How to restore a previous version of an Excel file

The loss of an Excel file remains a common issue amongst many people. Often, people unintentionally save a piece of work over one that has been saved already, losing the work that has been saved over. In other instances, you may accidentally overwrite a spreadsheet and wonder if there are any ways to get it back. This blog will delve into the means in which you can restore a previous file that you may have accidentally overwritten.

Thankfully, there are several methods to recover a lost Excel file, and this blog will detail three of the means by which you can do this.

After each step by step, there will be a longer, in-depth breakdown should you need any further detail on the method.

How to restore a previous version of an Excel file:

We’ve also created a video accompaniment to this video, which you can watch here:

All of these methods will, or should, work for you in recovering a previous version of your spreadsheet. In this article, each method will have a step-by-step breakdown, whilst also having a further in-depth breakdown of each section in case you need any more detail, guided with screenshots.

The first method this blog will look at is using the tools of Excel itself to recover a lost version of a file. Excel allows the user to view a version history of their spreadsheet, a menu from which they are able to load any previous iterations of their work.

Step by step: How to restore a previous version of an Excel file

Solution 1: Use Version History to restore a previous version of an Excel file

  • Open Excel document.
  • Click “File.”
  • Click “Info.”
  • Go to “Version History” and decide which version of the spreadsheet you want.

If you wish to see a further, in depth breakdown of these steps, then please continue reading.

  • First, open a new Excel document.
  • From here, click “File,” highlighted below.

Once you’ve clicked “File,” you will be greeted with a menu, the main dashboard from which you can edit your Excel document.

  • Next, select “Info” in the left menu.

  • Once on the info screen, click “Version History.”

Now, you will be greeted by the version history screen. The main portion of the screen will remain blank, until you choose which document it is you wish to recover. The list of your previous spreadsheets will be found on the right hand side of the screen, as is evident in the screenshot below:

(Of course, yours will have a list of documents to recover)

From there, click the file you wish to restore. From there, you should have successfully recovered a previously overwritten spreadsheet.

Don’t worry if this doesn’t work, however. There are still two other ways you can attempt to salvage a previous version of your file. Recovering an unsaved file from AutoRecovery is another method you can use to recover a lost version of an Excel file.

Solution 2: Use Version History to restore a previous version of an Excel file

  • Click “File.”
  • Click “Info.”
  • Go to “Manage Workbooks.”
  • Then click “Recover Unsaved Workbooks.”
  • Select the file you wish to recover from the menu.

To do this, first, click file in the top left of the screen. Next, click info, which has been highlighted below:

  • Next, click the “Manage Workbook” option.
  • Then click “Recover Unsaved Workbooks.”

This will present a menu from which you will be able to load any previously unsaved, lost files. The menu will look like this (though yours will have a list of any files you lost).

Simply select the file you wish to reload, and you should have then successfully recovered the file you hoped to!

Whilst these means will serve to recover a lost file, there is another means of preventing a file being lost. If you edit your AutoRecovery interval, then that should minimise any chance of file loss.

Solution 3: Use Version History to restore a previous version of an Excel file

  • Click “File.”
  • Click “Options,” at the bottom of the menu.
  • On the menu that comes up, click the “Save” tab.
  • Edit the “Save AutoRecover information every…” line with a time you feel best suits you.
  • Click “OK” in the bottom right of the menu to save your changes.

As ever, if this step-by-step isn’t enough, there is a more detailed breakdown of the method below.

  • First, click file in the top left corner of your spreadsheet.

  • Next, click the options tab, located at the bottom of your screen on the left-hand menu.

After clicking options, you will be greeted with a menu. Find Save on the left-hand side, and click that. It’s highlighted below should you need it.

After clicking Save, you will see a line of text: “Save AutoRecovery every…,” which is followed by a number that you can change. It has defaulted to ten minutes, but you can alter this to a lower number in order to have your document save more frequently.

After deciding on a number, click OK in the bottom right to save your settings.

So, this blog has covered three ways for you to restore a previous version of an Excel file. You can either use version history to find an old version of your file, recover Excel files through AutoRecover, or edit the time between file autosaves.

Any of these three means should work, and none will take significantly longer than any other.

Thank you for reading this blog, I hope it was as helpful as you wanted it to be! If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team, either through commenting on this blog or other forms of communication.

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Michael Fontana

Michael Fontana has been the managing director of telecoms and MSP Optionbox for over a decade and has worked in various telecommunication roles over the last 20 years. Michael has been involved in many exciting projects, such as co-founding telecoms and IT businesses and has now built up a team of more than 15 staff, serving over 300 clients nationwide. With a wealth of experience in IT and a passion for technology, Michael is now helping BTP to produce the highest quality guides on the internet. You can connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

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