How to recover deleted or modified content in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business?


In this article, we are going to see how we can recover content which has been deleted or modified. Each time a document subject to a retention policy is edited or deleted, a version is copied to the Preservation Hold Library.

Though, we can use SharePoint Online permissions level so that we can restrict users from deleting any content (Understand Permission Level) but then there is also a solution so that we can recover deleted or modified content.

Preservation Hold Library – A Preservation Hold Library is created when you include a SharePoint site or a OneDrive account in a Retention Policy and is visible only to Site Collection administrators.


Retention Policy needs to be applied to SharePoint Online and OneDrive from Office 365 Security & Compliance center.

Note – Preservation Hold Library will not be automatically created after applying Retention Policy to SharePoint or OneDrive site, it will be created after the first time the content has been modified or deleted.

SharePoint content recovery through Preservation Hold Library:

  1. Site Administrator can recover deleted files from Preservation Hold Library (Only Site Administrator can access Preservation Hold Library folder)
  2. Go to SharePoint Online Site for which you want to recover content. Site > Site Contents > Preservation Hold Library.
  3. Select the content and download.

OneDrive content recovery through Preservation Hold Library:

  1. As OneDrive is used as a personal storage location, users have the permission to recover deleted items.
  2. When a file is deleted it will be stored in Preservation Hold Library. (In the below images, I am deleting a doc)
  3. Sign in to and open OneDrive.
  4. After opening OneDrive, in URL replace “_layouts/15/onedrive.aspx” by “_layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx”

  5. You will be redirected to site content and if you have any deleted or modified files, you will be able to see Preservation Hold Library folder. (see below image)


With this simple process, you will be able to recover deleted or modified content from SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business and avoid losing your important contents.

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