Backup and Restore Enable or Disable File History in Windows 11

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File_History_banner.png

File History regularly backs up versions of your files in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. Over time, you'll have a complete history of your files. If the originals are lost, damaged, or deleted, you can restore them. You can also browse and restore different versions of your files. For example, if you want to restore an older version of a file (even if it wasn't deleted or lost), you can browse through a timeline, select the version you want, and restore it.

File History only backs up copies of files that are in all folders and subfolders inside your account's C:\Users\<username> folder. If you have files or folders elsewhere that you want backed up, you can add them to one of these folders.

File History takes advantage of a feature built into the NTFS file system called the change journal to keep track of changes to files. Essentially, when any change is made to a file or folder on your hard disk, the change journal is updated with a description of the change and the name of the file or folder. So to determine which files need to be backed up, File History simply consults the NTFS change journal. Using the change journal is fast and efficient and won't use up a lot of system resources like running a conventional backup routine does.

Before you start using File History to back up your files, you need to first select where your backups are saved. You can select an externally connected drive, such as a USB drive, or you can save to a drive on a network. There are other choices, but these two provide the best options to help protect your files against a crash or other PC problems.

If the drive selected as the backup location becomes unavailable, such as when a USB cable is disconnected or the network goes down for maintenance, File History will continue to do its job by saving the copies to a cache on the local drive. Once the backup location becomes available again, the cached contents are transferred to that location and removed from the local drive.

This tutorial will show you how to enable or disable File History for your account or all users in Windows 10 and Windows 11.


File History requires the File History Service and Windows Search services to be enabled and running.

File History will also be available for previous versions of files.



Contents

  • Option One: Turn On or Off File History for Current User in Control Panel
  • Option Two: Enable or Disable File History Feature for All Users in Local Group Policy Editor
  • Option Three: Enable or Disable File History Feature for All Users using REG file


EXAMPLE: File History feature disabled for all users

File_History_disabled.png






OPTION ONE

Turn On or Off File History for Current User in Control Panel


1 Open the Control Panel (icons view), and click/tap on the File History icon.

2 Click/tap on Turn on or Turn off. (see screenshots below)

It is recommended to set up File History how you want before turning on File History.


3 You can now close the Control Panel if you like.

Turn_on_File_History.png

Turn_off_File_History.png






OPTION TWO

Enable or Disable File History Feature for All Users in Local Group Policy Editor


You must be signed in as an administrator to use this option.

The Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Windows 11 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions.

All editions can use Option Three to configure this same policy.


1 Open the Local Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc).

2 Navigate to the policy location below in the left pane of the Local Group Policy Editor. (see screenshot below)

Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\File History

File_History_gpedit-1.png

3 In the right pane of File History in the Local Group Policy Editor, double click/tap on the Turn off File History policy to edit it. (see screenshot above)

4 Do step 5 (enable) or step 6 (disable) below for what you would like to do.


5 To Enable File History Feature for All Users

This is the default setting to allow users to use Option One.


A) Select (dot) Not Configured, click/tap on OK, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)​

File_History_gpedit-2.png

6 To Disable File History Feature for All Users

This will disable and prevent users from using Option One.


A) Select (dot) Enabled, click/tap on OK, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)​

File_History_gpedit-3.png

7 You can now close the Local Group Policy Editor if you like.





OPTION THREE

Enable or Disable File History Feature for All Users using REG file


You must be signed in as an administrator to use this option.


1 Do step 2 (enable) or step 3 (disable) below for what you would like to do.


2 To Enable File History Feature for All Users

This is the default setting to allow users to use Option One.


A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.​

Enable_File_History_feature_for_all_users.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\FileHistory]
"Disabled"=-

3 To Disable File History Feature for All Users

This will disable and prevent users from using Option One.


A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.​

Disable_File_History_feature_for_all_users.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\FileHistory]
"Disabled"=dword:00000001

4 Save the .reg file to your desktop.

5 Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

6 When prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

7 You could now delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.


That's it,
Shawn Brink


 

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