Windows Servers have long enjoyed a service called Volume Shadow Copy, which allocates a percentage of a server disk to keeping multiple copies of users documents to safe guard against a user making a mistake and deleting a file, folder or content within a file. Volume Shadow Copy, intelligently notes the changes we make when we edit a file or folder, only storying the difference, so that many files can get stored in previous versions, but only taking up minimal amount of additional space. This guide will show you how to configure and utilise the restore previous version feature in Windows 7 and newer, as well as on server shares if your IT has enabled it.
Setting up on a Windows 7 & 8 or newer PC or Laptop
Windows 7 & 8 is setup the same way. With very similar options.
Right click on Computer on the start menu or from folder explorer. Then select properties. Then select System Protection on the upper left.
Once in the ‘System Protection’ section, you will want to turn on protection. This is done by clicking and highlighting the hard drive you wish to protect (C:\ for example) and then clicking configure.
Windows 7 & 8 differs slightly here. With 8 simply select ‘Turn on System protection’ and in Windows 7 select ‘Restore System settings and previous versions of files’. You will be asked to choose a percentage of the whole disk, that you want to allocate for previous versions. We recommend at least 3% but no more than 10%. This should capture a good few weeks’ worth of edits for a typical user.
Repeat step 3 for each drive, then confirm it shows ‘On’ in the protection column before pressing ok.
Testing it worked
Testing it has worked. Find and existing document, ideally Word or Excel, then right click on it and go to properties. On the Previous versions tab, you will notice no previous versions listed, as we have only just enabled this feature. Close this window and then make a minor edit to the document, choosing to save it as you close. Repeat the test and visit properties of the document, and finally previous versions. You should now notice a previous version of the file to restore to. This feature also works at a folder level, so you can check previous versions of the entire folder the document was contained in, which should allow you to restore to previous versions.
TIP: We recommend not storing anything in the root of Documents, as finding the previous versions can be confusing. Best to store folders in a subfolder, for example, household expenses document in a folder in My Documents\Household\Household_expenses.doc. This way you can restore the entire household folder from previous versions if required. Helps support this great feature, by keeping things in relevant containers, rather than on big mess of files.
For a full backup that will not fill up the backup disks capacity too rapidly, we recommend using a USB hard drive with far more capacity than a daily backup would include. The total storage capacity of all hard disk drives being backed up should add up to at least the USB Backup Disk.
Power management can be configured to wake the computer up and perform the backup, if you let your computer sleep rather than shut it down. Ideal for setting the backups to take place at late at night.