How to recover overwritten documents

How to recover overwritten documents

Last week, I had a slight panic attack. I was writing a lesson plan and I was using a previous lesson plan as a template. Instead of making changes to my new document, I accidentally overwrote the document I used as a template. Has this ever happened to you? If so, you know the feeling of dread that sweeps over you. If you want to know how to recover overwritten documents, continue reading.

On a number of occasions, I have overwritten important documents because I failed to create a copy. It used to cause a great deal of frustration; however, it no longer causes me the same worry. Why? I now do most of my work in Google Docs.

Even though Google automatically saves everything I do as I am doing it, it also has a great history feature. This allows me to recover overwritten documents.

Google Docs Revision History Feature

There are many reasons to look at a document’s revision history. Perhaps you are helping a student edit a paper and you want to see what changes were made. You could be writing a collaborative paper with others and you want to see their specific input. Or in my case, you could simply want to recover from overwriting your document. Here is what you need to know:

To access the revision history, simple click on File ->  See revision history.

Ensure that Show changes is checked at the bottom of the revision history date list.

Check the Show Changes checkbox

Check the Show Changes checkbox

By selecting a date from the right-hand column, you can look at the document at a specific point in time. If you click on the little arrow next to the date, you will see a list of incremental changes to your document for that session.

If you want to restore a revision, simply select a version of the document that you wish to restore, and click the Restore this Revision button at the top of the document.

Click the Restore this Revision button

Click the Restore this Revision button

Recover Overwritten Documents

Here is a video that goes into detail about using the revision history feature. It is useful to recover overwritten documents.

In my case, I saved at least an hour of unnecessary work. It is important to note that before I rolled back my document to a previous version, I first made a copy of the document with the new name.  After I created a copy with the new changes, I then recovered the original document.

If you would like to know more or if you have questions, please contact a member of the TEI team.

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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