How To Recover Deleted or Overwritten Files/Folders In Your SkyDrive/OneDrive Account

SkyDrive Logo

Please note that Microsoft renamed SkyDrive to OneDrive on February 19th 2014.

I use Cloud Storage services quite a bit for my day-to-day needs as I like how I am able to make sure that all my data stored is correctly synced between my various devices. That said, I also know just how easy it can be to accidentally delete a required file/folder or to overwrite something that you have spent quite a bit of time writing. So with this in mind, we will be looking at how you can get back any accidentally deleted or overwritten files from your Microsoft SkyDrive account.

One thing to note regarding the data retention policies in regards Microsoft SkyDrive when dealing with deleted or overwritten files. Any deleted files will be kept in the Recycled Bin for a total of 30 days (minimum of 3 days) after which they will be permanently deleted started with the oldest ones first. However, if the Recycled Bin reaches 10% of the total amount of space available in the users account, (eg. 0.7GB of a total of 7GB given to free users) then the data will start to be deleted regardless of how long it has been in the Recycled Bin starting with the oldest. Data stored in the Recycled Bin does not count against the users data quota.

Please note that for this article I will be using the Desktop version of SkyDrive, so the GUI may look slightly different for some users. Also, whenever you delete a file or folder, you will get a small window of approximately 10 seconds in which to undo the delete. Also, Version History will only work on Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel,PowerPoint, and OneNote)

10 second delete reminder

Recovering a deleted file or folder:

Step 1

Login to your SkyDrive account

Step 2

Look to the bottom left of your window and click on Recycled Bin to see which files can be recovered.

Main Window

Step 3

Select the file that you would like to recover from the bin. Right-click on the file and select Restore. This will then be placed back to its original location.

Restore Deleted File

That’s it for recovering a deleted file.

How to recover a file that may have been overwritten/edited?

Step 1

Login to your SkyDrive account

Step 2

Open the folder where the overwritten file is located. Now right click on the file and select Version History.

right click and version history

Step 3

After you have selected Version History, you will hopefully be able to see all the revision histories from the past 30 days that relate to the document in question.

Select version history

You can check to see which each version looks like by select each of the dates in-turn. You can also download each version as well.

save the overwritten file

Step 4

Once you have decided which version is the correct one that you would like to revert back to, simply hit Restore and that version will be rolled-back.

That’s it, you’re done.

  • John T

    I don’t have “Version History” in the right-click menu which was a bit disappointing when I overwrote a file… There’s no menu option between CopyTo and Properties.

    Documents were created/saved to SkyDrive on a Windows 7 PC in Visio2013(Trial). I now have the local SkyDrive application installed and very regular backups to help with getting access to previous versions of files but SkyDrive should do the versioning for me. Does version history only work with Office2013 (ie. Word & Excel)?

    Does anyone know why I can’t use version history on a basic SkyDrive account with Visio2013?

    • Richard Gailey

      Hi John,

      I tested this using a file written using Word 2007 directly via my desktop, which I then uploaded to my SkyDrive account. I then made multiple changes to the document (re-uploading on each edit) to check that this does work.

      Have you tried logging in online to your SkyDrive account rather than the installed (local) client version?

      Also, if you are viewing the file from within the local client (the SkyDrive desktop app) can you right-click on it (without actually opening the file itself) and go SkyDrive>View on This should then take you to the online version of the file. From there you go File>Previous Versions. This should then present you with any previous versions of the file that it has.

      I can’t think of any reason as to why you are unable to find a previous version of your document. I have not used Viso2013 before, so am unable to give any advice on that.

      Below is a link to the SkyDrive support forums that may be able to assist you:

  • steve

    OMFG!!! so glad I looked this up and so glad you wrote the piece!!

    • Richard Gailey

      Glad it helped Steve

      • Mark

        Seriously, this just saved me 3 days of work I would have had to redo. Why doesn’t Microsoft have this kind of information handily available and easy to find?

      • Richard Gailey

        Hi Mark, glad it helped and saved you some work.

  • Pingback: Not happy, Microsoft | A novel idea()

  • Santiago

    thank you!!! saved my attendance records for the whole semester! thank you thank you thank you!

  • RH

    A BIG thanks – I was able to recover a final test I’ve been working on for about the last 12 hours and then it was gone! I recovered it via Version History.

  • gladiator24_7


    I almost lost my drug notecards for school which I’ve been working on for weeks.

    • Richard Gailey

      @gladiator24_7:disqus Ha, nice. Glad to have helped.

  • anon

    Thanks a lot for this thought I’d lost my coursework

  • Mondy

    thanks it helped!

