OneDrive Saved me with cloud Document Version History

I just had a terrifying experience, but thanks to OneDrive’s built in Version History, it was short lived.  I have a very large document I am working on.  I have this document saved in a folder that is synced to my OneDrive account. I opened up Word tonight to work on it and it said upload failed do you want to keep local version or server version.  I figured that if it was the upload that failed, it meant my local copy was the updated one and since nothing got uploaded to the server, that the server was the old one, so I said Keep local copy.  In actuality the opposite was true. The version in OneDrive was the correct one and the local one was the old one.  I have no idea how or why that would be the case, and it baffles me, but it is what it is. When I got the document opened, I noticed that I was missing a chapter of this work that I has spend most of yesterday working on.  I freaked out.

I tried to hit Undo in Word, but it doesn’t know how to Undo stuff it does on it’s own.  It can undo things that you do, but it can’t undo things that it does like wiping out an entire chapter because it can’t tell the difference between upload failing and sync failing and doesn’t bother to tell you which version has the most recent time-stamp. But I digress…

I thought I could kill word and go to and get that copy before Word synced it’s nefarious chapter eating version to the cloud.  No good. The OneDrive copy was already corrupted.  After a few explicatives I thought, Ah Ha! I can use the File History Settings in Windows 8 to recover the previous version of the file. Cool so I went and hit the Windows key and type File History it came up and I hit Enter only to find it wasn’t enabled.  Needless to say at this point I was starting to become shall we say, less than enamored with the situation.  I turned on File History and let it start indexing.

So…. I thought I was screwed.  I went back to OneDrive and figured I had nothing to lose so let’s see if it was smart enough to keep an automatic file version just like SQL DB does in Microsoft Azure.  With that, you can go back to any five minute period in time for the past seven days for basic tier and the past 35 days for Premium databases and get a fully restored version of the DB to that5 minute window in time.  That would be an awesome thing to have in a cloud storage system.

I dubiously right clicked on the file in OneDrive and Shazam! there it was on the context menu, Version History


I clicked on it hoping against hope that it would work and give me actual previous versions and was met with this


After clicking on the previous older version I was greeted with.


Yes, OneDrive not only keeps backups of your documents for you, but you can restore to those versions or even download them.  You don’t even have to set it up, it does it automatically!  OneDrive saved me from Myself, and MS Word!

Comments (16)
  1. jim says:

    Try git

  2. RockyH says:

    Hi Jim,

    I would have but it wouldn't have done anything differently except add an extra step for me to check in the document.  Automatic cloud backup is more efficient and the built in versioning did the trick without me having to set up Git or anything else. I do use Git for source code on some projects though.

  3. Ake says:

    This only Works for some Office document formats, unfortunately. I'm trying to help a user With a OneNote document on OneDrive, With no luck. Dropbox has this for all files, and less sync issues to boot.

  4. Victor says:

    Just had a similar experience, but all by my own fault. I emptied a document to use it as template, and saved instead of save as. It was a big spreadsheet.

    luckily in the version history the most recent copy was complete up until the very last changes. excellent feature

  5. Leonie says:

    You totally just saved my life…and my son's homework…THANK YOU!!!!

  6. RockyH says:

    No worries. Comments like that make it all worth it.

  7. Valentina says:


  8. Kath says:

    i have just ;lost ten pages of psychology notes that i need for this reason.

    I literally want to cry. But i am running windows 7 not 8.

    Which one do I open/keep? My version or server version. I am stressing my ass off here, and would really love an answer. 8(



  9. RockyH says:

    Hey Kath

    If you have been saving your notes in OneDrive, you can go to right click on your notes file. You can then select Version History. Pick the one that is just before you lost them, and then open it in the web browser. If that is the one you want download that file.  It doesn't matter if you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8 as long as you have been saving the files to OneDrive. Have a look.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A big Thank you!  I was beside myself today once I lost my work – I had to laugh reading your blog – I totally went through the same emotions.  I am good to go now, thanks to your help!!

  11. racecar56 says:

    It's a shame that OneDrive doesn't have version history for text files. You'd think it'd have it, if they can support the more complicated MS Office formats, but no. Ah well.

  12. GWC says:

    It didn't workl for me in excel. Hate this problems with OneDrive. I don't have such problems with dopbox.!!!

  13. Ashley D says:

    Thank you thank you thank you xinfinity for this. 15 minutes ago I was almost to the point of angry tears and ready to take a sledgehammer to everything due to this awful, confusing mistake. Having tried restoring all possible ways I knew of I had just about lost hope. Had I not found this solution I don't know that I would have had to will to continue this project with the enthusiasm I previously held. Again, thank you!

  14. Travis says:

    Years later and this blog post is still saving people!!!  Just recovered a weekends worth of work after a sync fail and accidently hitting save "My Version".

    Thank You!

  15. Tolu says:


    I can't thank you enough. Thanks for putting this up. You just saved me a lot of stress.

  16. Dan says:

    Awesome. Thank you so much for the tip this has happened to me multiple times and I usually just accept it but this time I could not let it happen. So thank you. you have saved me 2 hours worth of unusually exceptional work

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