Thinking About Windows 10 File History

Posted on June 4, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in OneDrive, Windows 10 with 67 Comments

Thinking About Windows 10 File History

The recently-leaked Windows 10 Insider Preview build 16212 includes a dire warning for File History users: This feature is no longer supported. I think I know why this happening.

So let’s discuss what this means.

File History is one part of a broader set of backup and recovery features that have been built into Windows for years. It can be configured to automatically backup your most important files to a separate hard drive or network location. But it’s better than a basic backup: File History also lets you retrieve earlier versions of a file, so that if you make a change to a document or other file, you can “go back in time” and return to any earlier versions.

In Windows 10 specifically, File History was updated so that it backs up more locations automatically. And it can now be configured almost completely from the Settings app, bypassing the need to access the legacy control panel interface, as was previously required.

In the Windows 10 Field Guide, I discuss some of the backup strategies that a Windows 10 user might consider: OneDrive for file replication to the cloud, Reset This PC and Refresh Windows (now called Fresh Start), legacy system image backups, File History, and so on. Interestingly, two of these—OneDrive and File History—have a bit of overlap in that they both address personal files.

And that is the key issue here, I think. Microsoft basically has two different ways of helping you keep your most important personal files safe. One of the connects to the cloud, which enables cross-device sync and accessibility. And of them that does not.

Does it make sense to kill File History? After all, this feature retains previous versions of your documents and other personal files, letting you “go back in time” to recover a previous version if you screw something up. That is absolutely useful.

But File History has disadvantages, too. It’s not enabled by default, for starters, because doing so kills free disk space. This is particularly problematic on modern portable PCs, which tend to have only a single disk and often have limited storage regardless.

Today, File History can work hand-in-hand with OneDrive to create previous versions of files you replicate to the cloud. But these previous versions are device-specific and will be re-created on any PC for which you’ve enabled File History. By which I mean, if you have two PCs, both using File History to backup the same files in OneDrive, then you will have two different versions of File History backups, stored locally on two different PCs.

And that, I think, is the problem Microsoft is trying to solve by killing File History. For File History to work efficiently, to work correctly, it needs to be a feature of OneDrive, not Windows 10. And that functionality needs to be accessible from any PC or device, with previous versions not locked to an individual PC.

We already have half of that functionality today: As it turns out, OneDrive also creates previous versions of the documents (and only the documents) you store in the cloud service. What’s missing is an easy way to access those previous versions from Windows. And from other OneDrive clients, for that matter. You have to use OneDrive on the web to access those previous versions—via a feature called version history—today. (Also missing is the ability to access previous versions of more file types. This can and should be added to OneDrive as well.)

So I’m speculating here, but I could imagine Microsoft adding that capability to the Windows shell. And instead of having to manually configure File History on your PC, you could instead just right-click on any file in OneDrive from File Explorer and find and restore those previous versions. Which are stored in the cloud, and not locked to your PC.

This design makes particular sense in the coming version of Windows 10 because OneDrive is getting an On-Demand Files feature, similar to placeholders, which lets you browse your entire OneDrive storage set. And that, I think, is the reason Microsoft is killing File History in this coming version of Windows 10. It will no longer be needed.

We can see how this would work today, too. Right now, you can right-click any document or other personal file in Windows 10 and choose “Restore previous versions”. But this functionality is tied to local backup and restore features like File History or system restore points, and is essentially a vestigial leftover from the past. In the next Windows 10 version, I bet, this functionality will tie to the cloud instead. And that makes tons of sense.

So we’ll see what happens. But that’s my bet.

 

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Comments (67)

67 responses to “Thinking About Windows 10 File History”

  1. Lewk

    It's this modern look at legacy features in Windows and making them better, that I'm appreciating with Windows 10. Not necessarily depreciating a feature, but aligning it to a modern way of doing things. Microsoft is doing a lot of things right lately, and I like it.

  2. John Jackson

    “We already have half of that functionality today: As it turns out, OneDrive also creates previous versions of the documents (and only the documents) you store in the cloud service. What’s missing is an easy way to access those previous versions from Windows.”

    Bollocks. We have previous versions via File History. We have synchronized network file storage via Onedrive. You said so. Its true. We have all the functionality! NASDAQ:MSFT doesn’t want to put the 2 together because it doesn’t make them any money – so it’s going to withdraw one (File History) and make more serfs.

    “But this functionality is tied to local backup and restore features like File History or system restore points, and is essentially a vestigial leftover from the past.”

