How to replace a file in Google Drive with a new version

This article is about how to update a file that you have loaded to Google drive. It only applies to files that have not been converted to Google Docs format - for example, PDF, Word, Excel etc files.

New versions vs new files in Google Docs

On a couple of my blogs, I provide files that people can download and use themselves.

When you share a file in this way, there are three main issues to consider:
  • Where to put the file
  • How people will find it
  • What format to use.

Today, Google Drive is the most obvious file hosting option for people using Blogger. (A file host is somewhere that you can put files which Blogger cannot upload - see File Hosting options for Blogger for more details and other alternatives.)

I thought a lot about the best format to use for these files: if I convert them to Google Drive (AKA Docs) format, they won't count against my file-storage quota, and everyone has access to Google Drive/Docs.  But not everyone has a Google account, or access to Docs at the time when they want to work on the file. And some people might struggle with using Word tables and formatting. So in the end, I decided to stick with MS Word and PDF formatted versions, for now at least.

And I tell people about these files by writing a blog post (eg "Table Quiz Answer Sheets") introducing the template, and put a link to each files in it (eg like the picture on the right for the PDF version - for info about how I did this see "Putting text and pictures side by side" ).

However I know that some people choose to note / bookmark / share / etc the location of the file, rather than the blog post. This is fine by me: the point of my blog is to provide tools, templates and advice. I ENsure that there is branding and a link to my blog on the downloaded files, so everyone who sees the printed version knows about my blog.   But I'm not fussed if some repeat-business goes directly to the files - I think they'll come back back to my site when they need advice or a different template.

But what happens if I want to change the file, for example to fix a typo that was missed originally, or to add a new feature?

If I just upload a new Word or PDF file to Google Docs then the links to this file will be different - even if it has the same name as a previously uploaded file.   People who go directly to the original file file will get the old (wrong) version - or even worse, I'll delete it and they will have a broken link.

However I've found that if I use Google Drive's tools for loading a new version of the file, then people with the link will always go directly to the latest version - and I can choose whether to keep the older versions inside Drive, or to delete them.

How to load a new version of a file to Google Drive

Log in to Google Drive, using the Google account that owns the document.

Navigate to the folder that the file is in.

Tick the document that you want to replace or update

Select More, from the navigation options bar above the list of documents

Go to Manage Revisions

Upload your updated version, using the Upload New Revision link:

If you want, delete the older non-current one using the "x" checkmark to the right hand side of the screen.

Job done:  anyone who goes to the existing file link will now get your most-recently-uploaded version of the document.


If there is no "Manage Revisions" option, then most probably the file is in native Google Docs format rather than another like Microsoft Word or PDF.   In this case, you need to edit it on-line.  Unfortunately I haven't found a way to temporarily leave the old, unedited, version available to any one who looks at the file before you have finished opening it.   This could be particularly annoying if you want to make a lot of changes -  in this case, it may be best to convert the file back to a downloadable format (Word, etc) and work on it locally before re-uploading and then copy-and-pasting te new contents back to your original file.

Can this be done with the Drive desktop software?

The short answer is: I don't know.

 I have multiple Google accounts, for different blogs, so I've decided that it's safest to always use the web-browser based tools to manage files in Drive, rather than try to work with different accounts on different areas of my local file store.

If you do know, please leave a comment below.

Other options?

I'm certain that there are othr tools in which it's easier to replace an existing verison of a file with a new one without changing the link to the file.    The following notes discuss the ones I've tried so far.

Google Sites

Originally I used "filing cabinet" pages in Google Sites to store the files which I make available. This has a couple of advantages:

If you upload a new file with the same name, then
  • The link does not change
  • The sharable link includes the original file-name, which makes it easier for me to be sure that I'm putting the right link into my blog posts.

However, Sites isn't Google's preferred way of managing documents now and I have a nasty feeling that one day it may go the same way as Google Pages, Reader, Picnik, etc.  So I decided a while ago to stop using Sites for this.

Related Articles:

File Hosting - places to store files that you use in your blog

Understandiing Google Accounts

Showing things side-by-side in Blogger
How to replace a file in Google Drive with a new version