Microsoft Extends OneDrive's Version History Feature to Include More File Types

Looking beyond Office files, Microsoft expands the reach of the Version History feature in OneDrive to include PDF, images and practically all other types of files.


Version History, a Time Machine-like feature that enables OneDrive users to view and restore older versions of a file, is one of the handier features of Microsoft's cloud storage service. The downside for many users was that it only worked with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and other Microsoft Office files.

This week, Redmond, Wash. software and cloud services provider announced that it is lifting that restriction.

"Now, version history is compatible with all file types, so you no longer need to worry about your PDFs, CAD files or even your photos and videos getting accidentally edited—you'll always be able to restore or download a previous version," announced Microsoft in a blog post. "OneDrive will keep an older version of your files for 30 days. Expanded version history support has started rolling out and will be available to everyone this summer."

Simply right-clicking on a file now brings up the Version History option, which opens a pane listing the previous versions of the file, along with the user who modified it and its size. Users can then opt to open it or restore it. The latter action replaces that current version of the file with the earlier version.

A more comprehensive Version History feature is just the start, hinted Microsoft. The company claimed it is working on more data protection capabilities for subsequent updates.

Later this year, as part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is adding a Files On-Demand feature that allows users to store files on the service without keeping a local copy. Files stored in this manner still appear in Explorer, the Windows file manager, enabling users to access them as long as they have access to an internet connection. Members of the Windows Insider early-access program can take the storage-sparing feature for a spin now.

On the mobile front, Microsoft announced in May that OneDrive will support the new Files app in the upcoming release of iOS 11 for Apple iPhones and iPads. As its name suggests, Files will allow users to organize and manage files stored on their devices and connected cloud storage services like Apple's own iCloud.

Of course, Microsoft isn't the only company to bake more functionality into its cloud storage offering.

In March, Google added a Quick Access feature to Google Drive that was previously only available to users of the company's G Suite apps on Android. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, Quick Access predicts which files users are looking for based on their interaction patterns and presents them before they even start a search. It also uses information gleaned from other Google apps to refine its file-fetching capabilities.

"The model [used by Quick Access] computes a relevance score for each of the documents in Drive and the top scoring documents are presented on the home screen," said Sandeep Tata, a Google Research software Engineer, in a blog post. "For example, if you have a Calendar entry for a meeting with a coworker in the next few minutes, Quick Access might predict that the presentation you've been working on with that coworker is more relevant compared to your monthly budget spreadsheet or the photos you uploaded last week."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...