Software

How to work around a fouled up File History transfer operation in Windows 10

If you've run into problems while trying to use File History to transfer your data to a new Windows 10 installation, this workaround is for you.

fizkesistock-681625452.jpg

Image: iStock/fizkes

In last week's article, How to correctly use File History to transfer data files to a new Windows 10 installation, I showed you how to use File History to transfer your data from one Windows 10 installation to another when you are either moving from one PC to another or after your have replaced the hard disk in your existing PC. In the process, I pointed out some of the most common stumbling blocks and explained how to avoid them.

In this week's article, I'll show you how to work around the result of those stumbling blocks if you have already fallen prey to them.

The stumbling blocks

As I mentioned in last week's article, the main stumbling blocks are: 1) inadvertently launching File History on your new Windows 10 installation without having selected the I Want To Use A Previous Backup On This File History Drive check box and 2) launching File History on your new Windows 10 installation and in a panic canceling the backup operation because you expected it to begin a restore operation.

In both of these cases, you won't get an opportunity to restore your existing backup because the I Want To Use A Previous Backup On This File History Drive check box will never appear again once File History has made a new backup.

SEE: 12 tips to get more out of Windows 10 (TechRepublic PDF)

The workaround

Fortunately, you can overcome this limitation by starting over with a clean slate. This requires you to do two things. First, you must re-create your Microsoft user account in your new Windows 10 installation. Second, you must delete the bogus File History backup you inadvertently made of your new Windows 10 installation.

File History will then once again display the I Want To Use A Previous Backup On This File History Drive check box. You'll be able to follow the steps in last week's article to successfully use File History to transfer data files to your new Windows 10 installation.

Now, you may be thinking that there has to be a better way to start with a clean slate, and there may be. But I found this method to be the quickest and most reliable. Let's take a closer look.

Re-creating your Microsoft account

Re-creating your Microsoft account is a simple three-step operation and will remove all traces of File History ever having been run. To begin, you will create a new Local user account with administrator privileges. Next, you will log in to the new Local user account and delete your Microsoft account. Then, you will re-create your Microsoft account.

Create a local account

To create a local account, select the Start button and click Settings. When the Settings screen appears, click the Accounts tile. In the Accounts window, select the Family & Other People tab, as shown in Figure A. Then click Add Someone Else To This PC.

Figure A

Figure A
You'll begin at the Family And Other People tab.

Now, you'll see the How Will This Person Sign In? dialog and will be prompted to set up a new user account using an email address as a username. Look toward the bottom of the screen and click the link titled I Don't Have This Person's Sign-On Information, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B
Click I Don't Have This Person's Sign-On Information.

When the Let's Create Your Account screen appears, click the Add A User Without A Microsoft Account link, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C
Click Add A User Without A Microsoft account.

Finally, you'll get to the Create An Account for This PC screen, shown in Figure D, where you can create a local account. Just enter a user name and, if you want, set up a password. Just click Next to complete the procedure.

Figure D

FigureD
Click Next to complete the procedure and create a local account.

When you see the new local account on the Family & Other People tab, click the account. Then, click the Change Account Type button. In the Change Account type dialog, select Administrator from the Account Type dropdown, as shown in Figure E, and click OK.

Figure E

Figure E
Select Administrator from the Account Type dropdown.

Delete your Microsoft account

Now you're ready to delete your Microsoft account. To begin, sign out of your account and then sign in to your new Local user account. Once Windows has set up your Local account, return to the Family & Other People screen. Select your Microsoft account and click the Remove button. You'll then see the Delete Account And Data? prompt shown in Figure F. Click the Delete Account And Data button.

Figure F

Figure F
Click the Delete Account And Data button.

Re-create your Microsoft account

To re-create your Microsoft account, click Add Someone Else To This PC. When the How Will This Person Sign In? prompt appears, enter your Microsoft account email address and click Next. Finally, click Finish in the Good To Go! screen, shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Figure G
Recreating your Microsoft account is easy.

Deleting the bogus backup

In both of the stumbling block cases, File History created a bogus backup of your new Windows 10 installation. You'll need to remove it from your external hard disk to ensure a clean slate for File History to transfer the data files from your previous Windows 10 installation. Use extra caution when doing so—and that probably should include making a backup copy of the File History folder before you start.

As I show you how to remove a bogus File History backup, I'll use examples from my test systems. So of course, you'll need to substitute your computer, backup drive, and folder names.

If your stumbling block was inadvertently making a File History backup without selecting the I Want To Use A Previous Backup On This File History Drive check box, the bogus File History backup will be right in the File History folder. In my re-creation of this stumbling block, the bogus backup is in the folder named GregS, while the real backup is in the folder named Greg, as shown in Figure H. I can verify that this is the bogus backup because inside the GregS folder I can see the name of the computer that contains my new Windows 10 Installation. As such, I'll need to delete the GregS folder.

Figure H

Figure H
The bogus backup is in the File History folder.

If your stumbling block was cancelling the File History backup operation because you were expecting a restore operation, the bogus File History backup will be nestled inside your real backup folder. In my re-creation of this stumbling block, the bogus backup is in E:\FileHistory\Greg\Mercury-10\Data\C\Users\gregs.ASUS-10 and the real backup is in E:\FileHistory\Greg\Mercury-10\Data\C\Users\Greg, as shown in Figure I. As such, I'll need to delete the gregs.ASUS-10 folder.

Figure I

Figure I
The bogus backup will be inside your real backup folder.

Restoring your data

Once you have re-created your Microsoft account and removed the bogus backup, you are ready to transfer your data to your new Windows 10 installation. To begin, sign in to your newly re-created Microsoft account. Once you do, connect the external hard disk containing your File History backup to your PC. When Windows recognizes the USB drive, click Start and type File History. You'll then see the File History screen, which informs you that no file history was found and that File History is turned off. To continue, click Configure File History.

Now you can go to the article How to correctly use File History to transfer data files to a new Windows 10 installation and pick up the procedure under the heading titled The correct way.

Also read...

What's your take?

Did you run into a stumbling block trying to use File History to transfer your data from one Windows 10 installation to another? Using the workaround described here, you should be able to successfully transfer your data to your new Windows 10 installation. Share your thoughts and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox