You may have been using Microsoft OneNote for some time without realizing it has a built-in backup system, or that each Notebook has its own recycle bin. In this post we’ll explore how to make use of both those features. You may also be interested in our earlier posts in this series.
When you delete a page or a section from a OneNote notebook, it is placed in the recycle bin that is associated with the notebook. Items will stay in the recycle bin for 60 days and then be removed permanently. To access the recycle bin, select the History tab on the menu bar at the top of the window. The first thing to note about the recycle bin is there is no button labeled “restore.” Instead, you must find the page or section you wish to recover and then right-click on it and choose Move or Copy.
As well as returning a page to its original location, you can also move it to a different section or even a different notebook. It should be noted that the recycle bin operates at the page and section level. If you delete a page with a picture on it, then the page, along with all its contents, goes to the recycle bin. However, if you just delete an item, such as a picture, from a OneNote page, then the item does not go to the recycle bin – instead it is permanently deleted. If you do delete items from a page and later need to recover them, then the next step is to access the automatic backups that OneNote makes.
How do the OneNote backups work?
By default, OneNote automatically makes backups of the sections in your Notebooks and keeps a history of two backups available for recovery. You can modify the settings for the backups in the OneNote options. To get to the options, select the File menu and then choose Options on the left hand menu. In the new window that appears, choose Save & Backup on the left, and you will see the following options:
In the image above I set OneNote to backup once a day and keep each backup for two days. You can always make backups more frequently and/or keep them for longer, as long as you have space to store the backups. If you have OneNote installed on your computer, then by default the backup location is on the local drive of that computer. For example my setting was:
If you wish, you can use the Modify button under the Save & Backup options to change the location for the backups.
How can I recover data from a OneNote backup?
To recover from a OneNote backup, go to the file menu and click on the Open Backups button on the right side of the page. You will then see a dialog box where you can choose the backup to work with. There will be a folder for each notebook that was backed up. Inside the folders, each of the files represents a backup of a section from that notebook. You may have several backup files for each section so be sure to choose the correct date, and then click on Open.
The backup file opens and appears just like any other notebook section. As with the OneNote recycle bin, there is no button labeled “restore”; instead you have to select the items you want to recover and then right-click and choose to copy the item to a current notebook. Always be sure to close the backup copy of the notebook once you have finished with it to avoid any confusion.