Make a new PC like a lost or damaged PC

If you lost your Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 PC, or it's damaged beyond repair, you can make the PC you replace it with like your lost or damaged PC.

Making your new PC look more like your lost or damaged PC depends on the following.

  • Using your Microsoft account. Signing into your PC with your Microsoft account associates your PC settings and info with your account. If you weren't signing in to your PC with your Microsoft account, you can't make a new PC like a lost or damaged PC.

  • Keeping your files in the cloud. If you kept your files on OneDrive, you didn't lose them with your PC. You can get to them on any device you use, including the new PC.

  • Backing up files on your PC with File History. If you set up and used File History to back up personal files that you kept on your PC, you can restore them after you set up your new PC.

  • Backing up your PC settings. The individual settings unique to your PC are backed up to OneDrive by default when you use a Microsoft account. You can only restore these settings if you kept backup turned on.

To make a new PC like your lost or damaged PC

Here's how to make a new PC like your previous Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 PC.

  1. Start your new PC for the first time.

  2. During setup, sign in with the same Microsoft account that you used with your previous PC. You'll also be asked for a security code. For more info about verifying your identity, see Two-step verification: FAQ.

  3. When you're asked about how you want to set up your PC, choose the name of your previous PC.

    As your new PC continues to set up, you’ll get the settings that were backed up for your previous PC.

  4. When your new PC is ready to use, plug in the eternal drive or connect to the network drive that you used for File History on your previous PC.

    The personal files you backed up with File Hisotry on your previous PC will be automatically restored to your new PC. This could take a while depending on how many versions of backed up files you have.

    To check if File History has finished restoring files to your PC

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
      (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

    2. Tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click File History.

      You’ll see the restore progress under Restoring files on this PC.

    3. If you don't want to finish restoring the remaining files, tap or click Stop restoring files.

Preparing your PC for the unexpected

It's a worthwhile investment to get your PC ready in case it gets lost or damaged. Here's how to make sure the PC you're using now is set up so you can make a newer PC like it later.

  1. Use your Microsoft account.

    This is required because your settings and services are all connected through your Microsoft account. To learn more about Microsoft accounts, see Microsoft accounts.

  2. Save your files to OneDrive.

    Make sure your OneDrive has all the files you want on it, and if your PC has a camera, make sure copies of the photos you take will be saved to OneDrive automatically.

    Open the OneDrive app to check which files are on your OneDrive.

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    To move files from your PC to OneDrive

    When you move files to OneDrive, you don't keep separate copies of them on your PC. They're stored only on OneDrive.

    In File Explorer, you can drag files from your PC to OneDrive. To move files to OneDrive using the OneDrive app, follow these steps.

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
      (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

    2. Enter File Explorer in the search box, and then tap or click File Explorer.

    3. Tap or click the arrow next to OneDrive, and then tap or click This PC to browse the files on your PC.

    4. Swipe down on or right-click the files you want to move to OneDrive.

    5. Tap or click Cut.

    6. Browse to a folder on OneDrive.

    7. Swipe in from the top or bottom edge of the screen or right-click to open the app commands, and then tap or click Paste.

    To check that you’re saving copies of the photos in your camera roll to OneDrive

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
      (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

    2. Tap or click OneDrive.

    3. On the Camera roll tab, tap or click Upload photos at good quality or Upload photos at best quality.

  3. Back up the PC settings that are unique to your PC. For more info, see Sync settings between PCs.

    You can sync settings between your PCs so that they’re the same whenever you sign in with your Microsoft account. Some PC settings don’t sync, and you might choose not to sync other settings. So it’s important to back up any settings that aren't synced.

    To check that your settings are backed up

    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
      (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

    2. Tap or click OneDrive.

    3. On the Sync settings tab, scroll down to the bottom and make sure Back up settings is turned on.

  4. Back up files stored on your PC with File History.

    Use File History to back up versions of the files you keep in the Pictures, Music, Videos, Documents, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC. File History isn’t turned on by default. To set up and turn it on, see Set up a drive for File History.

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