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Accessing previous versions overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Accessing previous versions overview

If you work with files that are located in shared folders on your network, you may be able to access previous versions of your files. Accessing previous versions of your files is useful because you can:

  • Recover files that were accidentally deleted. If you accidentally delete a file, you can open a previous version and copy it to a safe location.

  • Recover from accidentally overwriting a file. If you accidentally overwrite a file, you can recover a previous version of the file.

  • Compare versions of file while working. You can use previous versions when you want to check what has changed between two versions of a file.

To access previous versions of files, your server administrator must enable Shadow Copies of Shared Folders on the file server. Shadow copies are copies of files that are located on the server and appear as previous versions. If you would like to have Shadow Copies of Shared Folders enabled, contact your administrator.


  • For you to access previous versions of files, the shared files must be located on a computer running an operating system in the Microsoft® Windows Server 2003 family that has Shadow copies of Shared Folders enabled.

  • Previous versions are read-only. You cannot make changes to a previous version of the file as it exists on the server.

  • Previous versions are periodically deleted and can disappear at any time. If you think you might want a previous version of a file, it is recommended that you copy it to a safe place.

  • Please contact your server administrator if you want to know when previous versions are created or deleted.

For more information, see Previous Versions How To....

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