SharePoint allows its users to collaborate on documents and have autosave enabled by default. These features have also caused people to worry about losing previously written data either due to someone else saving over their work, or doing it themselves without realizing. Naturally there is a fix for that with the ease of access to version history and a simple click to restore previous versions.
Prerequisite: Update Permissions
Each SharePoint site should have its own unique set of permissions. These can dictate users’ level of access and ability to make changes. If you follow the steps below and do not see the version history and the option to restore a previous version, talk to your SharePoint administrator to enable these functions or to restore the version you need for you.
Viewing Version History
- Start by navigating to the SharePoint site and folder where your document is located.
- From there, click the checkbox for the document you want and then click the options (the dot, dot dot).
- This will open up a long menu. A few from the bottom will be Version History.
- Once you click version history, the previous versions will be visible.
Restoring a Previous Version
- From the version history window, you can restore a previous version of the document.
- Click the dropdown arrow from your desired date and time. Not sure which to pick? Click view first to get more details.
- After clicking restore, a window will pop up letting you know you are replacing the current version and asking if you want to proceed. Select yes.
- Your selected version will now be the “current version”, and the most recent current version will be available as the most recent previous version.
Caveats to Versioning
- Versions are not permanent. As you make more changes and produce more versions over time, SharePoint will consolidate some of these. For example, you may have 5 versions from 10/2/2019 from when you first created the document, but after a year they may be consolidated into just one version from that date.
- DO NOT rely on version history to keep a document you want to refer back to. Instead, save a copy and rename indicating why you kept it (such as “template” or “2016 version”).
- There isn’t currently a way to make a copy of a previous version. The workaround would be to save a copy of the current version before restoring the previous version you want. Then, rename either or both documents to illustrate which is current and which is a previous version.
- It is important that you use version history as a mistake correction or as a potential backup option, not as a place to restore versions for future use.
If you work in SharePoint often, you’ll experience some of the benefits and complications of collaboration. Fortunately, features like version history and restoring previous versions mitigate or eliminate the majority of those complications. Check out more SharePoint tips in our knowledgebase including syncing Sharepoint, sharing from Outlook and more.
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