Is File History Enough

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6 responses to “Is File History Enough”

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    643

    I decided to just use file history.  My experience is that, when I used to do system images, whenever I got a new drive I would always re-install and then get my folders from the system image.  In my case file history is enough.

    On your comment you say you are doing a system image and then incremental backups and that you only need the last incremental.  Check the documentation of your software to make sure that what they call incremental is actually a differential.  By definition incremental backups are the changes since the last backup, you would need all incremental backups since your last full backup to do a full restore.

    Differentials, on the other hand, are the changes since the last FULL backup.  So even though a differential backup will get larger over time, it does include all the files in a way that you only need the last full backup and the las differential to do a full restore.

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      3231

      In reply to BeckoningEagle: You are absolutely correct I miswrote when I said incremental. They are actually differential backups.
      I am interested in your usage; it implies that the file history is sufficient to restore any applications that you have installed. Is this really correct? The system files and programs which come from a recovery action or a reinstall are obviously secured by the source of that media. I believe that unless you have specifically added the files you install they cannot be recovered. The data on either the main drive (C:\) or any ancillary drive (D:\) folders you have added can be copied to the file history and are recoverable after restoring the system.
      Application writers seem to keep their preferences or options you specify in the application in the folder that is created in c:\program files which I think means they cannot be recovered or have to be recreated after re-installation of the application. I keep all the installation files in the downloads folder but still have the problem of the preferences and options.
      I think I need to start a movement which suggests that the Windows system should be the only thing on the C:\ drive all other installs would be to the D:\ drive. Now I think I have seen that somewhere before, Oh, I remember what do they call it "A thin client". Hmmm

       

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        offTheRecord

        In reply to MacNala:

        I used to do this in the past. After installing Windows on the C: drive, I'd change the default folders (Downloads, Documents, Music, etc.) to point to a different drive (I used to call it Z:). That way, I could make a (smaller) system image of C: and do real-time backups of Z:. They actually made it easier to change the default folder locations in Windows 8/8.1 than it was in Windows 7.

        Somewhere along the way, I stopped doing this. I'm not sure why or what prompted it. I suspect I just got tired of having to customize everything each time there was an upgrade or I got a new PC. As I've gotten older, the desire to fiddle with my PCs (as opposed to just getting stuff done) has declined dramatically. Also, not all data gets stored in the default user folders by default. Some of it gets buried in system folders on the C: drive unless you go into individual programs and customize the settings.

        So, I now just accept the defaults. I still make regular periodic system images of C: and do real-time backups of my data folders, but now everything lives on C:.

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    5615

    "My thinking if a refresh can install the latest version of Win10 can the File History restore everything else?"

    In general, no. File History in Windows 10 will only back up files and directories that you specifically tell it to back up. For most people, that will be the data created by installed applications (such as you'll find in Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music, etc. folders), but not the application files themselves. No matter how expansive you make the list of files and directories for File History to back up, it is unlikely that you will back up everything you need to restore all of your Win32 applications as well as the data. File History wasn't designed for that. That's what system images are for.

    When Microsoft suggests that File History is all you really need for backups, and that that in conjunction with a Refresh will get you back on your feet, they are implicitly assuming that you only have Windows Store apps installed. Although, Microsoft wishes to high heaven that was the case with all Windows 10 users, the reality is that most people have Win32 programs installed. A Refresh will not restore these programs, whereas a system image restore would. With a Refresh, any Win32 apps would have to be re-installed separately one at a time.

    File History is better than nothing and may be good enough for most casual users, but only a system image will allow you to restore *everything* as it was at the time the image was made. Windows 10 allows you to make system images, so you can still do both with MS built-in functionality.

    One of the things many folks don't realize is that Windows 10 system images created with the built-in imaging tool are basically virtual disk files. That means you can actually mount a system image as a separate drive and get at individual files and folders in the image without having to restore it first.

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    3229

    File History should be enough to back up all of your data files that are irreplacable. Even if you have desktop programs or custom scripts/tasks/registry tweaks installed, you may be okay without if you can either spend the time (and money, if it is something like Office or Photoshop that limits the umber of installs) to reinstall and reconfigure everything or use Desired State Configuration to set it all back up like you had before. Even if neither of these is an option, you could still do periodic system image backups whenever you install a big, new program or make a big registry change.

    TL;DR: if you are willing to make a couple of sacrifices, you can still get all you will need with only MSFT software.

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    Chaoticwhizz

    There is one shortcoming that FileHistory doesn't address. If your PC gets infected with ransom ware, then your File History copies would get encrypted against your will just like the live versions of your files. TO prevent this, you would either need to disconnect your File History drive when not in use (hard to remember on a regular basis), or use another form of backup that does not have direct writable access from the file manager.

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