Version History in OneDrive

hand possibly moving clock hand backwards

Since the end of 2022, OneDrive has supported version history for all file types

Previously, only Microsoft Offices files (eg Word documents and spreadsheets) retained earlier versions in OneDrive.

My experience of Microsoft’s cloud storage facility – OneDrive – is that it is a bit of a curate’s egg. The basic idea of automatically backing up your precious data files to the cloud is a very good idea. However, if the service is completely overwhelmed by constantly trying – and failing – to upload large, updated, video files, then it’s possible that you could give up on the idea altogether (but a better idea would be to store the large files out of OneDrive’s reach and find a different way of backing them up).

OneDrive can also be very confusing if you include your Windows “desktop” in the backup but have more than one computer using that OneDrive account.

However, putting my own reservations aside, one thing that has definitely improved its usefulness is that, since the end of 2022, all data files have different versions saved.

What is Version History?

Undo key, go back in time with OneDrive version historySuppose you have a large Word file that you work on often and that you automatically save to OneDrive. If you look in your OneDrive folder on your computer you will just see the latest version of the file. That is perfectly normal.

Now suppose that you realise with a sinking feeling that you’ve accidentally deleted a big chunk of the document and that if you close the file without saving changes and then re-open it, the chunk is still missing. This means that the missing chunk was deleted during an earlier version and, unless you’ve got an older backup somewhere else, the missing chunk has now gone to data heaven.

Version history means that OneDrive automatically keeps previous versions so that you can return to one if necessary. This can be invaluable (says he from personal experience).

Accessing earlier versions

Clipart reperesenting lots of different versions of a data fileTo access earlier versions, you can right-click on the file in File Explorer if you use the OneDrive app. Then select “version history”. Alternatively, you can log onto your OneDrive in the cloud, select the file, and then click on “version history” to select an earlier version. OneDrive will automatically keep up to the most recent 25 versions of a file if you have a personal account. The business version will retain a huge, configurable, number of backup versions. There is also a limitation in the personal version in that OneDrive only keeps previous versions for 30 days.

All Microsoft accounts include a free OneDrive quota of 5gb of data storage. The Microsoft 365 Personal account has a generous 1tb (1000gb) and with the Family version, each of the six users has their own 1tb of OneDrive storage.

Despite it being an obvious question, I have been unable to find a definitive answer as to whether previous versions of data files count against your data quota.

For further information, see these Microsoft pages:

Expanding OneDrive version history

Restoring previous versions of a data file

Microsoft 365 Personal and Home

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