Hey! Where the hell is my checked out file ?

Lately I came across this “use case” where a SharePoint Online user lost around 70 hours worth of work, so I figured I would share this interesting little story with you.


This is how the story goes :

  1. On April 15th, User 1 goes to SharePoint Online and check’s out the file Document 1. At this time the version number of Document 1 is 1.19.
  1. User 1 modifies Document 1, save’s the modifications back to SPO, but does not check the file in. When User 1 looks at Document 1, the version number shows 1.20 as expected.
  1. User 1 keeps modifying/saving/not checking in Document 1 up until May 9th. On May 9th, the version number of Document 1 still shows 1.20, but contains all the modifications since April 15th as expected.

So far so good, but :

  1. On May 10th, User 2 tries to modify Document 1, obviously he gets a message saying that this file has been checked out by User 1 since April 15th. From the User 2 perspective, the last version of Document 1 is still 1.19 because User 1 hasn’t checked in Document 1 back to SPO.
  1. User 2 did need to work on Document 1 and so in he cancelled the checkout of Document 1, bringing him back to when it was checked out, April 15th and loosing roughly 70 hours of modifications.


But wait this story no not over, I have a DR plan in place, remember this fiasco ! So I go the backup I have from May 9th and restore the file exactly as it was… Not ! It turns out checked out files are not being backed up by the third party I’m using. I am being told that the O365 API does not allow such functionality ( I will definitely confirm that on my own and let you know) and so I can’t restore the file as it was, checked out by User 1 on May 19th.

Damn it, I’ll find a way to get that file back ! So, I reach out to the SharePoint Online support team and share with them the problem I’m facing .Great news, they think the can restore the file! Actually they will need to restore the entire subside (around 30 gigs of data) to get the file back in the state it was on May 9th, but they think they can do it . So the young man politely informs me that during the restore process my site will be in read only and that I won’t have access to it for a period of a least two hours. It was a more down time than I expected for a single file, but I did needed the file.

So they proceed with the restore process and at that moment I realize that by “your site will be in read only for two hours” the young man actually meant “your entire SharePoint online service will be UNAVAILABLE for a certain period of time”.  At this time, my tenant has been out all day and I’m still not sure they were able to restore file.

Somethings not right

So the moral of this story is… wait, there is no moral to this story. where the hell is my checked out file ?

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