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File History consolidates the Windows 7 backup program and the Previous Versions feature into a single tool that automatically keeps backups of your important files, typically on an external disk drive. If this feature is enabled, you can recover a deleted file or restore a previous version of a file very easily.
One of the options available when you plug in a new USB flash drive or external hard disk is Configure this drive for backup using File History. You can enable or disable these automatic backups and fine-tune what's backed up from this desktop Control Panel window.
This Advanced Settings dialog box offers some very important backup options for the File History feature. In particular, you can change the amount of time for which old versions are saved and how often snapshots are taken.
By default, backed-up versions are saved forever, and fresh copies are snapped every hour. If you set up a network share as the default location for saving File History and then click Recommend this drive, anyone in your homegroup will be able to use that location as a backup target.
From any file or folder in Windows Explorer, you can click History (in the Open group on the Home tab of the ribbon) to flip through the contents of each backup set.
This screen shows the two different views, list and icon, which you can choose using the buttons in the lower right corner of the dialog box.
Notice that the version on display is identified with a date and time stamp at the top of the contents window. Using a touch screen, you can swipe back and forth to choose a different version, or you can click the arrows at the bottom to move from version to version.
Right-click the big blue Restore button if you want the option to save a copy of a backed-up file to a different location than where it was originally saved. This option is especially useful if you're restoring an old version of a document so you can compare its contents with the current one.