Free backup gets easier

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

The Technology Q&A item “Backup Fee-Free” in the February 2014 JofA (page 66) describes a relatively inexpensive backup approach using an external USB device’s backup utility program. While the advice in that item still has merit, I’d like to suggest an even easier backup solution that also works across your local area network to back up other computers. Windows 8/8.1 includes a new backup solution called File History, which can be set up as follows:

1. Plug an external USB drive or media card into your computer.

2. From Control Panel, select File History. Wait a few seconds for the tool to identify your external drive, and then click the Turn on button, as pictured below.


3. File History can also back up the data from other users on your network, even if their computers aren’t running Windows 8, provided those remote computers have properly shared their data across the network. To enable other users to back up their data on your network to the same device attached to your computer, select Yes when prompted.


After selecting Yes, notifications will be sent to other network users with instructions for including their selected data in the File History backup process.

4. Thereafter, Windows 8/8.1 File History will automatically save copies of your data files (and, if applicable, others’ data files) to the external hard drive device. For added protection, as you update your data files, File History automatically saves the newer versions of your files, but also retains older versions (in case you ever need to retrieve them).

5. File History’s Advanced Settings option (shown below) allows you to adjust the intervals in which files are backed up, the amount of disk space allocated to the backup process, the age of older file versions retained, and the option to allow other users to back up to your external drive across the network.


6. The additional Select drive option will allow you to back up to other drives located elsewhere on your local area network, and the Exclude folders option enables you to select specific data folders to exclude from the backup process.

7. Should the need arise to restore files, select the Restore personal files option from the File History dialog box, select the files or folders to be restored, and then click OK.

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

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