One Drive – Never lose those file changes again

One Drive – Never lose those file changes again

Published June 10, 2020

How many hours of life have you wasted on recreating files or contents after the dreaded not responding? Have you ever closed a file and accidentally not saved it? Has your IT department ever said sorry our backup only has the file as of last night so everything you did today is gone? If you have Office 365 then you may have OneDrive and with its AutoSave and Versioning features these frustrations could disappear for free!

What is AutoSave?

Well the clue is in the name for this one. The AutoSave feature is automatically enabled on any Office Document edited in the Office suite and stored within OneDrive configured on your machine. The feature itself has been around for some time now but still many businesses are not taking advantage of it. Once OneDrive has been enabled on your machine and configured for your Office 365 account any files you store here are then AutoSaved as you edit them. Simple as that!

One Drive button

Where does versioning come in to all this?

At first glance saving every change as I go seems wonderful, and 90% of the time it will probably have got you or at least kept you out of a hole. However, what if you have just opened a spreadsheet to check some figures and you have accidentally made a change that you don’t notice immediately? In the past when you close the document that helpful prompt would ask if you wanted to save the changes you didn’t know you had made. Not anymore, those changes have already been saved. Or what if you make some layout changes to a PowerPoint presentation and then a few days later decide you preferred it the previous way. To negate this problem we have versioning, so as you are merrily editing your document and letting OneDrive handle the AutoSave syncing of your documents, it is creating multiple versions of the documents.

How do I access my versions?

Originally these versions were only accessible in the OneDrive web page, so you would have to login to Office 365 website, browse to the document in question and then you could view its history. Microsoft have now brought this directly to your application. If you look at the top of your Office Application window you will see the file name and a drop-down arrow with a “Version History” option, clicking on this will bring a toolbar down the right hand side with all of the versions of this document, who modified it and when.

Office 365 One Drive

From here you can select to open one of the previous versions. This version of the document will open in a new Window to view, with a couple of options below the Ribbon. First option is Compare, which opens a comparison page showing you the differences between the two (especially useful on a 100-page document). The second option restores the file back to that point in time, a process that in the past would have required calling up your IT department, requesting a restore of a file and hoping they had a version in the backup process that is as you require. Please note, this restore does not just overwrite the document it creates another new version in the version history so if you decide the original was better after all, just restore it again.

The other alternative to viewing the version history from inside the office application is to just right click on it from within Explorer, browse to the file in question right click and select the Version History and from here you can pick which version of the file you want, using the ellipses that appear when you hover over another version you can choose whether to restore it, download the version as another file or delete it 

What about shared company files?

Now because at the backend of OneDrive is just Microsoft’s Behemoth SharePoint, these wonderful features aren’t just locked to individuals using their own OneDrive storage space for personal documents. The principles of AutoSave and versioning can be used across the spectrum with documents stored in SharePoint or accessed by users through Teams (Where the file storage is also SharePoint). So now you can look to move entire file shares to the cloud and everyone can benefit from these features and many more. Then when looking at the version history you can see who modified the file and when. In Teams you can discuss file changes to the side of the document and question why a change was made or make suggestions for further changes.

What should I take away from this?

1. AutoSave feature is across the Office Suite of applications.
2. It also occurs when documents are modified in the Office Web Apps or Teams.
3. Versioning is happening as these file changes are being saved.
4. End users can restore a file almost instantly, to multiple iterations, all by themselves without having to call IT.
5. There is likely to be far more versions of a document than your IT department would have ever had available in their backup routines
6. Storing company shared documents in SharePoint allows these features across the board
7. Chances are you are probably already paying for OneDrive/SharePoint/Teams and all these features with the licensing you already have.

For more info on how to unlock the true potential of Office 365

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Published June 10, 2020

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