Rescue documents with OneDrive previous versions


Do you use Microsoft OneDrive to create and store documents like Word files? Whether you use Word on your computer and save files to the OneDrive folder on the PC’s disk drive, or use the free web apps at to create files online, there is a facility to rescue bad documents.

Here is the scenario: You are working on a long and complicated document that takes hours or even days to complete. You get part way through it and decide that it is going in the wrong direction. An earlier version was better. Perhaps you finished it, made some changes and saved the file, then afterwards realised that the changes either were not needed or they were not helpful.

Another situation is where you are editing a document, perhaps someone else’s, you make some changes, but then decide the original was better.

In this situation, it can be useful to be able to return to a previous version of a document. The question is, how to do it.

It helps if you think ahead and instead of saving a document and overwriting the original with the changed version, you should save it with a new name. Such as report1.doc, and when more changes are made, name it report2.doc, and so on. That way you have previous versions you can go back to.

We all know we should do this, but we rarely do what we should. We tend to just edit documents and save them when we are done.

So what can be done if you have edited a document and overwritten the original? This is where OneDrive’s previous versions is useful. It automatically saves versions of the file for you and it enables you to return to one of those versions.

Open a web browser and go to or go to, click the arrow next to the logo in the top left corner and select OneDrive. Select a file using the tick box to the left of the name, go to the Manage menu and select Version history.

 Select a file on OneDrive

The current version is listed along with the date and time it was created. Below this is a list of older versions. There may be none or half a dozen and it depends on how often you have edited the file and made changes.

If you select a previous version by clicking on the date, there are options to restore it or download it. If you restore it, it will become the current version. A better alternative is to download it and then you have the current version online and the previous version on your PC.

 Select a previous version on OneDrive

If you download it, you can always rename it and out it back on OneDrive by dragging the file from an Explorer window and dropping it on the browser window – OneDrive supports drag and drop uploading of files.

Linux users

This works for Linux just as for Windows PCs. The only difference is that Windows 7/8 users have a OneDrive app on the computer to mirror a folder on the disk with the online storage. Linux users can still use OneDrive online storage, create documents with Microsoft web apps and access previous versions of files.

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