By Delia / Last update July 16, 2021

Overview of Previous Versions in Server 2012

When you accidentally delete or modify a file/folder, you may wonder if there is a way to revert it to the previous status. Luckily, the Previous Versions feature gives you such a chance. Built into Windows Server 2012, it allows users to restore files/folders to the older versions.

For system before Windows 2008, the Previous Versions tab works as a functionality of the Shadow Copy Client provided by Microsoft and can be downloaded from the official website. Unlike traditional file backup, Previous Versions only keeps track of changes of the data. Once your files/folders are deleted or damaged, you can use it to go back in time.

How to use Previous Versions in Windows Server 2012?

Follow the steps below to return your files to a previous version.

Step 1. Right click the file you want to restore. Then choose Restore previous versions from the menu.

Step 2. You can see the list of previous versions files. Simply select the version you need and then click Open to view it.

Step 3. If the selected version is what you want, you can click Restore.



  • Copy: click it to create a copy of the selected version.

  • The current file will be replaced and the replacement cannot be undone.

  • These steps also work with Previous Versions in Server 2003.

However, according to some users, they sometimes find Previous Versions not working in Server 2012. Most commonly, there is no Restore previous versions option whenever they right click files. Even if you can find and open this option, you will be informed “There are no previous versions available”.

When these things take place, you might think about checking if the Shadow Copy in Server 2012 is turned on, but only to find that you have already configured it. In that case, there is no chance to recover data from that method.

Nevertheless, don't be discouraged, you still have chances to recover files if you have backed up them in advance.

Backup files in case Previous Versions fails

As a Windows Server user, it is critical to ensure your files are backed up. As far as I know, many small companies use Server systems to record customer information. To keep files safe, relying on Restore previous versions in Server 2012 is not enough, as this feature often goes wrong.

Regular file backups are highly recommended. Thus, you can restore files from backup image when you need older versions files. AOMEI Backupper Server has been committed to helping people backup files to internal/external hard drives, cloud drives, NAS devices, and network, etc.

With this utility, you can schedule your backup to start at a specific time, for instance, Windows Server 2012 backup schedule weekly. When you have insufficient disk space, the Scheme feature serves you well to do an old backups cleanup. Learn how to backup files with this utility below.

Step 1. Download 30-day free trial to enjoy one-click installation. Open this program click Backup and File Backup subsequently.

Download Free Trial Server 2012/2012 R2/2016/2016 R2/2019
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File Backup

Step 2. Give this backup task a name. Click Add Folder or Add File, then select the folder you want to backup by choosing This PC. Then click OK.

Add File Or Folder

Step 3. Click to select the destination path (here is E:\).

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. Click Start Backup to run this backup task.

Start Backup


  • Options: you can comment, encrypt, compress or split your backups here.

  • Schedule: use it to set up an auto backup based on Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in or Real-time Sync.

  • To restore files from backup you have created, you can visit Home > the file backup task > Restore.

Details about Scheme and Schedule Option

There are two powerful features that you may need: Schedule and Scheme.

There are 6 options you may need in Schedule settings:

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: Set up the backup running daily, weekly, monthly to backup unsupervised. There is no need to backup manually.

  • Event Triggers: Perform the backup via the following event triggers: User logon, User logoff, System startup, System shutdown.

  • USB plug in: AOMEI Backupper will automatically backup the data on the USB or backup data to USB device while detecting the USB drive of the task.

  • Real-time Sync: It enables you to sync files immediately once the data changed, and always make your files stay up to date. 

Schedule Settings General

Besides, you could free up space for your Windows Server 2012 (R2) with Scheme settings:

Click Scheme -> Enable Backup Scheme, choose a backup scheme and specify the number of backups to keep, click OK. then it's done to customize the retention policy.


There are 5 schemes for you to delete old backup image to free up space: Full Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Differential Backup Scheme, Space Management Scheme, Other Backup Scheme. 

Final words

Now you know how to revert files to their earlier versions via Previous Versions in Server 2012. Note that this feature doesn’t always work fine. In case Previous Versions fails, I suggest you do regular file backups with AOMEI Backupper Server. Except for file backup, system/disk/partition backup and file sync are also available in this utility. With these features, you can mange backups more flexibly.