  • Tyanna Dallaire


    • Richard Gailey

      You’re welcome @tyannadallaire:disqus. Glad it helped :-)

  • pic1

    my document just disappeared without deleting it. It’s no longer in among the recent files nor is it in the recycle bin. when I click file from another document, it is stilled listed on the recent list of documents to open but it won’t open instead this message is displayed:

    “This item might not exist or is no longer available

    This item might have been deleted, expired or you might not have permission to view it. Contact the owner of this item for more information.”

    • Jake Fox

      pic1- I had the same problem. My recycling bin must have been full and this almost scared me into buying more storage to see if my document would come in. As a broke college student I solved this issue without having to buy more storage.

      Here’s what you need to do to recover your file or another version of it prior to its “deletion, expiration, or restricted access” or other words corruption.

      First get into your documents on the online skydrive, I usually click on onedrive at the top and then click on documents to get here.

      Then right click on the document and click on the option version history. (You will need to close this word doc if you currently have it open prior to hitting restore which will give you back your work. =)

      Hope this helps. I thought I hit a dead end when I could not find it in my recycling bin. I was happy to find out that was not the case and wanted to share my triumph with you!

  • josh

    I genuinely love you man!!

  • ziplock9000

    Version history only works with Office documents I think. It certainly is not working with my PSD files.

    • Richard Gailey

      Hi ziplock9000,

      Yep, SkyDrive/OneDrive only works with Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel,PowerPoint, and OneNote)

      You should be able to find previous versions of the file though if you are also backing up using DropBox as it has a similar feature (Previous Versions)

      Sorry I couldn’t help.

  • Jon

    The “version history” steps were exactly what I was looking for, thank you!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so, so much….you don’t understand how helpful this was. You’re racking up super karma here, dude.

    • thegift73

      Thank you. Glad it was of help to you :-)

  • Anonymous


  • Ian Anderson

    Looks like there is a theme to these comments lol! And yes “Thank you!” from me too!

    I really thought I’d bought the farm this time. For some baffling reason I must have been editing a backup copy and overwrote part of a book, ‘lost’ about a weeks work and for some reason file history hadn’t done anything since Christmas day?

    I am going to really go over by backups system right now, don’t ever want to go through this again.

    Shared this everywhere I can think of:

    Version history on onedrive, who knew? (well, you obviously lol!)

    You’re a star, seriously. That enough? I could go on, although it might just be the effect of the endorphins released by the huge relief, ya know….. :-)

    • thegift73

      Ha! You’re welcome Ian. Glad it helped you out, and thanks for the kind words.

  • Mike Sugiyama Jones

    Thanks for this – it saved me a ton of work!

  • Michael Alford

    My file is not in the version history. Yesterday I opened my file while the network was disconnected. A message appeared at the top that said “offline copy” and there was a button to enable editing. I clicked it and made my needed changes, connected to the network, and let it upload the changes.

    Today when I opened the file again, it informed me that there was a conflict, and did I want to keep my copy or the online copy. Thinking my changes has just never uploaded, I clicked my copy. Wrong choice.

    It sucks that when I made changes on my computer, it apparently made them to a copy instead of the real local file. Then it uploaded those changes without ever making the changes to my real local file. This morning when I opened the real local file, The online copy reverted to that unchanged version.

    Anyone happen to know where I will find the local “offline copy” that my changes were made to? :(

    • thegift73

      Hi Michael, I will try to help you out if I can. When you were writing your document on your computer, which format were you working in? Was it a Word file, and if so which version of Word were you using (2003/2007/2010 etc)

      I’m also guessing that you are using a Windows based PC? I really don’t know that much about Mac OSX.

      Can you try right-clicking on the unopened file and selecting Properties. Then select the tab, Previous Versions. It may have stored a history of the document locally for you?

  • Anonymous

    I go to version history but there is no time stamps on the side even when it was modified 3 hours agos

  • Drew Guyment

    I got to previous versions but there were no time stamps even after being modified 3 hours ago

  • Guest

    Or you can look in the recycle bin, to retrieve the file.

  • susan

    Was pleased with purchase and subsequent customer service contact. First time purchasing OEM software, was definitely worth it.

  • BeckyA

    I almost gave up on recovering my xls that didn’t upload changes to OneDrive. I couldn’t find either Recycle Bin or Version History on my Win 8.1 OneDrive. Then I remembered how I used to access it via Hotmail. Sure enough, when I did that, I found the unsaved changes under Version History. Thanks

  • Steinar Hovi

    Thank you so much! I only lost one evening of work, but it was the final polish on my Masters thesis and I’m handing it in tomorrow and I really am fed up with this sh*t. Not having to redo those 5 hours saved my wife’s day!!!

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