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How to restore older file versions on OneDrive

OneDrive is bundled in Windows 10. You don’t have to use it but unless you uninstall it, it will constantly ask you to sign in. It will run at start up and it may even drag down your CPU though that only happens if OneDrive is buggy. If you use the service, you should know that it has version control. This version control works outside the version control/file history feature that Windows 10 has. Here’s how you can restore older file versions on OneDrive.

File versions on OneDrive

To access older versions of files on OneDrive, you need to visit OneDrive in your web browser. The UI doesn’t indicate which files have older versions available. Right-click a file, and select Version History from the context menu.

This will open the file in a new tab and list the older versions of it that are available in the column on the left.

Select the version that you want to restore. You can restore to an older version or you can download an older version. There’s no option to compare the files or highlight the differences between them.

If you want, you can also save one of the versions as a separate file to your OneDrive. To do that, open the version that you want to save, and at the top right, you will see an option called ‘Save to OneDrive’. Click it and select where you want to save it.

OneDrive can save older versions of files for a long, long time. It has versions of files I saved back in 2015. With other cloud drives, older file versions aren’t kept for very long if you’re on a free plan. Dropbox keeps them for thirty days which makes a pretty good case for using it to keep track of older versions of your files.

The online version of OneDrive can open older versions of some files like DOCX or XLSX files however, in some cases older versions of the file may not open in your browser when you click them. This doesn’t mean your file is corrupt. If OneDrive is ever unable to open a file and/or it generates an error, you should download the file to your desktop and try opening it there.

OneDrive has its bugs and those bugs aren’t just limited to the desktop app. The web version will occasionally run into trouble too but it’s rare for files to be corrupted as a result.

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