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Restore Previous Versions of a File in Vista or Windows 7

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

The Previous Versions feature is actually nothing new from Microsoft; it existed on servers with the name Shadow Copies, which was an application that periodically backed-up and versioned folders and files on disks. However, with Vista and Windows 7, it is very easy for users to gain the benefit from this “versioning” of files. This means that if a file is deleted or updated, you can get back its previous version from the restore points before the update or delete process has taken place.

To view or copy a file from previous versions, open the Properties screen of the disk drive that the files were originally created on. Or again, open the Properties tab of the folder that contains the files you want to restore older versions of, or copy from older versions. Navigate to the Previous Versions tab and select an appropriate version for the related folder.

For example, I have deleted an image file named thunderbird_tabbed_folders_4 from the folder, Thunderbird Tabbed Folders. To restore the deleted file, right click on the folder and select Properties from the menu. In the Properties dialog box, select the Previous Versions tab as shown below.

After an appropriate restore point or a folder version that contains the desired file is selected, click the Open button. The folder of that version will be displayed on the screen as a current existing folder in the Windows Explorer window. The folder name contains the date that the folder was backed up as a restore point.

You will see that the deleted file that I want to restore: thunderbird_tabbed_folders_4 exists in the previous version of the folder Thunderbird Tabbed Folders. You can restore any file back from that point of time to current date.

By opening the context menu on the related file with a right click, you can copy the file, open the file and then save it in any folder in the current file structure, or directly print it, etc.

So, it’s that easy to restore previous versions of files in Vista and Windows 7. Now you no longer need to worry, even if you have accidentally deleted files.

~Ramachandran Kumaraswami

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