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Google Drive file versions: how do I roll back to an old version of a Google Drive file?

Google Drive file versions
Need to roll back time to an old version of a file? If it's stored in Google Drive, we have good news

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We’ve already explained how to restore a deleted Google Drive file, but what if the file is still there but you want to roll back to a previous version? Here’s how to restore an old version of a Google Drive file.

How to restore old versions of Google Docs, Sheets & Slides

The main purpose of this article is to restore old versions of files such as photos, Word documents or videos. Google handles versions of its own files – those created in Google Docs, Sheets & Slides – in a different way.

Luckily, if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s easy to do. Simply open the document in question and then click File | Version history | See version history.

A panel appears on the right of the screen, and you can then see who has edited the file and when. Once you find the version you want to restore, click on it and then, at the top, click “Restore this version”.

How to restore old versions of other files on Google Drive

First, head to Google Drive on the web and log in. Then navigate to the file you’re interested in by clicking the small down arrow to the left of My Drive (on the left-hand side).

google drive file versions

Here, I’ve highlighted an InDesign file that’s had a lot of work done on it over the past two or three weeks. (PC Pro subscribers are in for a treat!)

When I right-click on it, I see a number of options. The one I’m interested in here is “Manage versions”.

google drive file versions

As you can see from the text underneath “Manage versions” below, Drive keeps versions dating back 30 days or 100 versions – whichever happens first.

google drive file versions

If you press the three dots next to each name then you’ll have the choice to download it, keep it forever or delete it. The “keep it forever” option means that Google won’t automatically delete that version after 30 days, as it otherwise would.

Most of the time, you’ll want to download the previous version – the one you want to restore – to your computer. Remember where you downloaded it, for reasons we’ll come on to in a moment.

At this point, you have two options.

The first option is to click on the “UPLOAD NEW VERSION” button in the Manage versions view (shown above). You’ll then be prompted to find a file to upload, so choose the file that you just downloaded.

The second only works if you’re already using the “Backup and sync by Google” software.

If you are, head to the relevant folder on your computer and delete the current version of the file in question. Then find the old version of the file (that is, the one you just downloaded), and copy it to the synchronised folder.

READ NEXT: How do I make Google delete my data?

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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