    So untie it, already! ONEDRIVE and BITTORRENT SYNC are almost the same: distributed file synchronization. Think about it: what does a NAS device do?The Internet means local can be global and vice versa.

    “In the next Windows 10 version, I bet, this functionality will tie to the cloud instead. And that makes tons of sense.”

    Only if you are NASDAQ:MSFT. Me, I refuse to be a serf.

    NOTE: Paul said "tie to the cloud". Psychology always betrays your underlying motivators. TIE.

    No ******* way! Release the chains!

  3. lvthunder

    I hope they leave this feature in Windows Server at least.

  4. robsanders247

    Makes sense. Also in light of the planned move from folder redirection in enterprise environments to OneDrive for Business. But as you mention, getting access to previous versions requires easy access through Explorer, not by requiring users to go to the web interface.

  5. MutualCore

    I have never used File History, better just to make periodic backups of critical files on Dropbox, OneDrive and off-site storage.

  6. IanYates82

    I don't use file history myself, but your article sounds like it's confusing "previous versions" of files - a feature relying on shadow copies of files - and file history. File history lets you point at a network share or (typically) external disk and have windows make those timestamped copies of files.

    The latter doesn't take up extra space on your main drive. The former does but won't go away from Windows completely (if at all?) as shadow copies are key to many technologies such as VSS backups, etc. They were cleverly used by the windows full image backup utility on its target external drives to give the many points in time restore whilst giving the illusion in Explorer (should you have ever assigned the partition a drive letter) of just having a single VHD per backed up partition. Clever...

  7. Daekar

    I would love to see this if they let me pay for more than 1TB of space. In fact, I'm going to need more than 1TB inside 5 years regardless of this feature. If they don't meet me pay for more by then, I'm going to have to drop the service.

    Other than that, this sounds good to me.


  8. Waethorn

    Wow. This is weak!


    So now there is no local backup for external hard drives for people that a) have no hope of getting 1TB of bandwidth, b) can't/won't store anything in the cloud, or c) don't want to use a Microsoft Account for Windows login (like Paul advocates).


    If there's another reason for customers to look at other platforms, this just adds to the accumulating pile.

  9. RobbeB32

    I still feel like Windows should have something as complete and as flexible as Time Machine. That is vastly superior to both current backup solutions in Windows.

  10. nbplopes

    File history never really work that well. Like most MS Windows solutions is not hassle free for one.

    Onedrive neither. Takes a huge amount of time even over 200mbits networks. Consumes a huge amount of resources ...

    Get them togerher you we will have a better solution for sure. Makes loads of sense. If two things do not work that well, get them together That will do it.

  11. rameshthanikodi

    I usually agree with Paul but I can't defend this. People need a *local* backup. Even on a gigabit ethernet connection, backing up large video files online is not as fast as a local one. Hell, Microsoft specifically has said that they don't want OneDrive to be used that way. We should have it - and we have had it! - without having to resort to bandwidth-sapping online services and/or third-party solutions. They need to keep File History, modernize it, or with something else, not just kill it off. MacOS has it for a reason.

  12. John Jackson

    “I think I know why this happening.”

    Agreed. NASDAQ:MSFT is trying to force consumers into a form of computer serfdom, where they are tied to the lord of the manor (NASDAQ:MSFT) and have no choice but to pay rent (annual subscriptions) for their residence on the estate. Once one realises this all NASDAQ:MSFT’s past moves are explainable and future moves predictable:

    -         WINDOWS 8, METRO and the STORE was an attempt at a massive herding onto the estate

    -         the unlimited ONEDRIVE/OFFICE 365 subscription would have completed the bondage by capturing data as well as applications (or should I say apps?)

    -         the most recent tactic is WINDOWS S, which forces all serfs through the STORE allowing NASDAQ:MSFT to tax developer’s revenue streams

    Fortunately for consumers, and the reason NASDAQ:MSFT is pressing (indeed must press) serfdom, is that the ecosystem has done such sterling work on the hardware front that the cost of home ownership has gone down dramatically, whilst functionality has increased dramatically.

    It is the first duty of any IT man then to prevent the return to the serfdom and a slip back to the days of IBM overlords.

  13. John Jackson

    “But File History has disadvantages, too. It’s not enabled by default, for starters, because doing so kills free disk space.”

    This is an example of the limited reasoning often seen in NASDAQ:MSFT arguments to justify a service reduction – focus on the one point in your favour, ignore the rest of the argument which would invalidate the proposal and definitely don’t offer an obvious superior solution with existing technology. E.g. “we have to withdraw unlimited ONEDRIVE storage because 0.000001% of people had too much data and were abusing the system”. Yeah, right.

