OneDrive for Business – Version History

Understanding the OneDrive version history feature can prevent uncertainty around data loss when working on files, or avoid spending unnecessary amounts of time trying to undo or fix formatting and content issues. Often a simple few clicks can restore the file to a previous version/point in time which will result in the same or better outcome.

Anyone old enough to remember not having the luxury of automatically retained file versions (in any form) as you work on them will recollect the pain of losing a file and its contents completely and having to start over.

The key points around OneDrive for Business version history are –

  • The default setting allows a minimum of 100 versions of a file to be retained, and a maximum of 50,000.
  • Version history is enabled by default in all tenants. No additional configuration is required on the tenant from an administrative perspective for users to have this capability.
  • Applies to files outside of the Office file types, such as PDF, photo and video files.
  • New versions are created at the point of edit and save and periodically over time based on how much the file changes.
  • Restores are initiated by the user. An administrator does not need to initiate the restore.

To restore a file to a previous version, follow the steps below –

  • Right click the file in question located in a OneDrive location, and select ‘OneDrive’ and ‘Version history’ –
  • Locate the version of the file to restore –
  • Use either the ‘Restore’ option to restore the version of the file, or optionally view the file by using the ‘Download’ option to ensure that it is the correct version prior to restore –

For those files with more changes, expect a longer version history (screenshot from SharePoint) –

This demonstrates the frequency of file version creation depending on how much the file changes in a given time as opposed to a standardised ‘save every 10 minutes’ type method.

Since Teams files are also located in SharePoint sites, this is also applicable to those locations. To restore previous versions of files from Teams sites, complete the following –

  • Locate the Teams channel and select the ‘Files’ tab
  • Select ‘Open in SharePoint’ from the top ribbon
  • Locate the file needing to be restored and open further options by selecting the ellipsis –
  • Select ‘Version history’ to view –
  • View and/or restore the required file version –

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