4 steps to retrieve a lost OneDrive document

onedrivegone-headerWe sometimes get calls from colleagues who have lost a document in their OneDrive. Over time we have learned some procedures to try and find it.
Please be aware that the majority of my colleagues has a F1-license, so I am focusing on OneDrive Online only.

What could have happened?

  • Deleted
  • Renamed
  • Moved to another folder
  • Moved to SharePoint (which means deleted from your OneDrive)

Which tools are available?

  • Search
  • Recycle bin
  • Document details pane

Where to start?

I would suggest to start either with Search or the Recycle bin. I love the details pane, and it has greatly improved since I last wrote about it, but as almost every change is captured, you will have a lot of scrolling to do.

So let’s start with

1. Search in OneDrive

OneDrivegone-search
The search results will show you where the document lives now. If you have many results, use the Filter option top right to narrow down the options. You can filter on modified date, document type and people’s names.

Found it? Phew, that was quick! That means it has been moved to another folder. Confirm it is the correct document and note down the new location. If you want to know WHEN you did this, check out the document details pane. Move the document back to its original folder if the move was an accident.

No luck? Well, there’s other ways to look!

2. Check the Recycle bin

onedrivegone-recyclebin
The search box does not work for the Recycle bin. You can only sort.

Sadly you can only Sort in the Recycle bin, not Search, so if your document’s name starts with M or N, and it has been deleted some time ago, you will have to scroll a great deal.

Found it? Restore it! It will be back into its original folder, but if you forgot which one that was, you can Search again.

No luck? Well, it has been deleted or… it may have been moved to SharePoint more than 93 days ago, so let’s just have a look there.

3. Search on the SharePoint landing page

onedrivegone-sharepoint
You will see where the document has moved to. If you get a lot of results, use the filter option!

Found it? Congratulations! Confirm it is the document you are looking for and remember where it is.

No luck? Most likely you have either deleted the document more than 93 days ago, or renamed the document. There’s only one way to find out!

4. Look in the document details pane

As I mentioned above, you can do this as step 1 or 2 but if you are using your OneDrive intensively, you may need to scroll a lot and the other steps may be quicker.

The details pane has improved a lot since I last wrote about it. It is now available for OneDrive for Business,  has clear icons and displays almost every change. It is context sensitive, so will display different things depending whether you are on your OneDrive landing page or in a folder. It also has clickable links for all documents that are still there. So please use this to check if the document has been renamed and/or moved.
If you have not been able to find the document in another way, this is the one option left. Scroll down until you see a “Deleted” or “Renamed” action for the document in question.

Onedrivegone-detailspane
To create this screenshot, I created a new document from OneDrive, gave it a name, added text in the document, deleted and restored it, and then moved it to another folder. Now you have all the icons and descriptions!

Moving a document to SharePoint only results in a “Deleted” mention, so you have no indication whether it has been moved to SharePoint or just plain deleted.

Found it? Hopefully you renamed it! Click on the title and find out where it lives.

No luck? Sorry, this is all that I can think of…

Can you blame the person with whom you shared the document?

No. If you share the document with someone, they can only edit the text in the document. They can not rename, move or delete the file.

Any other thoughts?

Did I miss something? Do you think there is a better order? Any other tricks to share? Please let me know!

Next time…

…We are going to complicate things by trying to retrieve lost documents from SharePoint!

Picture by ronnieb on Morguefile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s