How to Delete Older File History Backups

File History does point in time backups of your files so that you can revert back to the exact copy or version of your files when you need them. File History also allows you to configure how long the backups are retained, and beyond that the older versions are purged automatically. This post tells you how to manually clean up older versions of your File History backups using two different ways.

Cleanup Older Versions of Files Using File History Settings

Right-click Start, click Control Panel.

Set Control Panel to icons view, and click File History

Click Advanced Settings in the Tasks pane.

file history clean up old versions

In this screen, you can configure the frequency of backups, and how long the backups are stored.

To delete older versions from the File History backup, click Clean up versions

file history clean up old versions

Select one of the following options in the drop down, and click Clean up.

  • All but the latest one
  • Older than 1 month
  • Older than 3 months
  • Older than 6 months
  • Older than 9 months
  • Older than 1 year (default)
  • Older than 2 years

file history clean up old versions

Cleanup Older Versions of Files Using Command Prompt

To automate the task, there is also a command-line tool named fhmanagew.exe. FhManagew.exe deletes file versions that exceed a specified age from the currently assigned File History target device.

Open a Command Prompt window and type:

FhManagew.exe -cleanup 45

file history clean up old versions

file history clean up old versions

This delete all file versions that are older than 45 days.

Note: If no files match the age criteria you specified (files older than 45 days), the following message would appear.

We didn’t find any versions of your files that were that old

Choose a shorter period of time and try again.

The command-line tool supports the "-quiet" parameter which suppresses output message(s) and the dialog shown above. To do the clean up silently, you’d use:

FhManagew.exe -cleanup 45 -quiet

Quick Tip!

In addition to the above “cleanup” switch, FhManageW supports these additional switches or parameters, which aren’t officially documented.

Run File History backup on demand, manually.

FhManageW -backupnow

Stop File History backup that’s currently running

FhManageW -stop

Open File History settings page.

FhManageW -autoplay

Checks the target drive assigned as the File History backup drive.

FhManageW -checktarget

Screenshots – Before and After Cleanup

file history clean up old versions

file history clean up old versions

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

3 thoughts on “How to Delete Older File History Backups”

  1. Is there a way to retain just the 3 most recent versions of a file, regardless of when they were last saved? If I choose to delete files older than 3 months, and there is only one version of a file (and IT is older than 3 months), is that one version kept even though it is older than 3 months? Thanks.

  2. I backup files in appdata, because of some pop3 and local email accounts. The multiple copies of these large files consumes massive space. If I Manually delete those files from the file history folder, will there be any ill effects (other than not being able to restore the specific file from particular date)?

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