Undeleting things in Canvas

Surveyor
74 29 50.7K

I'm sure over 90% of people know some of these tricks but I always like to share stuff just in case someone doesn't know some ways to get things back in Canvas.

Recovering things in a course

As a former Blackabord admin I always got that cold feeling in my stomach when someone would call me to tell me they deleted a bunch of things out of their course by accident. Unless it was backed up I knew it would be an uphill battle to get it back. In Canvas however that is not as big of a deal.

Before these steps are laid out, please keep in mind that every Account Rep and tech support person I spoke to about this specifically told me that this is NOT 100%. So you may still be out of luck. Please keep that in mind if you try this and it doesn't work. If that happens a call to Canvas Support might be your best bet.

Step 1 -  Go the course in question.

Step 2 - Check the URL you should see something like this (your institution's name should be there)

Step 2.png

Step 3 - At the end of the URL, type /undelete

Step 3.png

Step 4 - Once you hit enter, you'll see a list of restorable stuff.

What to do if we're a Banner School and we have a course in our feed but it doesn't show up in Canvas

I'm currently working at a Banner School. Our integration has a combo of manual and automatic exports. We also currently cross list outside of Canvas so the cross listed courses with enrollments feed into Canvas rather than using Canvas to cross list (this is likely going to change). At any rate on occasion we run into this problem where we have an uncrosslisted section become cross listed. The uncrosslisted course was already deleted in Canvas but the new course will not show up. For a while this was quite puzzling but we have found a pretty easy solution. I believe this is because when the old course is deleted it marks anything with that information as deleted making the cross listed course automatically become deleted.

SO to fix.

Step 1 - Go in to the Admin Section/Reports

Step 2 - Run a Provisioning report for Courses within the given term.

You'll end up with a huge CSV, but the first column will contain the Canvas course ID which is a specific number for each course (You can find this ID in the URL, yourinstitution.instructure.com/courses/CANVASID.

Step 3 - In our case we can find both the uncrosslisted and the crosslisted course. In this case we need the crosslisted ID.

Step 4 - Canvas was awesome enough to add a course restore in the Admin Tools section. Just click there and paste that ID in there. Now you can pull the course back and you're all set.

This is also applicable to people if they have duplicate SIS id's or were disabled for some reason in the Banner feed. The only difference is it can take some editing of IDs and a SIS import to fix.

29 Comments
Community Team
Community Team

hollands@rowan.edu

Thank you so much for your thoughtful blog post.  I'm sure admins will find these very helpful.  I know that when I was an admin at a college, instructors thought I knew magic when i used the undelete trick.  However, i also learned that it can be tricky to decipher what content to undelete.  We do recommend that when undeleting content it is best to contact support!

Community Coach
Community Coach

Nice.  I've shared the /undelete trick with our instructors via the Canvas Dashboard...but now that you've got this write-up, I may have to refer people here instead!

Surveyor

chofer@morainepark.edu​ It's funny you mention that I typed it up partly because I was tired of sending around the same email haha!

Community Coach
Community Coach

I hear ya!  I say if you type it up so many times, why not put it in a document and then distribute it.  :smileygrin:

Community Team
Community Team

hollands@rowan.edu​ didn't you present on this at Instcon?  Cool hack any way you look at it.  Renee is right though.  The support techs are undelete ninjas so don't be shy about submitting a ticket and asking that they do it.  As you know sometimes what you want to undelete is unbundled in the list of stuff you see to potentially unbundle and you have to choose multiples before your quiz or other content type will work as before.

Surveyor

scottd@instructure.com​ me? nah, I'd never be brave enough to present at InstructureCon, but yeah we've found a good amount of success with a combo of us doing it and support. Our instructors at my institution usually don't need to but it's nice to give them some piece of mind that if they click on something accidentally it's not gone forever.

Community Team
Community Team

+1 to piece of mind!

Community Coach
Community Coach

I have to admit it's pretty awesome when a faculty member calls freaked out because they deleted their entire gradebook (well into the semester) and you are quickly and easily able to bring it back for them with all grades/comments/etc! Smiley Happy

Community Coach
Community Coach

This was NOT the case in our previous LMS. More like... uh oh, let's see if we have a recent back-up of that and it might take a while.

