Recover Workbooks Using Versions

The Versions feature in Excel 2013 is a very useful tool as it can recover previous versions of a workbook if for example any of these situations occur.

  • Your computer crashes.
  • There’s a power cut.
  • You close your work without saving and then discover that you have lost all of your work since the last save.
  • You delete parts of your workbook and then save only to realise that you deleted something important before saving.

The Versions feature is turned on by default and will automatically create a back up of your workbook every 10 minutes when you have it open. You can easily change the default settings by following the steps in the next section.

Change Default Settings

With Excel open click on File → Options and select the Save category in the dialogue box.

Excel Options Save

In this section you can change how often Excel creates a back up of your active workbook and where the back versions are stored.

Save Default Settings

Back Up Files

Back up files are not saved forever as this would result in your hard drive quickly filling up with files you probably would never require. As long as a workbook is open Excel stores a back up copy of the workbook even if you save the workbook Excel will store the previous version.

When you close and save the workbook all back up versions of this workbook are deleted from the versions back up folder. However if you close your workbook without saving i.e. your computer crashes, there is a power cut then Excel will keep a back up copy of the workbook in the back ups folder.

The Versions feature will not protect your workbook from hard drive failure therefor it is always good practice to have your back up folder set to a different hard drive on your PC or network.

Excel 2013 now saves your documents by default to your Onedrive account provided you are logged in to your Microsoft account.

View A Back Up Version

To view versions of the current workbook click File


You will see next to Manage Versions all recent back ups of your current workbook.

To view any of these workbooks double-click on one of them to open.

You can then copy and paste any previous data you had entered or click restore to recover your workbook back to this version.

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