. Put all the folders you don't want covered by automatic backup or file history in the other - call it \scratch or something. That way you can just configure the \safe directory into your backups and move subfolders into there, or not, as you like. Saves a lot of micromanaging time in the backup configuration. – Jamie Hanrahan Aug 3 '17 at 1:22
  • @RickBrant I can't really move D:\Games\World of Warcraft\Screenshots to a top folder. It has to be where it is. – Ian Boyd Aug 3 '17 at 13:43
  • You can fix this with junction points. Junction points are like symlinks but for directories rather than files. For everything that you CAN move to a top-level folder, do that, it's easier. For other stuff, put a junction point in that top-level folder to each "other place". Don't try to use shortcuts because they are artifacts of File Explorer and only understood by File Explorer. Junction points are implemented in ntfs.sys and "just work" with anything that traverses the file system. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_junction_point – Jamie Hanrahan Aug 3 '17 at 21:01

Or, you can use the old Backup that's actually still inside Windows 8

Although there's no guarantee it will still work on later version (9?).

  • 2
    Windows 2000 backup didn't survive into XP. XP backup didn't survive into Vista. Vista backup didn't survive into 7. 7's backup has been replaced in 8. It's safe to say that Windows 9 will not use Windows 8's backup strategy. But i hadn't seen that sneaky feature! – Ian Boyd Jan 2 '13 at 22:40
  • 2
    @IanBoyd it survived! At least in windows 10. – kreker Jun 25 '16 at 10:43

You need to activate file history first. you can do it in Control panel or by click on History button on your explorer window of any folder.

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you need to add external drive or network drive to store your files and folders version.

Once you add drive and turn it on. add folder which you want to back your history by following steps.
Right click on folder and Click on Create new Library.

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now you can track your old versions of your folder and file and restore it. Check the following step.

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And look at history of this folder.

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And click green button for restore any version of folder or file.

  • @Sickest I also added this images but I have not enough reputation for add image (it requires 10 reputation). Thanks for edit. – Piyush May 5 '14 at 19:31
  • 6
    This answer should have been the accepted one. It answers the question perfectly and with detail. Also, my advice to people reading this is to read Windows 8: File History explained to really understand the benefits of this new feature! – Jony Adamit Feb 4 '15 at 14:12
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    @JonyAdamit The reason i didn't accept this is because i certainly am not going to add folders into a library just to make them backed up. If i add these folders to a new library, then a new library would appear. That's no good. – Ian Boyd Aug 23 '15 at 12:25
  • I added a folder twice as a new library. It prompted me saying it was trying to add it to a share, which I disallowed. Assuming it's now copying the new folder (but not sharing it), how do I remove my redundant copy of the library? How can I rename any of them? – mpag Jan 19 '18 at 18:08

My strategy is a little unwieldy, and would benefit from refinement.

Add all document locations to the Windows 8 Library. Right click any folder and ‘Include in Library’. Incidentally, this is no bad thing in itself

Turn on File History.

Problem: you may need a huge disk if you have lots of files.

Another problem: I have heard rumours that File History does not always copy / backup all files during every File History cycle. Nevertheless, all files should now be ‘Backed up’ by default. You could refine the list by using the exclude facility as you mentioned.

As for recommending 3rd party software, I was not aware that this was a SU offense in itself, especially if you have no interest in the product. That said, I don’t have a recommendation in this case!

With Windows 8's File History I am unsure if we are on the cusp of great new way of backing-up, in which I case we (I) need to understand more of how to get the most from it, or if this just a flaky technology that is best avoided.


In Windows 10 the process is a bit simpler than what @Piyush describes. You do not have to create a library.

Just open the folder that you want to back up in Windows Explorer. In the ribbon, there is already an active History button:

History button in windows explorer

If you click it, it will say We can't find your folder: We can't find your folder

Click Include it in future backups

After a while it will say This folder hasn't been backed up yet:

This folder hasn't been backed up yet


  • 2
    Secondary way: open the file history in the settings click "more options" and add folders there. This only works after at least one backup. – SEJPM Jan 31 '16 at 14:33

go to the Cortana search box and type in file history the best match will be backup settings. open that and there will be a more options button. click that and it will open a new window that has an add folder button. add anything you want.

  • 1
    Cortana was introduced in Windows 10. The question is about Windows 8. Please edit your answer so it fits the question. – alljamin Nov 19 '16 at 6:21
  • Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question. – DavidPostill Dec 4 '16 at 11:31

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