Recovering Deleted Files from Google Drive and Restoring Previous Versions

Audience: Faculty, Staff and Students

This KB Article References: Google Drive
This Information is Intended for: Faculty, Staff, Students
Last Updated: May 23, 2019

The Trash for Google Drive My Drive and Shared Drives (Team Drives) works differently: Files in the trash in My Drive are not automatically deleted; however, in Shared Drives, files in the Trash are permanetly deleted after 30 days:

My Drive: Trash Never Automatically Deleted

If you delete a file you own in Google Drive on the web, it moves to the Trash (which you can access by clicking on More in the list on the left). Similarly, if you've downloaded Google Drive for PC/Mac, you can delete an item you own by moving it to your computer's trash (which will also move the item to Trash in Drive on the web). In both cases, Trash is never automatically emptied, so you can restore the file from Trash using Google Drive on the web at any time unless you permanently delete it (learn more about My Drive Trash).

Keep in mind that if you've shared a document and then moved it to the trash, those you've shared it with will still have access to the document unless you permanently delete it. To prevent collaborators from losing access, consider making someone else owner of the document before permanently deleting it.

Shared Drives: Trash Deleted After 30 Days

If you delete a file you own in a Google Drive Shared Drive on the web, it moves to the Trash (which you can access by clicking on More in the list on the left). Similarly, if you use Drive File Stream, if you have Content Manager or higher access, you can delete by moving it to your computer's trash (which will also move the item to Trash in the Shared Drive on the web).

Once in the Trash, the file will be permanetly deleted after 30 days. You can restore the file from the Shared Drive's Trash using Google Drive on the web only within those 30 days (more about deleting and restoring in Shared Drives).

To Restore an Item You Own

  1. Go to the Trash in Google Drive on the web
  2. Select the file(s) you'd like to restore
  3. Click the restore icon  (top right)

Learn more about restoring

To Restore a Google-format File to an Older Version

You (or someone you're sharing the document with) might make accidental changes. In Google Drive, you can easily restore a previous version of any Google-format file (e.g., Docs, Sheets, Slides). For non-Google format files, see Restore Recent Versions

  1. Go to Google Drive, find the file that you want to revert (undo changes) and click on it to open it
  2. Near the top right, click File and select See revision history
    File > See revision history
  3. In the Revision history that displays on the right, select the version that you want to revert to and it will display with markup (to view more detail revision hisotry, click the right arrow ► next to a date)
  4. Click Restore this revision at the top
    google doc with revision history on the right, a revision selected, and Restore this revision button at the top

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