Rediscovering Lost Data: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Restore Previous Versions of Excel

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In the fast-paced world of data management, accidental edits or deletions can occur, leading to the loss of crucial information. Excel, a ubiquitous tool in the business and academic realms, is not immune to such mishaps. The good news is that Microsoft Excel offers robust features that allow users to restore previous versions effortlessly.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods to recover lost data, ensuring you never lose sleep over an inadvertent click again. Let’s find an answer to how to restore previous version of Excel.

1-Autosave and AutoRecover Features

Excel is equipped with built-in safety nets in the form of Autosave and AutoRecover features. Autosave automatically saves your work at specified intervals, while AutoRecover creates backup copies of your file in case of a system crash or unexpected shutdown.

To access these features:                                                                 

  • Open Excel and go to the “File” tab.
  • Select “Options” and navigate to the “Save” category.
  • Check the “Save AutoRecover information every X minutes” box and set the desired interval.

If Excel crashes or your system unexpectedly shuts down, the next time you open Excel, it will attempt to recover any unsaved files. You can find them under the “Document Recovery” pane on the left side of the screen.

2-Windows File History

Windows File History is an often overlooked gem that automatically backs up files in your Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders. By default, this feature is turned off, so enabling it is the first step.

To set up Windows File History:

  • Open the Control Panel and navigate to “File History.”
  • Click “Turn on” to activate File History.

Now, whenever you save changes to your Excel file, Windows File History creates a backup. To restore a previous version:

  • Right-click on the file and select “Restore previous versions.”
  • A list of available versions will appear. Choose the one you want and click “Restore.”

3-OneDrive Version History

If you use OneDrive to store your Excel files, you’re in luck. OneDrive comes with a built-in version history feature that allows you to revert to previous versions effortlessly.

To use OneDrive Version History:

  • Open OneDrive in your browser.
  • Navigate to the folder containing your Excel file.
  • Right-click on the file and select “Version history.”

A panel will appear, displaying all versions of the file. You can preview each version and restore the one you need.

4-Excel’s Manual Versioning

Beyond automated features, Excel also offers a manual approach to versioning your files. By saving multiple versions of your file, you create a personal archive, making it easy to backtrack if needed.

To manually create versions:

  • Before making significant changes, save the current file with a distinctive name or version number (e.g., “Project_Sheet_V1”).
  • After each major update, repeat the process with an incremented version number.

This method provides a granular approach to versioning, allowing you to restore specific milestones in your Excel file’s development.

5-Windows Previous Versions

Windows Previous Versions is another Windows feature that creates snapshots of files at specific points in time. This is especially useful if you don’t have File History enabled.

To access Windows Previous Versions:

  • Right-click on the folder containing your Excel file.
  • Select “Restore previous versions.”

A list of available versions will appear, and you can choose the one you want to restore.


Whether you rely on Autosave, AutoRecover, Windows File History, OneDrive Version History, manual versioning, or Windows Previous Versions, there’s a solution tailored to your needs.

Remember, the key to stress-free Excel usage is proactive file management. Embrace these features, make them a part of your routine, and never fear the “Undo” button again.

In the dynamic landscape of digital productivity, mastering the art of data restoration ensures that your Excel files remain resilient against the unpredictability of the digital realm. Happy spreadsheeting!

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