Recover content in Microsoft 365 workloads

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Retaining documents and files enables users to find and recover them within a certain point of time when needed. For example, when a document is deleted by mistake.

Recovery options for users

Users can recover their own deleted files using the SharePoint Online recycle bin, OneDrive for Business recycle bin or the restore previous versions from a document stored in libraries with versioning enabled.

OneDrive for Business portal

To recover a file in OneDrive for Business as a regular user, perform the following steps in the Office 365 portal:

  1. Navigate to your OneDrive for Business.

  2. Select Recycle bin from the left-side pane.

  3. Select the checkmark left from the item to restore and select Restore from the top pane.

  4. The item has been successfully restored to its original location.

SharePoint Online portal

  1. The steps for restoring items from SharePoint Online are similar. Follow these steps to restore an item from a SharePoint Online document library in the Office 365 portal:

  2. Navigate to SharePoint Online in your tenant.

  3. Select the site collection containing the file to restore.

  4. Select Recycle bin from the left-side pane.

  5. Select the checkmark left from the item to restore and select Restore from the top pane.

  6. The item has been successfully restored to its original location.

Versions from the portal

When a previous version of a document or spreadsheet needs to be restored, it can be done in the SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business portal directly or via the Office Online apps. The following example shows how to restore a previous version of a Word document using the SharePoint Online portal and Office Online:

  1. Navigate to SharePoint Online in your tenant.

  2. Select the site collection containing the file for which a version should be restored.

  3. Navigate to the document location in the document library.

  4. Select the three dots (…) rights from the document and select Version history.

  5. Hover over the Modified date of the version to recover and select the arrow down.

  6. Select Restore to move the document back to the previous version.

  7. Acknowledge the replacement of the document with a previous version by selecting OK.

  8. A new version is being generated with the document content of the recovered version.

The document has been successfully restored and has overwritten the last version.

Versions from Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise

When different document versions exist and a comparison is required before restoring or recovery, use the Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise to open and review the versions first and then restore it to the original location or save it elsewhere. Perform the following steps from the Office 365 portal to review a version of an existing Word document and restore it to a different location:

  1. Navigate to SharePoint Online in your tenant.

  2. Select the site collection containing the file for which a version should be restored.

  3. Navigate to the document location in the document library.

  4. Select the checkmark left from the item to restore and select Open in app from the top pane.

  5. In the Word client, select File from the upper left-side and Info from the left-side pane.

  6. Select Version History to open the right-side pane with all previously saved versions.

  7. Select Open version from below the version you want to restore.

  8. In the previous version of the document, select File from the upper left-side and Save As from the left-side pane.

  9. Save the document version to new location.

You could also use the Compare and Restore buttons from the top pane in the older version of a document or spreadsheet to compare the versions side by side or restore it directly to the original location by overwriting the newer version.

Restore the entire OneDrive for Business

Users can also restore their entire OneDrive for Business to an earlier date and revert all changes made.

To revert the entire OneDrive for Business to an earlier state, perform the following steps in the Office 365 portal:

  1. Navigate to your OneDrive for Business.

  2. Select the cogwheel from the upper right-side and select Restore your OneDrive.

  3. Select the date from which the OneDrive for Business content shell be restored to.

  4. Select Restore to revert all changes done from the selected time.

Restoring the entire OneDrive for Business content can be useful if mass changes of files in a user's account occurred, such as the deletion of a large number of files or if malware has modified a large number of files, like ransomware does when a client is infected.

Recovery options for administrators

When a document is not present in the recycle bin anymore, but still retained by a retention policy, Administrators can access the preservation hold library and recover it directly. To access the preservation hold library of a site collection, the appropriate site-collection administrator permissions are required.

Perform the following steps from the Office 365 portal, to access the preservation hold library of a SharePoint Online site collection:

  1. Navigate to SharePoint Online in your tenant.

  2. Select the site collection where the document shall be restored from.

  3. Select the cogwheel in the upper right-side and select Site contents.

  4. Select Preservation Hold Library from the Contents list.