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Previous versions of files: frequently asked
questions
Here are answers to some common questions about previous versions of files and folders.

What are previous versions?
Previous versions are either copies of files and folders created by Windows Backup or copies of
files and folders that Windows automatically saves as part of a restore point. You can use
previous versions to restore files and folders that you accidentally modified or deleted, or that
were damaged. Depending on the type of file or folder, you can open, save to a different
location, or restore a previous version.

How are previous versions created?
Previous versions are automatically saved as part of a restore point. If system protection is turned
on, Windows automatically creates previous versions of files and folders that have been modified
since the last restore point was made. Typically, restore points are made once a day. If your disk
is partitioned or if you have more than one hard disk on your computer, you need to turn on
system protection for the other partitions or disks. Previous versions are also created by
Windows Backup when you back up your files.

Note


If you modify a file several times in one day, only the version that was current when the
restore point or backup was made is saved as a previous version.

To turn on system protection
System protection is automatically turned on for the drive that Windows is installed on.
You can turn it on for other drives by following the steps below.
1.

Click to open System.

2. In the left pane, click System protection.
If you are prompted for an administrator
password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
3. Click the drive, and then click Configure.
4. Do one of the following:
o To turn on the ability to restore system settings and previous version of files, click
Restore system settings and previous versions of files.

o

To turn on the ability to restore previous version of files, click Only restore
previous versions of files.
5. Click OK.

To turn off system protection
If you don't want Windows to keep previous versions of your files, you can turn off
system protection. When you turn off system protection, you are also turning off the
ability to restore your computer's system files using System Restore.
1.

Click to open System.

2. In the left pane, click System protection.
If you are prompted for an administrator
password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
3. Click the drive, and then click Configure.
4. Click Turn off system protection, and then click OK.

How do I view or restore previous versions of a file and folder?
1. Right-click the file or folder, and then click Restore previous versions.
You'll see a list of available previous versions of the file or folder. The list will include
files saved on a backup (if you're using Windows Backup to back up your files) as well as
restore points.

Note
o

To restore a previous version of a file or folder that's included in a library, rightclick the file or folder in the location where it's saved, rather than in the library.
For example, to restore a previous version of a picture that's included in the
Pictures library but is stored in the My Pictures folder, right-click the My Pictures
folder, and then click Restore previous versions. For more information about
libraries, see Include folders in a library.
The Previous Versions tab, showing some previous versions of files

2. Before restoring a previous version of a file or folder, select the previous version, and
then click Open to view it to make sure it's the version you want.

Note
o

You can't open or copy previous versions of files that were created by Windows
Backup, but you can restore them.

3. To restore a previous version, select the previous version, and then click Restore.

Warning
o

The file or folder will replace the current version on your computer, and the
replacement cannot be undone.

Note
o

If the Restore button isn't available, you can't restore a previous version of the file
or folder to its original location. However, you might be able to open it or save it
to a different location.

How is restoring previous versions from restore points different from
restoring previous versions from a backup?
When you restore a previous version from a restore point, the file is already saved on your
computer, so you don't have to do anything additional. If you want to restore a previous version
of a file or folder from a backup, after you select the previous version and click Restore,
Windows opens the Restore Files wizard, and then you follow the steps in the wizard. The drive
or media that your backup is stored on needs to be available for you to restore items from a
backup.

Why can't I find previous versions of some files?
There are several possible reasons:




The file has not been changed. Previous versions are only available for files that have
been modified.
A restore point or backup has not been made since the file was changed.
System protection might not be turned on for the drive those files are stored on. If system
protection is not turned on, Windows can't create previous versions.

To turn on system protection
1.

Click to open System.

2. In the left pane, click System protection.
If you are prompted for an
administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide
confirmation.
3. Click the drive, and then click Configure.
4. Click Restore system settings and previous versions of files, and then click OK.




If your computer is on a workplace network, your system administrator might have
turned off the ability to use previous versions.
The file or folder is required for Windows to work properly. Examples include the system
folder (the folder that Windows is installed in) and files in the system folder, which is
usually C:\Windows. Windows provides a way to restore system files using System
Restore. For more information about restoring system files, see System Restore:
frequently asked questions.

Can I restore a file or folder that was deleted or renamed?
If you accidentally delete or rename a file or folder, you can restore a previous version of that
file or folder, but you need to know the location where the file or folder was saved. To restore a
file or folder that was deleted or renamed, follow these steps:
1.
Click to open Computer.
2. Navigate to the folder that used to contain the file or folder, right-click it, and then click
Restore previous versions.
If the folder was at the top level of a drive, for example C:\, right-click the drive and then
click Restore previous versions.
3. Double-click a previous version of the folder that contains the file or folder you want to
restore. (For example, if a file was deleted today, choose a version of the folder from
yesterday that contains the file.)
4. Drag the file or folder that you want to restore to another location, such as your desktop
or another folder.
The version of the file or folder is saved to the location that you selected.

Tip
o

If you don't remember the exact file or folder name or its location, you can search
for it by typing part of the name in the search box in the Computer folder.


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