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June 20
SharePoint Quick Reference Guide: How Versioning Works in Lists and Libraries

When versioning is enabled in your list or library, you can store, track, and restore items in a list and files in a library whenever they change. Versioning, combined with other settings, such as checkout, gives you a lot of control of the content that is posted on your site and can provide real value if you ever have a need to look at or restore an old version of an item or file.

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Versioning Overview

Your site owner or site collection administrator can turn versioning on or off for a library. Versioning is available for list items in all default list types—including calendars, issue tracking lists, and custom lists. It is also available for all file types that can be stored in libraries.   For OnePoint, Major Versioning is turned on by default, unless there’s a business reason for major and minor version tracking or not to have versioning on at all. 

You can use versioning to:

  • Track history of a version    When versioning is enabled, you can see when an item or file was changed and who changed it. You can also see when properties (information about the file) were changed. For example, if someone changes the due date of a list item, that information appears in the version history. You can also see the comments people make when they check files into libraries.
  • Restore a previous version    If you made a mistake in a current version, if the current version is corrupt, or if you simply like a previous version better, you can replace the current version with a previous one. The restored version becomes the new current version.
  • View a previous version    You can view a previous version without overwriting your current version. If you are viewing version history within a Microsoft Office document, such as a Word or Excel file, you can compare the two versions to determine what the differences are.

When versions are created

When versioning is enabled, versions are created in the following situations:

  •  When a list item or file is first created or when a file is uploaded.

 Note    If file checkout is required, you have to check the file in to create its first version.

  •  When a file is uploaded that has the same name as an existing file and the Add as a new version to existing files check box is selected.
  •  When the properties of a list item or file are changed.
  •  When a file is opened, edited, and saved. A version is created when you first click Save. It retains the new version number for the duration of the current editing session, even though you might save it several times. When you close it and then reopen it for another editing session, another version is created.

There can be up to three current versions of a file at any given time: the checked-out version, the latest minor or draft version, and the latest published or major version. All other versions are considered historical versions. Some current versions are only visible to users who have permissions to view them.

Major and minor versions

Some organizations track both major and minor versions of files in their libraries. Others only track the major versions. Major versions are identified by whole numbers, such as 5.0; minor versions are identified by decimal numbers, such as 5.1.

Most organizations use minor versions when files are under development, and major versions when certain milestones are reached or when the files are ready for review by a wide audience. In many organizations, draft security is set to allow only the owner of a file and people who have permissions to approve files. That means that minor versions cannot be seen by anyone else until a major version is published.

Major versions are available for lists, but minor versions are not available. Each version of a list item is numbered with a whole number. If your organization requires approval of items in a list, the items remain in Pending status until they are approved by someone who has permissions to approve them. While in Pending status they are numbered with decimal numbers and are referred to as drafts.

Version Numbering

Version numbers are automatically added each time you create a new version. In a list or library that has major versioning enabled, the versions have whole numbers, such as 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and so on. In libraries, your administrator might enable versioning for both major and minor versions. When minor versions are being tracked, they have decimal numbers such as 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and so on. When one of those versions is published as a major version, its number becomes 2.0. Subsequent minor versions are numbered 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and so on.

When you discard a checkout, the version number does not change. If the most recent version was version 3.0, it remains at 3.0 after you discard the checkout.

When you delete a version, the version goes to the Recycle Bin and its number goes with it. The Version History will show the remaining version numbers. The other version numbers do not change. For example, if you have a document that has minor versions 2.1 and 2.2, and you decide to delete version 2.1, the resulting version history shows only versions 2.0 and 2.2. The following picture shows this. 

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How Versioning Works with File Checkout

When you check out a file from a library that has versioning turned on, a new version is created every time you check it back in. And, if major and minor versions are turned on, you can decide, at check-in, which type of version you are checking in. In libraries where checkout is required, versions are only created upon check-in.

In libraries where checkout is not required, a new version is created the first time you save after opening the file. Each subsequent save overwrites the version that you created with the first save. If you close the application and then reopen the document, the first save will, once again, produce a version. This can cause the number of versions to proliferate very rapidly.

If you are not able to check out a document for editing (.pdf or .jpeg) you can override the existing version by checking out (if required), uploading a new document with the exact same name and checking in.   While this works on most content types, it’s not recommended and is not a best practice for other types of documents that are not static versions.  

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