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Reduce File History size on Windows 10

File History is a useful feature of recent versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system that backs up files regularly when enabled.

You may want to check out our how to use File History guide if you have never used it before.

File History offers additional protection against data loss, but does not replace backups completely.

While it is useful as it is, as it allows you to recover files easily, it may take up quite a bit of space on the designated hard drive.

For instance, it used more than 560 Gigabyte on a machine running Windows 10. While the occupied storage may differ on your devices, it is fair to say that File History takes up a sizeable chunk of hard drive space.

Reduce File History size on Windows 10

reduce file history size

Probably the biggest usability issue of File History is that you cannot set storage quotas for the feature.

While you may configure how often it backs up files, and how long it retains them, there is no option for more control of the feature.

You have two main options to reduce the hard drive space that File History occupies at any given point in time:

  1. Change the frequency in which copies are saved, and change the time period for keeping saved versions.
  2. Clean up versions manually.

Modifying frequency and time period

file history time period frequency

File History may save less copies of a file if you decrease the interval in which it checks files for changes. The positive effect of doing so is that it may reduce the storage space occupied by the feature as fewer file versions may be saved.

The time period in which saved versions of files are kept is also of importance. File History will take up less space if you shorten it.

Here is how you modify both preferences:

  1. Tap on the Windows-X key on the keyboard, and select Control Panel from the menu that opens up.
  2. Locate File History and select the option.
  3. You may alternatively tap on Windows, type File History, and select File History Settings from the results.
  4. Select Advanced Settings on the left.

file history advanced

The next screen displays the current values for “save copies of files” and “keep saved versions”.

Simply click on each menu and select a different interval or time period. For “saved copies of files”, you may set it between “every 10 minutes” to daily. The longer the check interval, the less space File History uses on the hard drive.

For “keep saved versions”, you may set the interval between “until space is needed” to forever. Forever is the default setting.

Cleaning up File History versions

clean up versions

The second option that you have is to clean up File History versions. This deletes them from the hard drive and frees up space in the process.

Click on “clean up versions” on the advanced settings page to get started.

The window that opens displays options to delete files older than a certain period. The best you can do in terms of regaining storage is to delete all file versions except for the latest one.

Other options include deleting files older than a year (default) or files older than a month.

clean up file history

Windows displays a delete progress dialog if it finds matching file versions, or simply that it could not locate any file versions matching the selected parameter.

delete file history

Please note that the storage that File History occupies on the hard drive will grow to the same level over time unless you modify File History parameters as well.

The clean up of File History versions reduced the size of backup copies to 72 Gigabyte on the computer.

Now You: Do you use File History at all?

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