Windows 10 File History backup not working Solved

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  1.    15 Apr 2016 #1

    Windows 10 File History backup not working

    I want to back up my Windows 10 laptop using the built-in Windows back up facility. All of the advice I have read on the internet suggest the use of File History.

    I have a Western Digital 500GB USB hard drive which I attached to the laptop and followed the advice on the Windows 10 web site: Settings/Update and Security/Backup/Backup using File History/Automatically back up my files set to 'on'. Then in More options I clicked 'Back up now'.

    I could feel the external HDD spinning for a couple of minutes and it then stopped. I left it for another hour to see if anything else happened, but nothing. I looked under 'This PC' for the external HDD, which was listed but remains empty, although it shows a folder 'File History' which is empty. That suggested that something was started but not completed.

    I found this thread elsewhere on this forum:

    file history - Windows 10 Forums

    which discusses the possibility of the USB port (and HDD) being automatically turned off to save energy, and wondered whether that might be happening in my case.

    I have now followed the procedure recommended and found that the external HHD now spins for a longer time. However, it stopped again after about 30 minutes, so I had a look in More options/Restore files from a current backup. This somehow caused the HDD to spin up again, but the message on that page states that the backup procedure is still working. Also, in 'This PC' the HDD icon still shows empty. After a further 20 minutes, it stopped spinning again, yet still no sign of any backup files on the external HDD.

    Unless there is something obvious that I am doing wrong, I can only assume there is a problem with File History.
    I notice that there is still the option to use the old Windows 7 backup facility, which I have found to work well on my old W7 computer. I suppose there is also the option of using some third-party backup software.

    Three questions, please:

    1. Should I persist with File History and, if so, is there an easy fix?

    2. Should I use the Windows 7 backup option or another recommended software?

    3. I am also not sure about leaving my (internal) HDD being left turned on, as explained in the thread I link to above. Is it advisable to leave it set to 'never turn off'?

    Apologies for being so verbose, but I felt it necessary to include as much information as possible!
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2. telepro21's Avatar
    Posts : 44
    Windows 10 Professional 1809
       15 Apr 2016 #2

    Let's start with the basics--
    Have you formatted the external HDD with the computer to which is it attached?
    Can you manually write a file to your external HDD and see that file in Windows Explorer?

    I find the Windows 10 File History to work well on my Win 10 PCs. I have also used the Win 7 backup with success.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    15 Apr 2016 #3

    telepro21 said: View Post
    Let's start with the basics--
    Have you formatted the external HDD with the computer to which is it attached?
    Can you manually write a file to your external HDD and see that file in Windows Explorer?

    I find the Windows 10 File History to work well on my Win 10 PCs. I have also used the Win 7 backup with success.
    Thanks, Telepro, for your very prompt response.

    Yes, I had formatted the external HDD using this computer and I have just copied a small file from my desktop to the external HDD using drag and drop, so at least I know that's one method that I could use, though time-consuming!
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4. telepro21's Avatar
    Posts : 44
    Windows 10 Professional 1809
       15 Apr 2016 #4

    OK. So that means that the system knows the drive is there and that's great.
    Now, create a new folder on your PC and add one file. Then add only that folder to the File History setting in Windows 10 to see if the system grabs the folder and file.
    Be sure that you have specifically set the Win 10 File History to back up your new folder.
    (You can use the More Options link on the Win 10 File History page to add the folder.)
    Let us know what happens.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    15 Apr 2016 #5

    OK, I have done that. The new folder contains only a single small file (of 32kB). The external HDD is spinning and has been for over 5 minutes now. I would have thought that backing up only that single folder should have been done long before now.
    I went to Settings/Update and SecurityBackup, yet when I clicked More options the Settings page closed and I therefore cannot access any other options. The HDD is still spinning away and I now see (in This PC) there is a small blue line at the beginning of the bar which previously was entirely grey, suggesting that it has transferred something across. I have looked in the drive and there are now some documents and videos despite my only saving the one small folder you mentioned. Perhaps these were saved earlier, but I had formatted the HDD again just prior to performing this save that you suggested.
    Clearly, it is still saving things that I haven't asked it to. I can't understand it.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  6. telepro21's Avatar
    Posts : 44
    Windows 10 Professional 1809
       15 Apr 2016 #6

    Hmm...curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say...
    Just to be certain that everything is set properly, this is also an article that can be referenced--> Windows 10 File History Tutorial - How To Set Up Use File History
    At the very least, you might consider turning the File History Off, rebooting and then turning the feature back On. Just to see if anything changes.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  7.    15 Apr 2016 #7

    Yes, it is strange. However, at least it now seems to be backing up. Incidentally, although I can now access More Options again which might suggest that it has finished saving, the HDD is still spinning.
    Anyway, I'll try what you suggest and see what happens.

    May I just ask one other thing? Is it necessary to leave the settings such that the (internal) HDD is set to 'never turn off', as was suggested in the other thread on this site that I linked to earlier?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  8. telepro21's Avatar
    Posts : 44
    Windows 10 Professional 1809
       15 Apr 2016 #8

    My system is not a good example as I use an SSD for the main Drive C: and it is set to never power off.
    However, it may be advisable to set your main HDD to never turn off until you get this File History thing working.
    With that said, I can tell you that I have always manually set my PC drives to stay powered on during a backup and then moved them back onto a more efficient power plan setting upon backup completion.
    Just an old geek habit but it has worked for me.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  9.    15 Apr 2016 #9

    Well I've done as you suggested: turning the File History off, rebooting and then turning the feature back on. I also formatted the external HDD again so I could start again to see if things work properly.
    Now I'm back to square one. The external HDD is spinning but nothing is appearing on its icon in 'This PC'. Also, if I open Backup/More options again it says 'Your data is not backed up'.
    I'm rather worried that this backup procedure is proving unreliable. I certainly don't want to go through the procedure of creating a folder, adding a small file and trying to back that up before performing future backups!
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  10.    15 Apr 2016 #10

    I've now done a backup using the (old) Windows 7 option, which worked perfectly. What's more, choosing the folders I wanted to include (and exclude) seemed to be easier. and there was also the option of not having to schedule regular backups as I prefer to do this when convenient for me to fish out and connect the external hard drive rather than daily, hourly, and so on.

    What I'd really like to know now, and I don't seem to be able to find it anywhere else, is does this method of backup automatically perform incremental backups?

    It's a bit late in the day to do a full system image, but I'll have a go at that tomorrow. Today's backup took one hour; I expect the system image will take several.

    Finally, I'd like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to help me and to offer the suggestions you have. It was very much appreciated.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

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