    Best storage practice is the so-called 3-2-1 policy: a high-availability main copy; a backup copy (with revisions) and an offsite duplicate backup. Unless you wish to run completely unprotected with a single copy then you have to “kill more disk space”. And hey … releasing systems to ignorant consumers with a security feature off by default doesn’t sound very helpful to me! Tell you what – let’s withdraw it altogether and the ignorant can suffer!

    It is obvious that every household should have one device with at least 2 spacious disks - either RAID 1 or STORAGE SPACES mirror – to provide high availability and the first level of data security. Instead of offering up monetizing crap like WINDOWS HOME SERVER and a special HP storage server, all we needed was a device with 2 drive bays. Hold on – they have been around forever. The landlords however do not wish to sell systems configured in a cost-effective manner.

    “This is particularly problematic on modern portable PCs, which tend to have only a single disk and often have limited storage regardless.”

    By the same argument that this problem requires a networked central store (=cloud)… why does this have to be ONEDRIVE at NASDAQ:MSFT HQ? Why can’t it be the folder on my device with the 2 disks? There isn’t a technical reason … it’s not offered because it doesn’t make NASDAQ:MSFT any money.

    All this crap about placeholders taking up too much space on tablets and the cost of cloud storage can be solved at a single architectural stroke. As a Windows Insider I suggested that ONEDRIVE have an option flag –NO_CLOUD_DATA. When enabled only the placeholders would be stored at NASDAQ:MSFT HQ. Instead of paying for expensive cloud storage I could then simply have a second device backing up my data. I could also nominate a 3rd device at another location and complete the 3-2-1 policy if I so choose. But of course that wouldn’t make NASDAQ:MSFT any money. (Exercise for the reader: does BITTORRENT SYNC provide the same functionality?)

  14. John Jackson

    HOWEVER ...

    ... what if the subscription is value for money?

    Then I'm in but only if it's for the long term (oops UNLIMITED ONEDRIVE).

    Value for money ... global corporation ... you're kidding, right?

  15. Luka Pribanić

    I call bullshit, on several points. OneDrive can't replace File History because:

    - it doesn't offer versioning for anything but Office files

    - it has VERY limited free space

    - it is a payed service, and one we CAN NOT TRUST ANYMORE after promissing unlimited data and going back on their words

    - it has a severe limit of 1TB TOTAL which is NOT enough fot everyone

    - and last but not least - IT IS A PAYED SERVICE THAT LOST THE TRUST OF MANY USERS!! I know I'm repeating myself, but what Microsoft did a year ago can not and should not be forgotten!


    EDIT: Few more quick points...

    There are many deal breakers past these above: Payed service, tied to O365, hard limit at 1TB, hard limit of single files, privacy issues, no file versioning past Office formats, no differential sync, no client-side encryption / no backup of encrypted FS / no end-to-end encryption, slow uploads (server side limiting of speeds per-upload), Terms and conditions limiting what I can or can't put on their cloud, MS snooping in your files, banning of accounts (meaning losing all stored data in cloud), changing terms of their service as they see fit, loss of trust, issues with people having slow upload links and/or limited data rates, no option to protect whole drives, no option to protect OS files and folders, no option to protect anything outside OneDrive folder, no option to protect multiple partitions, etc, etc.


    And besides - it's using monopoly to sell their other services. Even if antimonopoly state bodies overlook this, I won't. And if it ever comes that far, I'd rather pay Dropbox for propper service, and not to MS for this half-baked service that OneDrive currently is.

  16. Tony Barrett

    Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away.

    File history was nothing more than a pimped VSS with a fluffy front end anyway. Nothing special, but it worked, and people used it to keep their backups locally. There's no technical reason why this is being dropped - but losing it will encourage (or push, coerce) people into storing their files in Microsoft's lovely, ever so easy to use cloud (for a monthly subscription of course!)

    One more step to lock-in people.

    • mjw149

      In reply to Tony Barrett:

      They're obviously not going to remove the feature from servers, because offices would revolt. So this is really just gimping the client/consumer versions in favor of the cloud.


      What I don't get is just how backwards this is. Already Apple ships Mac with autosave and 'versioning' when properly set up. So they're going to make Windows worse than their only direct competitor?


      https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202255


      Like, you don't have to version the whole OS to give consumers what they really want in a reasonable amount of disc space. And gimping the 'productivity' OS to address netbooks is really shortsighted. Perhaps the office team will step forward with their own solution, it's what they're good at, after all.

