That sinking feeling when you realize you saved over a version of a file you need or unwittingly lost some vital information in a recent document revision is all too familiar to many. In the past, your best bet was a reconstruction from memory, but the rise of cloud services and automatic backups has made it easier than ever to recover an earlier version of the files you need.

Here’s how to restore earlier document versions from some of the top apps and services. We also explain how to recover files from backups on different operating systems. If you don’t have a backup routine in place already, it’s high time you read our guide on how to back up your digital life.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

Restore Files from Microsoft OneDrive, Office, or Windows

Microsoft Word screenshot
Courtesy of Simon Hill

Before we run through your options here, you should know that to recover previous versions of files from Microsoft’s Windows or Office suite, you need a backup to draw them from. If you haven’t set up a backup in Windows or with OneDrive, then you are likely out of luck.

If you use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service to save your files online, then it’s easy to recover previous versions. Here’s how:

  1. Open OneDrive in your browser.
  2. Find the file you want and right-click on it.
  3. Choose Version history from the drop-down list.
  4. Click the ellipses (…) or arrow next to the version you want and choose Restore.