Community Member

I recently watched the video from InstructureCon 2014 that shared this undelete trick.  A few days later I found myself having to use it to undo a course that would have been royally messed up.  I'm so thankful that this trick is out there and now is written up for others to find.  Defcon 5 crisis averted.

Community Team
Community Team

Flashback to sitting on hold at my desk at the college....

Surveyor

OH yeah. I used to have to call the DBA (we were on site hosted) and usually got chewed out for even asking, then the restore would sometimes work and sometimes blow up the course. One time we did a restore and it blew up our entire test box. That was a fun afternoon.

Community Member

Shaun, thanks much for taking the time to post this.  We discovered this along the implementation path as well.

For us, we use the API to sync between Canvas and Banner, as well as an additional SIS.  All works well enough except deleted objects.  We submitted a feature request some time ago asking Canvas to enhance their API such that it will return deleted objects.  Currently we get stuck in a loop of:

1. Use API to create course section.

2. User deletes course section within canvas.

3. API returns "course section not found" on sync.

4. Our sync tries to recreate course section and API errors with "already exists".

5. AAAARRRGGGGHHHHHH

Our feature request link before the switch to the new community site:

API - return deleted records across all methods : Help Center

I've just now re-submitted the idea within this new community site:

-William

Community Member

I can't swear I'm the only one to share the undelete trick, but I did make it the centerpiece of my InstCon presentation last year. Most people were amazed and delighted. Thanks hollands@rowan.edu​ for posting this in the community. Although it's fun to have faculty think we have magical powers, having the information readily available is probably a greater benefit. Probably Smiley Wink

Surveyor

We have had a very similar experience. Overall I wish we got a little better error reporting. For example you go to manually create a user account in the admin panel. If you use an existing ID nothing happens, literally you can't click on anything. It would be so cool if it said ID already exists.

Community Member

Canvas should really explain that error - we've had to just guess as to why we couldn't create an account.

Surveyor

pkreemer@sbctc.edu​ very much agreed. Even if it was just a plain old, "error could not create" it would be better than me thinking my mouse is broken haha.

Lamplighter II

Thanks so much for creating this resource hollands@rowan.edu​! I will definitely be sharing this with our faculty. I can relate to cold feeling in my stomach. It happened often in the old system and was difficult if not impossible to recover.

Community Member

We live and die on this, lol, but be aware that there is a limit to the number of things that show up in /undelete, and if you've maxed that out you either have to restore the first few to get more to load (which is awful) or submit the old assignment ID to Canvas support and ask them to restore it for you. We've done so much moving around in our courses that we've maxed out the 50 or so assignments it will display on that page.

Community Member

I actually have been hesitant to share this widely because I am afraid it will reduce the care with which users delete items out of their course. It's like that little bit of gas left in the gas tank when the needle goes below "E." You should really never let it get that low but if you absolutely have to, it's nice that it's there.

Community Coach
Community Coach

LOL... I have to admit we do something similar. We don't widely share this information with faculty, but are always happy to go in and "fix" it and save the day! 🙂

Learner II

Hi,

For our college somehow this doesn't work, I went to the Restore Course, put in SIS ID but couldn't find it. Went to Logging , saw that I delete the course.

Can someone show me how please.

Thanks

Community Team
Community Team

Hi Quan,

Did you file a ticket with Canvas Support?  I would recommend that you do that if you haven't already.

Community Member

Shaun,

Nice post.  Is there any reason we should not spread this information to all teachers, not just admins?

Learner II

Scott Dennis  

I actually called Canvas and found out that I only to put the ID ( for my case, it is only 2 digits number) and then the deleted course shows

Learner II

Someone was just asking me about undelete and we discovered that it works in Groups, as well. She got a notification that one of her students had created a disturbing discussion topic within a group, and then deleted it before she was able to check and see who had created it. I was able to think of a couple of ways to get at the information, but undelete seemed like the quickest way. 

Incidentally, I made a quick demo video on undelete a few years ago. Feel free to use it if you like: 

Canvas Tip of the Week: Undelete - YouTube  

Community Member

Ooh, good catch! We don't use Groups all that much so I never had a need to try it. Good to know it will work!

Community Member

Thanks for alerting us to this nice feature. I wonder if Canvas have any plans to make /undelete available for personal lives as well? :smileyconfused:

Surveyor

Thanks

 

About the Author
Instructional Designer, Professional Singer, Retro Gamer, Cat meme expert.