  17. Narg

    I've never been a big fan of letting the OS take care of "everything" (as is the expectation today, which I find upsetting...) but this feature was one of the few I did like to see the OS take care of. An OS after all is basically the file system, and the more robust the file system is, the stronger the OS is. Sad to see this good feature get pushed away. I'd rather see them improve on it. Especially with the issues of ransom-ware these days...

  18. JaviAl


    One of the main reason of why i stick on Windows 7 in all of our companies is because the remove of Shadow Copies/Older versions in Windows 8.x and 10. The new File History requieres a secondary storage and only saves previous versions of speficic folders, not the entire hard disk. I active Shadow Copies on all storage devices in all computers and i have Previous Versions of all files in all storage devices. This saves me and recover a lot of files deleted by error. I take note that this is not a backup, but saves works and files in a lot of situations.

    Por privacy and economy reasons I do not use and never use Onedrive or any cloud storage service. I own our personal and company servers and i can access to our servers in all devices in every location via Internet. I don't need any cloud service and I am not willing to pay any subscription for any service that brings me nothing and that I can have for free.

    Since 2010, Microsoft is constantly removing features in all products: Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange Server, etc. And is trying to force to use paying subscription services in all things, including the Solitarie game that is free and without ads in all versions of Windows previous 2010.

    Nobody likes the new Microsoft products like Windows 10. Windows 7 marketshare is growing month by month and is near 50%. Microsoft is digging its own grave.

  19. dstrauss

    So, basically another gimmick to force you to use OneDrive - keep those services (and fees) coming...of course we wouldn't want to create a solution that logically and easily saves file history to an external hard drive like Time Capsule...


    There are numerous professions with prohibitions or additional liability for breaches of cloud stored files; legal, medical, insurance, police & fire, etc....

  20. karlinhigh

    What happens if someone wants to restore a prior version of a multi-gigabyte video project?

    With file history, it could take a few minutes over Ethernet or USB from external, local drives. With cloud storage, it takes time like (file-size divided by Internet-bytes-per-minute). Unless the ISP is something like co-mo.net's gigabit fiber up and down for ~$100 USD per month, I'd be really missing that local, external drive.

    Plus, I can think of several OneDrive competitors that offer versioning backup for both cloud and local at once. That way, there's both disaster recovery and fast restoration available. Hopefully Microsoft is adding such a thing to OneDrive.

    • Stokkolm

      In reply to karlinhigh:

      If you're using Files On-Demand through OneDrive and you created the file on that PC then it should already be local. Granted this will be a problem on a different PC where you haven't already sync'd the file, but that's the same with Dropbox.

      https://blogs.office.com/2017/05/11/introducing-onedrive-files-on-demand-and-additional-features-making-it-easier-to-access-and-share-files/

      • karlinhigh

        In reply to Stokkolm:

        Thanks for sharing that. Having cloud-stored files appear locally with a special status indication is a great feature. Also re-read the Thurrott article from May 11, 2017 on this.

        But unless I'm missing something, OneDrive with Files On Demand still only seems to store files TWO places: the local device, and the cloud. If Microsoft could integrate the File History features with OneDrive, files would be kept in sync in THREE places: local device, local external backup, and cloud.

        Because, nowhere do I see that version history is stored local. And OneDrive only seems to understand incremental backups for Microsoft Office files? If so, the scenario of needing a huge cloud download, rather than a LAN transfer, could still be more common with OneDrive than with their competitors. Think Microsoft can fix that by Fall Creators Update?

  21. Sebastian Ambrose Hilton

    i said it once and I'll say it again. One drive should be the new file explorer and allow backing up of all files and programs to the cloud. Unlimited storage for windows users could drive users to one drive and other windows products. Saving game plays etc all to onedrive

    • allanwith

      In reply to Sebastian Ambrose Hilton:

      Actually, Apple just showed the way on iOS! Their new 'Files' app does the right thing imho in that it integrates with a large number of cloud storage services, including OneDrive.

      Now, it can be debated whether the UI is ideal, aso. But to me, being open to anyone would be the right approach for a modern UWP based file explorer in Windows.

      Other than that I agree with Paul, it seems fairly obvious to me that they would drop file history in favor of OneDrive - especially if they could integrate OneDrive versions into file explorer.

  22. crfonseca

    Microsoft could had a File History type of thing to OneDrive, that would be the better solution, IMHO.

