How to activate and deactivate File History in Windows 11

The File History feature in Windows 11 is a great way to backup and restore your files. However, if you need to deactivate it for any reason, follow these steps:

File History is a feature that allows users to keep their files backed up. To activate File History, you must click on the Start button and then type file history in the search bar. You can also deactivate File History by clicking on the Start button and typing file history. Read more in detail here: when did windows 10 come out.

authored by Matthew Adams

Expert in Windows and Software

Matthew is a freelance writer who has written a number of articles on different technology-related subjects. His primary emphasis is the Windows operating system and all that surrounds it. He is enthralled by… Read more

  • By activating Windows 11’s File History function, you may store automatic backup copies of your user data to external storage.
  • To enable this handy backup function, go to the Control Panel and change the File History settings.
  • You may also use the Group Policy Editor to activate or disable File History.



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Windows 11 has a strong backup tool called File History. To be more specific, it’s an automated backup function that backs up your user folder library to a USB storage device of your choosing. Users may also see a history of file versions.

With File History turned on, you’ll be able to access other backup versions of your files. Then you may choose to restore earlier versions of files that the File History function has saved for you.

Although you’ll generally only need to restore backup versions of files on rare occasions, it’s a good practice to maintain backup copies in File History just in case. The techniques described below may be used to activate and disable File History.

Is File History a new feature in Windows 11? If so, where can I find it?

The File History feature in Windows 11 isn’t new. File History was first offered in Windows 8 as an alternative to Backup and Restore. Backup and Restore isn’t the best tool for backing up user folders.

However, the lack of File History choices in Windows 11’s new Settings interface has left some users perplexed. File History can be enabled and configured in Windows 10 through Settings, but it isn’t accessible in Windows 11.

In the Settings app in Windows 11, the only backup choices available are for OneDrive. Accounts can be used to set up OneDrive folder synchronization, and then Settings may be used to set up Windows backup. That OneDrive cloud sync function backs up folders and data.

File History is still available in Windows 11! However, you must now enable the legacy functionality via the Control Panel. You may also use the two additional ways listed below to activate and disable it.

How do I enable File History Network Discovery?

Keep in mind that in order to use File History in Windows 11, you’ll need Network Discovery turned on.

The Turn on button for File History in the Control Panel will be grayed out if it isn’t enabled. The following steps will enable Network Discovery in Windows 11:

  1. Click the magnifying glass taskbar icon to launch the search tool. 1633428239_824_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  2. In the search box, type the term Control Panel.
  3. To access it, go to Control Panel and choose it.
  4. Select Network and Internet from the drop-down menu. How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  5. Then, under that category, choose Network and Sharing Center.
  6. On the left side of the Control Panel, click Change advanced sharing options. 1633428240_346_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  7. Turn on network discovery by selecting the radio option. 1633428241_698_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  8. Then choose the option to enable file and printing sharing.
  9. To apply the changed settings, click the Save changes button. After you’ve enabled Network Sharing, you’ll be able to switch on File History.

How can I turn on and off File History in Windows 11?

Use the Control Panel to begin.

  1. By clicking the magnifying glass taskbar button, you may access Windows 11’s search box.
  2. In the search box, type the term File History. 1633428242_621_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  3. To access the File History applet in the Control Panel, click it.
  4. Then, on the right, click the Turn on button. Later, you may turn off File History by clicking the Turn off button. 1633428242_396_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  5. Insert a USB storage device into your PC to choose an external disk to back up your data to. Then, to bring up the choices, click Select drive and select a storage drive from the list. 1633428243_939_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  6. To confirm your storage device selection, press the OK button.

2. Use the Group Policy Editor to create a policy for a group of people.

  1. To launch the Run accessory, first hit the Windows + R keys simultaneously.
  2. To open Group Policy Editor, enter gpedit.msc into the Open box and hit OK.
  3. Then, in Group Policy Editor, open this policy location: Administrative Templates for Computer Configuration Components for Windows History of the File
  4. On the left side of the window, click File History.
  5. Double-click the policy that says “Turn off File History.” 1633428243_907_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  6. On the Turn off File History window, depending on your choice, choose Enabled or Disabled. 1633428244_80_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  7. To save the updated policy setting, click the Apply button.
  8. To close the Turn off File History window, click OK.

Windows-10-Activation-error-0xc0020036 NOTE

In Windows 11 Home, the Group Policy Editor is not accessible. Group Policy Editor is available in the Pro and Enterprise versions of the software.

3. Make changes to the register

  1. Open the second resolution’s initial step, which is to run.
  2. Click OK after typing the following command in the text box: regedit
  3. Enter the following registry key location in the Registry Editor’s path bar: HKEY LOCAL MACHINE SoftwarePolicies MicrosoftWindows
  4. Now, in the Registry Editor, right-click the Windows key on the left and choose New, then Key. 1633428245_445_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  5. For the keyword’s title, enter File History.
  6. Right-click in the registry’s right pane and choose New, then DWORD (32-bit) Value. 1633428246_372_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  7. For the DWORD’s title, type Disabled.
  8. To open the dialog in the screenshot below, double-click the new Disabled DWORD. 1633428246_580_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  9. To disable File History, type 1 in the Value data field there. The backup function is enabled by the 0 value in that Value data field.
  10. To save your value setting for that DWORD, press the OK button.

What options do I have if File History isn’t working?

If File History still doesn’t function after turning on Network Discovery, check sure it’s turned on properly.

Furthermore, the service for that function may be turned off. As a result, enabling the File History Service may be the best option. You may look into the service by going to:

  1. To access the search box, use the Windows key + S shortcut.
  2. In the text field of the search tool, type services.
  3. Then, under your search results, click Services to open that box. 1633428247_13_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  4. To open the properties window for the File History Service, double-click it.
  5. Select Automatic from the Startup type drop-down box. 1633428247_398_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  6. If the service is not running, press the Start button.
  7. Apply and OK are the buttons to press.
  8. Steps 5–7 apply to the Windows Search service as well.

How can I use File History to recover my files?

You may restore earlier file versions at any moment if File History has saved any backup copies. To do so, follow the first three steps of the first resolution for enabling the backup function to access the File History Control Panel applet.

  1. As with approach one, open the File History applet in the Control Panel. 
  2. On the left side of the File History panel, click Restore personal files. 1633428248_763_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  3. To navigate through the backup versions of your files, click the Previous Version and Next Version buttons.
  4. After that, choose a file or folder to restore.
  5. Restore to original location by pressing the Restore to original location button. 1633428248_694_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  6. On the File History Control Panel applet, select Advanced settings to customize the backup function even further. 1633428249_228_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  7. Then, on the Save copies of files and Keep saved versions drop-down menus, you may choose different choices. 1633428250_85_How-to-activate-and-deactivate-File-History-in-Windows-11
  8. To confirm, click the Saved changes button.

Despite the fact that there are many third-party backup tools for Windows, File History is more than enough for archiving copies of user data. It’s a useful tool that will back up your user folders at predetermined times.

Don’t assume you won’t require backup file copies at some point. There are many methods for user files to get damaged or destroyed unintentionally. As a result, it’s probably best to be safe than sorry to enable and use File History in Windows 11.

To generate a system image copy, you may also use the Backup and Restore tool. Our tutorial on how to build a system image explains how to use that feature in Windows 11.

Follow the instructions above and tell us which approach worked best for you in the comments section below.

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