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Previous versions of files are recorded as part of a System Restore Point. So whenever a restore point is created, if you have the option set to capture previous versions of files, this data will be recorded at that time. It is important to note that this function is smart enough to know that only changes to documents should be recorded. For example, if you have not updated a document in 3 months, a new snapshot is not captured each time a restore point is created.
To view or change your current settings, open the System item in the Control Panel and click the System Protection item. If you get a UAC prompt, select the option to continue.
Under the System Protection tab, select the drive containing the files you want to monitor for previous changes and click the Configure button.
Under the Restore Settings section, make sure you have one of the options which includes previous files selected.
Under the Disk Space Usage, set the amount of space you want to allow for storing previous versions of files. The more space you allow here, the farther you can “go back” to a previous copy of a file. However, by dedicating space for this feature, you lose the respective amount of storage for new files so be sure to take this into consideration when making this setting.
Apply your settings and System Restore will start using them immediately.
Creating System Restore Points
As mentioned above, previous versions are captured as part of a System Restore Point. Restore points are created automatically by Windows whenever certain installations are done and also, according to Microsoft documentation, once a day. However, if you want to take complete control over when restore points are taken, you can create them yourself either manually or via a scheduled task.
Manually Creating a Restore Point
To create a System Restore Point manually, in the System Protection tab in the System Properties dialog, simply select the respective drive and click the Create button.
Give the new restore point a name and click Create.
Automating the System Restore Point Creation (VBScript)
If this function is something which you intend to use heavily or simply want some additional insurance against accidental file overwrites and deletes, creating a Scheduled Task to force the creation of a System Restore Point is the way to go. While there is not a simple command you can run to create a restore point, we have provided a VBScript file which allows you to automate the process of creating a restore point. You can download this script at the end of the article.
Create a new Scheduled Task which runs as an administrator on the respective machine. Make sure you have the Run with highest privileges box checked.
In the Triggers tab, configure how often you want a restore point created. Remember, snapshots of files are captured as part of the System Restore Point.
In the Actions tab, configure the task to run the CreateRestorePoint.vbs script provided at the end of the article.
In the Conditions tab, select the option to Wake the computer to run this task.
In the Settings tab, select the option to be able to run the task on demand as well as the option to run the task as soon as possible after a missed schedule.
Apply your changes and you are all set.
Automating the System Restore Point Creation (PowerShell)
Hey did You know you can create a System Restore snapshot in Powershell?
The Cmdlet name isn’t one of the typical “GET” or “SET” ones, but it is the following:
And it’s about the easiest one to run!
CHECKPOINT-COMPUTER –Description “This is My System Restore Point”
It has to be run with Administrative Privledges and produces a nice simple status bar as is executes.
In this Powershell script, that you can download below at the end of the article, you'll can see that the System Restore Point will be creater as follow:
The complete code of this script is the following:
CHECKPOINT-COMPUTER –Description "User-Triggered System Restore Point at: $d"
What does this mean to you?
That no matter what you do, you have an EASY way to trigger a System Restore Checkpoint. A simple shortcut to a Powershell script to run it and cover your bases.
Previous Versions vs. Backups
As you can see the previous versions function is quite powerful. However, to be clear, this is not a replacement for regular system backups as it will not protect against drive failure. That said, previous versions offer several conveniences and functions that backups and file syncing services may not:
Previous versions, however, make a great compliment to backups and file syncing services as it not only adds an extra layer of protection but also the conveniences from above at no additional cost.
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