    And they kind of already do, if you open a file *from* OneDrive, it'll automatically have versioning, and you can see and pick previous versions of it (provided the file actually has more than one version).

    Now they just need to add it to all files. Which I'm going to take a guess and say that it's easier said than done.

    Also, they'd need someway to limit the number of versions, like in File History.

    Edit: An even better solution would be to keep File History, obviously. Some people just like having their backups locally, and even if Microsoft thinks their reasons are dumb, it should still be their choice. And there are quite a few good reasons to have them locally, not having a reliable Internet connection is but one of them. And not everyone in the World has a reliable, cheap, "unlimited" in traffic, Internet connection.

  23. Ingrid Clarsion

    OneDrive gets more point in my mind. I backup files to OneDrive at a regular basis, and till now, everything goes well. Last week, I had a clean install for my Windows 10. Everything on the OneDrive just be synced back to my computer. Easy and simple.

  24. navarac

    Problem with most of this thinking is that Microsoft assumes everyone has always on access to the cloud. If I need a previous version of a file while travelling, I'm screwed. As for Onedrive's reliability? It is so very slow compared to Dropbox, for instance. So the loss of File History is another item to go on Zune's, Media Player etc etc list.

  25. glenn8878

    I'm currently using file history and it's a mess. My C hard drive is using 1 TB of 2 TB, but my second 2 TB hard drive that's the backup only has 135 GB remaining. Wish there's a better solution. The program should regularly purge older files so it doesn't take so much space of the backup. The bigger problem is you can't configure it to work the way you want.

  26. rbwatson0

    My problem with this is I use Dropbox for my work files (I own my own small business) and even though Dropbox has a file version backup it only keeps it for 30 days -yes, I know they have a pay version that keeps files for a year- I liked being able to keep a local file history of my own. Forever.

  27. nightmare99

    I think they should always provide a built in local backup system for those that want to backup to external hard drives or NAS otherwise you are going to be stuck with the crud bundled apps that come with these products, buggy software that is rarely updated and creates its own proprietary backup archive.

  28. RobertJasiek

    Of course, I do not use OneDrive regardless of how many features are directed (only) to it. If I want local file version history, I can manually copy files in a file manager or use a third party synchronisation / backup software.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Yes. We can all choose to live in the past. :)

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        I do not care whether it has been introduced in the past - what I care is whether it meets my needs. My primary needs are: permanent immediate access (even if the internet breaks or is "only" slow, even if cloud hardware or software fails) and privacy (local encryption, no access to files or meta-data by cloud providers, states, secret services or criminals, application of German law even if other countries, cloud providers etc. want access by their law). This makes cloud for file version backups the wrong means.

        Cloud as another, remote backup to protect against catastrophes and theft can make sense, but such is not the major purpose of permanent, current file version history.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to Paul Thurrott: Like MS, you don't want to believe that isn't necessarily a choice for some. Economics and availability do still factor into cloud storage, and access to that storage for a good many people. I expect it will get worse before it gets better. Typically the companies that provide access to your cloud storage, are those that also provide your cable TV. With cord cutting becoming de-rigueur, these companies are losing TV subscribers and revenue. They won't stand lower profits, so they will be making that up with higher prices and data caps (with overage charges) on their ISP offerings. I have seen that happen here. Caps have been implemented and internet only price plans have gone up 10% in the last year. Cable companies are working to make it less attractive to subscribe to internet entertainment services while still paying them to get that entertainment to you. That collaterally affects my could storage options. The cloud is a great place to back stuff up. If that is your where your stuff is however, you pay for it every time you use it.


    • LocalPCGuy

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      OneDrive is fine, as long as you have a decent broadband speed. I use OneDrive, File History, and make weekly images onto portable hard drives using Macrium Reflect. I think one local and one cloud backup makes sense, align with a drive image to restore a borked system without the need to reinstall everything. To each his own.

  29. pmeinl

    What about security of backups? File History and OneDrive both do not support EFS-encrypted files. OneDrive does not support an alternative end-to-end encryption, one has to resort to 3rd party solutions like BoxCryptor. Private files should only be stored in the cloud being encrypted via a key controlled and known by the user solely (= end-to-end encryption). Transport encryption and encryption in the cloud provided by storage providers are not sufficient here.

    "Backup and Restore (Windows7)" does still exist in Win 10 Creators Update, see hyperlink at the bottom under "Backup". It is robust, does support EFS and can be configured to wake your PC at night to make a backup without interfering with your work. While it obviously does not solve the redundant local storage problem Paul mentions if prefer to have a secure local backup of my main machine. If find EFS easier to handle then removable BitLocker drives.

