Has Microsoft broken document versioning in SharePoint Online?

I’ve just discovered something rather concerning when trying to compare two versions of a document managed in a SharePoint Online document library – the versioning functions seem to be somewhat broken.

All the versions are displayed when I open version history, so for now I assume all the data is safe. However, I can’t do anything with previous versions of my documents. Specifically, the following seems broken:

  • Comparing two versions of a document in Word.
  • Downloading a previous version of a document from SharePoint.
  • Restoring a previous version of a document on SharePoint.
  • Troubleshooting restoring a previous document on SharePoint.

More details below — I’ll update this post if I find answers.

UPDATE 11/07/2016: I’ve just re-tested this issue (as I have done so periodically since putting up the post) and have found the issue seems to be (mostly) resolved:

  • From version history I can now open previous versions and successfully restore previous versions.
  • From within a word document I can use the compare button to automatically compare to the last major or minor version.
  • From within a word document I still cannot compare to a specific version I select – the selection window loads but never populates.

Comparing two versions of a document in word

When working with documents stored in SharePoint, word provides integrated version comparison options – with a click of your mouse on the review tab you can compare your currently open version with:

  • The last major version.Word-Compare specific version menu
  • The last version (major or minor).
  • A specific version you select.

All three functions currently seem to be broken.

Selecting “major version” or “last version” brings up a message box for “retrieving version history” and then sits there until you eventually realise it isn’t working.

Word-Retrieving version history

Selecting “specific version” brings up a dialogue to select the version from SharePoint you would like to compare to, but the list is never populated:

Word-Compare specific version

Downloading previous version of a document from SharePoint

You used to be able to bring  up the version history of a document in a SharePoint library, select the version you wanted, and download the file. That option seems to have completely disappeared.

SP-View Previous Options

Restoring previous versions of a document on SharePoint

Fairly important to version control — restoring an earlier version of a document to become the new current version. This seems to be broken; when I attempt to restore a version I get the following error message:

SP-Restore fail

Troubleshooting restore failure

The icing on the cake? When I click on the “troubleshoot issues” link above I get another error message.

SP-restore troubleshoot.png


What gives Microsoft?

I’ve run some Google searches and can’t find any posts already reporting this problem. It’s possible something has gone wrong with our instance, or the document libraries I have been working on. I’ll be doing some further investigation and testing of that to rule it out.


4 thoughts on “Has Microsoft broken document versioning in SharePoint Online?

  1. I am glad the issues were resolved asap. The reason why I love Microsoft more than ever because of their nimble team and customer service.
    Although thanks for posting about this, incase they update certain things and I happen to receive the this kind of error again, I know what do you


  2. Same problem here, the first attempt to load the version history is unsuccessful, but if you give it a second try, it will load your versions.
    Hope they fix it to make it work on first try.

    It look like a Word issue, as it affect SharePoint OnPrem too.


  3. Continued version control issues with O365, this time with MS Project. I tried to Restore version 61 of a MS project file but it continues to post an even older version. It goes back at least two earlier versions if not more. There are multiple project managers working on the same file, does that have anything to do with it?


    1. It shouldn’t, but SharePoint and the Office suite don’t always play nice together. The original problems I was having seemed to get resolved (eventually), but I have hit various other snags along the way. I still wouldn’t touch OneDrive with a ten foot pole, though my current client has been using the office365 group sites (which is a trimmed down SharePoint Online site) and that has been relatively stable, as long as you don’t sync it to your local computer.


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