Perhaps you’ve made some changes to a file that weren’t supposed to be made. If you have the file open, sometimes you can undo what you’ve done until you reach a point where the file is back to its original state. But, if you closed it already, there’s no way to do that.
Instead, you must restore the file to a previous version. This can be tricky sometimes, but it’s definitely possible. This article will cover what you need to know about restoring previous versions of files and folders.
Methods to Restore Previous Versions of a File or Folder
There are multiple avenues you can explore to revert a file to a previous version. Try each method below until you successfully revert your file or folder.
Restore Using File History
File History is a backup utility included with Windows that’s great for restoring old files. When enabled, it takes regular snapshots of specified files and folders, allowing you to not only restore them if they’re deleted but also restore a specific version of said file or folder.
File History is available on Windows 10 and Windows 11. Below we’ll cover how to restore a file to a previous version on both versions of Windows.
Restore From a Cloud Backup
Cloud solutions, like OneDrive, may contain a record of the changes you’ve made to your files. If they’re backed up, OneDrive automatically takes snapshots of your files when they’re saved, allowing you to revert to a previous version.
The below steps will cover restoring previous versions of a OneDrive-synced file or folder.
Restore From the Temp Folder
Every Windows installation comes with a temp folder by default. This folder is used by Windows, as well as installed applications, to store temporary files that are necessary for them to function properly. Microsoft 365 also includes a temp folder for unsaved files, allowing for easier recovery of Excel files and other 365 products
If you were using a program when it suddenly crashed and you’re trying to restore the unsaved copy of the file, there’s a chance that it can be found here. Once the temporary file is found, it can be opened with the application you were using it with.
Follow these steps to restore the previous version of a file from the temp folder.
Restore Using Data Recovery Software
You can restore an old file using data recovery software if it was located in a folder but has since been lost or deleted. Data recovery tools like Disk Drill use advanced algorithms that scan your drive for traces of data and present them to you with an indication of their recoverability (which decreases with time and hard drive use).
Follow these instructions to recover data using Disk Drill.
You’re given a small opportunity to revert Windows to previous versions following an upgrade. Doing so will keep your personal files, but remove any installed apps, settings changes, and drivers that were added since the upgrade. Follow these steps to do so:
- Press Windows Key + I then click Update & Security.
- Click Recovery.
- Click Get started under Go back to the previous version of Windows 10.
The restore previous versions option allows you to access previous versions that have been saved by File History or apps like OneDrive and restore that version of the file. This action will update the contents of the file with that of what was saved in the version.
Word includes its over version history tracking feature. Microsoft 365 is a requirement, as Word only saves version history when the files are saved to OneDrive. Follow these steps to restore a previous version of a Word document:
- Open the latest version of the Word document.
- At the top of the window, click on the name of your file, then click Version History.
- Select the version you want to restore, then click Open version.