  30. LocalPCGuy

    I live and work in a rural area. Most customers only have ~1Mbs DSL, advertised as up to 3 Mbs. This is not going to change for them. The cloud is a terrible way to back up and access files for them. I have been setting up File History for every one of them, that has files they don't want to lose. Portable hard drives and large SD cards work great. Right now I have a PC on my bench with over 400 GB of photographs. The only Internet outside of dial up is slow DSL. There is no way that this customer can use the cloud for all backups. The cloud just isn't fast enough for them in our area. If Microsoft actually kills File History functionality, and prevents restoration of existing backups, there will be many people that will again be angered by their actions. Sure, a third party program will work. What a hassle for all the elderly people that have had File History quietly making backups for them. This could get ugly for rural customers with no true broadband and hundreds of GB of files they want to preserve. File History is one of the best features of Windows 8 and 10. Killing it makes no sense to me, other than a money grab by Microsoft wanting everyone to use their cloud services. It doesn't work for many people in rural America. Microsoft, please don't do it.

    • SomeoneElse

      Similar situation here... rural area, 1 Mbps upload speed but with fixed wireless that's metered during the day. So I have slow uploads with a data cap besides, and apparently OneDrive sync won't honor a connection configured as metered.

      Why doesn't Microsoft put the pieces together? They already know that not everyone has access to fast, unmetered Internet connections because they allow metered connections. They should make OneDrive honor those metered connections. Then give us an interface that will allow anyone to configure their PC to wake up at a given time, get updates and sync OneDrive, then go back to sleep by a given time without having to write scripts, which most people can't do.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to LocalPCGuy:

      Sure. This cloud thing is not a new story. It's the way things are changing. It's like saying, I live in a rural area, and horses will never be replaced by cars.

      • Tedmartinnf

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        But Microsoft appears to be moving to requiring you to use their cloud service with a potential fee just to back up stuff when using their OS - which you already had to pay for.


        Cloud backup makes sense to me but customers need to have a choice in using their OS vendor's cloud service or an alternate. People are buying a licence to use an Operating System - Microsoft does not own what you put on your computer when you use their operating system - and so if the OS does not provide a solution, people will keep using or move to third party Solutions.


        Using high-bandwidth services is expensive and might make this direction not cost effective for many people.


        Ted

      • LocalPCGuy

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        In this case no ISP wants to spend the money to install true broadband that extends to farmers that live relatively far apart. I'm concerned about the ones that use File History, as it works extremely well. If it gets shut off by Microsoft, and these people no longer have automatic back ups, that won't sit well with them. The horse car analogy is nice, but really doesn't fit well in this instance.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to Paul Thurrott: No, it's MS saying we no longer sell buggies to hook to your horse. You need to get a car so you can still get groceries. The reality is the horse still exists for many people that don't have the option for cars. The truth is that MS is a business and there aren't enough cowboys to worry about them. Fine, but it isn't the horse owners fault, and telling them to move on isn't the answer.


      • wizarrc

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        I think it's more like saying, I'm using a version of Windows to do X, and after I get an update, I can no longer do X, now I have to get Y from a 3rd party to do the same thing as X. I may now have to pay money to do the same thing. Not smart. It's like Microsoft dropping AV leaving everyone unprotected, and saying oh, btw, you must now go somewhere else to get your AV after this update, have a good day!

      • Ugur

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        The change has already happened, a good while ago for lots of average users though (lots of people are using dropbox, google photos, google docs etc etc), and unlike the cars<->horses comparison, both sides still have a lot of own pros which will continue to exist for a good long while.

        I use google photos, dropbox and various other cloud services, too, and i have a fast internet connection, and yes, still, there are many very real and very valid pros to having files and file history and automatic backup and restore local (too).

        For example for work i work on large projects most times, where a project folder is often 10 gig and larger. There is no single cloud service on the planet right now, nor in the close future which could manage users uploading/downloading/syncing such large folders there constantly as an example.

        (I use some versioning systems where one syncs single files of those large projects after edits and even that has various issues regularly)

        The "unlimited" options of file cloud services are always only unlimited until a) they reached the amount of users they wanted to get in or b) they realise they made a big mistake in their statistics stating most users would never use that quota.


        Then, regarding automatic file backup and history and restore, that totally should be a builtin OS feature enabled by default, because that is the only way it makes sense for the thought it is intended for.

