How To Restore Files with Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive is a cloud storage service developed by Microsoft for file storage and sharing. Although OneDrive is a highly reliable cloud storage service, sometimes files stored on OneDrive can be corrupted or deleted, or unwanted changes can be saved to them. In such situations, users must be able to recover the needed files. Fortunately, OneDrive provides a built-in feature that can help users restore files to a previous date and time. This blog post explains how to restore OneDrive files to previous versions for Office 365 users.

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How to Restore OneDrive Files to a Previous Version?

Let’s look at how you can restore previous versions of files stored on OneDrive.

  1. Log in to Office 365 by using your Microsoft account. In this example, I’m using a Microsoft 365 account for organizations.
  2. Click OneDrive in the list of Microsoft Office 365 online apps.Selecting-OneDrive-in-the-web-interface-of-Microsoft-Office-365
  3. Open My files and go to the folder with the file that you want to restore to a previous version. In this example, I’m restoring docum1.docx to a previous version after unwanted changes were written to the file. The file size of docum1.docx is 11.0 KB. Version history is available for all file types.
  4. Right click the file and, in the context, menu click Version history.

    Note: File versioning must be turned on by the Office 365 administrator.Viewing-version-history-to-restore-OneDrive-files

  5. In the window that opens, all available versions of the file are displayed with information about the modified date, the user who modified the file, and the file size. Select the file version that you want to restore, right click the needed file version, and, in the context menu, click Restore.In this example, I want to restore version 4.0 of our docum1.docx file (modified 23 minutes ago). As you can see on the screenshot below, there are 5 major versions of the file that can be restored. After restoring the needed file version, the current file version becomes a previous version.OneDrive-restore-previous-version
  6. After clicking the Restore button, version 4.0 of our file is restored to version 6.0 and the original version 4.0 is preserved. You can right click the restored version and open the file (the supported version of Microsoft Word must be installed on your computer in this case). The file size of version 4.0 is the same as the file size of version 6.0.OneDrive-restore-using-version-history
  7. Go back to the list of files stored on OneDrive and click the file you have restored to the needed version. A selected docx file opens in Microsoft Word Online in a new tab of your web browser. The file is restored to the needed version and you can continue working with this file. The ability to restore previous versions is preserved after the current file restore operation is completed.Restore-OneDrive-files-to-a-previous-version

Restoring Files Using the OneDrive Desktop Client

You can also restore previous versions of files on Windows machines on which the OneDrive desktop application is installed. Files can be restored directly in Windows Explorer by using the Version History option that is available in the newest versions of Windows and OneDrive.

  1. Open the OneDrive folder in Windows Explorer and find a file that must be restored to a previous version.
  2. Right click the file and, in the context menu, click Version History.
  3. In the version history list, select the needed file version, click the three dots, and click Restore.

    Note: You cannot restore multiple files simultaneously to earlier versions.

Restoring Files Using Office 365 Applications

You can open Office documents stored on OneDrive in Office 365 online apps, such as Word Online, Excel Online, and PowerPoint Online by using a web browser. You can view changes and open the needed file version in these apps.

In order to check available versions of a document, open the document stored on OneDrive in the associated application (for example, open a doc or docx file in Word Online, xlsx in Excel Online, and so on).

Then go to File > Info > Version History. On the screenshot below you can see this menu in Microsoft Word Online.


In our example, a document opens in Word Online in a web browser. In the right pane, you can select the needed file version and switch to the needed version. Changes are marked in the document in the main working area of the window. You can click Save a copy or Restore (the Restore button is not displayed for the latest version of the file).


How to Restore OneDrive

It is also possible to restore the whole OneDrive. This can be useful if most of the files are corrupted or deleted.

Open your OneDrive page in a web browser. In the top right corner, click the Settings icon and, in the Settings menu, click Restore your OneDrive.


The Restore OneDrive page opens. Select a date to which you want to restore OneDrive in the drop-down menu:

  • Yesterday
  • One week ago
  • Three weeks ago
  • Custom date and time

Below you can see a chart to detect the maximum activity in writing data to OneDrive and a slider to select the needed date for recovery.


Under the chart you should select the changes that you want to undo. Users, who wrote changes to the files, and the time of the change are displayed.


When the needed state to restore is selected, click the Restore button.

How long can a user recover files if deleted in a personal OneDrive account?

Older versions of a file are stored for 30 days on OneDrive and can be recovered during this 30-day period. If a personal OneDrive account is used, users can restore OneDrive versions and it is possible to restore 25 file versions. The number of versions that can be recovered depends on the library configuration for Office 365 accounts for organizations. The maximum retention period for storing deleted files in the Recycle bin before they are deleted permanently is 93 days for Office 365 accounts for organizations. This period can be configured to a smaller value by Office 365 administrators. The deleted items are retained for a minimum of three days in the Recycle bin.

How to Restore OneDrive Files that Were Deleted?

When you delete a file on OneDrive, the file is deleted on all devices because synchronization between local storage of devices and cloud storage is enabled (when an internet connection is available). That’s why you may not be able to restore deleted files from the OneDrive folder on another device. Deleted files can be restored from the Recycle bin in the web interface of OneDrive.

In order to restore deleted files from the OneDrive Recycle bin, open the OneDrive page in a web browser. In the left pane of the window, click Recycle bin. A list of deleted files with information about deletion time, user name, and original location is displayed. Select the files and folders that you want to recover and hit the Restore button.


How to Restore Exceeded Microsoft OneDrive

When your storage limit on OneDrive is exceeded, your OneDrive account is frozen. You can fix this issue using two methods.

Buy more storage by paying for a subscription plan that provides more storage space. After paying for a new subscription, it may take up to 24 hours to activate a subscription plan and unfreeze your OneDrive account.

Delete some files to free up storage space on OneDrive. Open the web interface of OneDrive to sign in, enter credentials, and select Unfreeze your account to temporarily access your files. After that, your files on OneDrive are read-only until you clean disk space. You have 30 days to delete some files to unblock your frozen OneDrive. Delete unneeded files. Important files can be downloaded to a local disk and then you can delete them. If you don’t clean storage space on OneDrive within 30 days, your OneDrive account will be frozen again without the ability to use the unfreeze option. In this case, you can only send a request to the Microsoft support team.

If you don’t access your OneDrive account within one year, your OneDrive account will be frozen even if you use other Office 365 services. In order to prevent freezing, you should sign in to the web interface of OneDrive at least once a year or be active in OneDrive with the OneDrive desktop client. Keep an eye on used storage space on OneDrive to prevent exceeding the storage limit and freezing your account. If folders on your computer are synchronized with OneDrive, uncheck some large folders to prevent them from being synchronized.


This blog post has explained how to restore exceeded Microsoft OneDrive and how to restore OneDrive files to previous versions. There are native options to restore OneDrive files that were edited or deleted. The number of versions that can be restored with the built-in capabilities of OneDrive is limited. If you want to have more options to restore OneDrive files, use dedicated backup software and back up Microsoft Office data, including OneDrive storage. NAKIVO Backup & Replication is a universal data protection solution that can back up data on local servers and in the cloud.

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