Sunday, September 23, 2012

Windows 8: How To Recover Previous Versions Of Files

In Windows Vista and Windows 7 there was a "Previous Versions" tab on the properties dialog of folders. This could be used to recover a previous version of a file that has since been deleted or changed. This can be an invaluable feature but Microsoft replaced it with the "File History" feature in Windows 8. While File History is good, it doesn't have all the features that Previous Versions did.

File History requires an extra drive or network location to be used to store many versions of folders on your computer and makes copies  at a much faster rate than Previous Versions. This has the added benefit of being able to recover them if your drive fails. Previous Versions stores the history of files on the same drive that they're on so if the drive fails, you will lose the files if they aren't also stored somewhere else. So if you only have one drive which you probably do on a laptop, you can't use File History unless you have an external drive connected. Click Read more to find out how to re-enable Windows 7-style Previous Versions.

To re-enable the Previous Versions feature from Windows 7 you will have to do some work if the drive you want to recover from is not the system drive which is the only drive protected by default. If the file is on the system drive, you may skip to the "Recovery" section below. Note that this has to be done before you need the feature if the drive isn't the system drive. If you have already deleted a file you need recovered, it will not be there if it was not on the system drive. To enable protection, first you will need to open the System Properties dialog. The quickest way is to use the start screen.  

Mouse and keyboard users press the windows key or click in the bottom left corner of your screen. Tablet users swipe in from the right to open the charms bar and press search. Type in sysdm.cpl and press enter. The following dialog will appear.

Next look at the drive you want protected from the "Protection Settings" list. The Protection column must be "On" for the files on this drive to be protected and to have previous versions available. If it is "Off" or you want to configure the protection settings, click on the drive and then press the Configure button. The following dialog will appear.

Make sure "Turn on system protection" is selected and adjust the "Max Usage" slider to the desired level. This controls how much storage System Protection will use before deleting older versions to make room for newer versions of files. The larger the Max Usage, the farther back in time the previous versions will be stored. Press Ok on both dialogs to apply the settings.

Recovery
Now to access previous versions open a file explorer window. In the address bar type \\localhost\C$ and press enter. You can replace C$ with any drive letter and the dollar symbol if the file is on a different drive. 
Next navigate to and select the folder which contains your deleted file and open the properties dialog. This can be done by pressing the properties button in the Home tab.
Select the version of the folder you want to open and click the Open button. This will show you the version of the folder at that date and time. You can copy any file you want out and back to where you want to put it.

What this is doing is accessing your local computer as if it were being accessed over the network. Apparently Microsoft left the previous versions tab in the properties dialog if the folder was being accessed over the network. This was probably to support Previous Versions on older versions of Windows and they forgot to check if the computer is running Windows 8, or for any other reason. Either way, it's useful.

An alternate method of recovering files is to use ShadowExplorer.

Alternatively, you can use a third party tool called Shadow Explorer. Click the link to download it. Be sure to get the latest version. Install Shadow Explorer and run it, it will look like the above image. First select the drive you want to recover a file from from the drop down list next to the File menu. Then select the date of the copy you want to recover the file from. After that, you browse to where the file is located. Then you right click the file and select Export. Choose where to recover the file to and press OK. Your previous version should now be restored.

12 comments:

Ethikal Hackr Neeraj said...

thank you so so and so much for this great post.it has helped me to get my favourite post.you are great man

Arrow_Raider said...

Previous versions says there are no previous versions available, but ShadowExplorer shows my previous files just fine. Why would this be?

Vamsi krishna Reddy said...

thank u so much this has helped me a lot

Sebastien Paquet said...

This is not working. I tried that with Windows 8 and I didn't get any previous files.. should have. and I tried hard as it was well presented.

Dotun Aremu said...

Thank you so so much. This really helped even with the "Shadow Explorer" that helped restore the actual file.
Great Work!!!

Ben O'Quigley said...

I'm having the same issue as Arrow_Raider. Shows previous file in shadow explorer but not in previous versions? Any help with this?

John me said...

As and administrator, I am wondering how Microsoft is forgetting to put this little fellow in windows 8 as we had in windows 7, Some how I used this method \\localhost\c$, and mapped all the drives I want to have previous versions of files. Mapping seems to be the easiest where as it look really dirty inside "Computer", but have no other option.

I already posted in this with the name of VAN: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/msgulfcommunity/archive/2013/04/29/restore-previous-versions-of-your-files-easily-in-windows-8.aspx

MCGODISGOOD13 said...

thanks a lot this really helped

Jody Cohn said...

Thanks for the help. This worked great.

Sarah K said...

I have never find this information before. Great post!
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Foxy The Pirate Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Foxy The Pirate Fox said...

Did not work at all. Tried shadow explorer. That didn't work either. Please help.