        One can moan about Apple for many things (i do so a lot, especially about the whole mac lineup being a mess right now), but the way they do automatic file backup/restore/basic versioning on macOS is exactly the way it should be done on Windows.

        For those who don't know:

        On macOS, the way Apple did it is that many onboard Apps like mail, Safari, TextEdit (like Notepad) have automatic saving, loading/restore and basic file history builtin.

        So when one then for example has some notes files open in textedit, one can just close the app (or the OS could for example get shut down/crash), next time one opens the app, it opens it with those files automatically restored and opened.

        Not just that, it even remembers the position/size etc of all windows, so it is like one can go on exactly where one left off.

        So to one as user it is automatically exactly in the state one had it open last time.

        This local file automatic saving/loading/restore (unlike for example their cloud services stuff) works extremely well and reliable, to the degree where one does not actually have to worry at all anymore about the computer crashing or similar and one then loosing all the notes etc one had open.

        That is not just convenience, but a HUGE boon for workflow and reliability and ease of use feeling for the user.

        That's what MS has to copy.


        The one cloud service i use to have docs i edit on all my devices is google docs, but that works reliably with consistent feature improvements and additions for quite some years now, unlike MS' OneDrive offering where i can't take for granted which features and quotas i'll have in 6 months.

        And, btw, despite google docs working so well, i still don't find it a good replacement for something like Apple's local automatic file saving/restoring etc, because the local thing still has some advantages of it's own which are important.


        The advantage of a cloud service like google docs is of course i can access it on all my devices.

        But then there are downsides, even when it works perfectly, like yes, it takes longer to just load, open etc files. If one didn't make local copies of docs and didn't enable them for offline editing, one looses access to them while offline. And it is not like a local textedit like desktop app where i can have all the windows for each file opened on my desktop where i want them and have even the window positions/dimensions restored automatically.


        So yeah, the bottomline is: a good cloud offering is nice of course, but no good when one removes local automatic file saving/loading/restore/backup/file history etc.

  31. Todd Northrop

    I totally agree with Paul on this one, and in fact I thought exactly the same thing when I saw the news that file history was being removed.

    I have gone all-in on OneDrive and generally find it to be excellent. You get 1TB of space for free with an Office365 subscription so it's a no-brainer. The file sync works really well, unlike many of microsoft's previous sync efforts. I can't wait for placeholders to return.

  32. RamblingGeek

    Is version history for OneDrive on the business version or both, I can't see it on the consumer version?

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to RamblingGeek:

      It's in both. It only works with a subset of document types right now, like Word and Excel.

      • Sprtfan

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        I want it for pictures to help protect from Ransomware. I believe pictures backed up to Onedrive are still vunerable to this and there is no way to revert them to a previous version.

      • JerryH

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        They do have a reason it only works for those file types. Those file types are fully understood by OneDrive (as far as the internals) so they are able to efficiently store just the changes and then reconstruct any version of the document without storing each version in its entirety. If they were to support this on more file formats they would either need to forgo the space saving that they get with deep understanding of the file format or would need to have some vendor provided code (yikes) that would run in their cloud to do a similar thing to say AutoCad files or the like.

  33. chrisrut

    Sure wouldn't bet against you on this one! One's "profile" in all its glory will reside in the cloud, instantiated on whatever, wherever you're logged in. The most important component in any system is the user. Everything in between is just I/O.

  34. ecumenical

    So, people who don't subscribe to Office 365 aren't allowed to make backups anymore (past 5GB)? That seems messed up. Not to mention the fact that, believe it or not, there are files on my PC that aren't in my OneDrive folder. Sort of shocked to see Paul defending this. Those two issues alone are deal breakers.

    • Luka Pribanić

      In reply to ecumenical:

      There are many deal breakers past these.. Payed service, tied to O365, hard limit at 1TB, hard limit of single files, privacy issues, no file versioning past Office formats, no differential sync, no client-side encryption, slow uploads (server side limiting of speeds per-upload), Terms and conditions limiting what I can't put on their cloud, MS snooping in your files, banning of accounts (meaning losing all stored data in cloud), changing terms of their service as they see fit, loss of trust, etc.

  35. Ugur

    Nah, i disagree that file history should be part of onedrive, especially if it would be forced to be part of one drive and the local only option not available anymore.

    Honestly, i don't use OneDrive. Why? Because MS has, like for many other things, paddled back and forth so often on what features it has or doesn't have, that i don't have trust in the offering right now and so won't use it until i see it more trustworthy and stable in terms of pricing and features for at least a ear.

    Until then, i'm fine with using other services onwards like dropbox.

    It's nonsense the OS itself then suddenly has no file history and automatic saving/loading/restoring of files anymore.

    Sorry, but that's a minimum basic feature one should be able to expect from a mature desktop OS in 2017.

    See Apple getting it right for at least mail, textedit etc automatically saving/restoring files, even allowing basic file history etc.

    The excuse that low end comps have too low storage to deal with it doesn't fly, if you sell devices which have too low storage for small filesize files to have file history, sorry, yoU're selling gunk and MS should not push that-they should push superior functionality and reliability for the majority of users.

    • Luka Pribanić

      In reply to Ugur:

      I agree completely, OneDrive and Microsoft lost trust of many users over OneDrive's promisses being broken. To make OneDrive default they should make it free, or at least separate from O365, should offer limitless option, limitless file size, differential sync, and so on and so on. Plus NOT change terms of their service every 12 months

  36. MikeCerm

    Everyone just needs to use Crashplan. You can use it with local storage or your own server, and it does everything that File History did (and more), with the one downside being that restoring files requires a tiny bit more effort, but you get a lot more granular control than File History offers.

  37. wizarrc

    First of all I'm not convinced that they are in fact removing it. They removed Paint and then added it back in for the release. They are traditionally horrible at communicating anything. My guess here is that they will be doing some sort of A/B testing to see who really needs it, and what are their use cases before they decide to remove it entirely from windows (local backups). Also, if a feature is on the chopping block, it's probably best to remove it from a non-release version of windows, stabilize windows itself without it, then add it back as a legacy downloadable feature that isn't enabled by default. It makes no sense to remove it for the Fall Creators Update or even the 2018 vNext version as that doesn't give people time to adjust. I can understand how they are trying to deemphasize it, and even remove it in Windows 10S but it's stupid to remove this in a current working computer. If they are in the business of removing features it should be obvious to everyone using it. I don't think the public will be okay with mandatory updates to have things removed that they are currently using.

  38. Angusmatheson

    I don't understand why Microsoft doesn't make this easy. Hard drives fail, and if there isn't an easy way to back them up, pleas won't do it. If you plug an external hard drive into a Mac that doesn't have time machine set up it asks if you want to use it for back up. It also sells a product that backs up laptops over wifi - because laptops are common and have lots of ways they die. It has saved my bacon so many times with my wife's computer. Now I also recommend offsite backup like Carbonite or Backblaze. But to do that you need limitless size if backups. However they do this. Microsoft needs to make it easy. Being fully back up is the thoughtless default - especially for pictures. People should be fully backed up without having to think about it or do anything. This would take one if the major pain points away from personal computing.

  39. Eric Rasmussen

    This is funny. The cloud existed in the 1970s, with devices being limited functionality things that accessed information from network connected mainframes. If the mainframe went down, or the power went out, or a nefarious program ran that consumed all resources, you were done. Nobody could work and anything you needed was unavailable until the problem was fixed. This was largely the reason for the push to distributed information stored on more powerful individual devices. The first time a Microsoft engineer accidentally wipes OneDrive's production database, all the young people will understand.


    There are also companies that are prohibited by law from storing their data in the cloud. Casino gaming vendors, for one. Windows 10 is slowly forgetting that these enterprise users exist, which will be bad for them as a company. Especially since Google is pushing on-prem search and storage appliances to these very customers.

  40. Ron Diaz

    Love how a big Microsoft cash grab in forcing you to use OneDrive is the future....

  41. CloneURpeople2

    It's utterly laughable how 'sheepish' way too many are regarding complacency about security. Most persons are at the least risk by keeping it all close to home; good old bank accounts are pretty tight, and the bank's liable if they get hacked. Home computers the same; decent passwords and backups that you can stick in the garage are statistically really, really low risk for criminal intrusion. Blindly dump it all onto some sort of Cloud, though, and you've joined the legions of those either already hacked once, or soon to be hacked. Worse, the companies providing "services for your convenience" are conning you into trading ease and mindless convenience for actual control of your own materials, and MS now enforces compulsory "Updates" while demonstrating disinterest in making your home system better. It is all about getting folks tricked into paying "a low monthly rate" for the risky storage of valuable or cherished material, with no assurance or insurance that such material may not vanish overnight. When they declared that Windows 10 was going to be "the final ever version of Windows," I bet they didn't consider the implications of that promise. Final, as in, Sayonara, MicroSoft.

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