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jds91md
New Member

modules deleted from my course, how do I recover?

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Hi folks,

  Longtime happy Canvas user.  I have a course which I share with a dozen other educational programs at different sites.  I'm the Admin, the Designer, and a Teacher.  All other educators are Teachers, too, thus many people have privileges to edit stuff.

  Anyway, this morning a collaborating colleague emailed me, "what happened to the lessons on X, Y, and Z?"  I opened my course and discovered that numerous modules seemed to disappear.  I used the URL/undelete trick found reading here on the Canvas guides to find that numerous materials were in fact deleted yesterday morning.  But it doesn't say who deleted them.  Can I find out?

  I restored my deleted modules.  But restoring a module just creates the empty module with same title and settings.  It does not seem to remember the content.  My learning modules were subjects with quizzes and a few documents to read and a few links to outside materials for learners to review.  I don't remember the EXACT materials in each module.  I've rebuilt them as best as I can, but I know I'm missing at least a few things.  So my biggest question is...

-->  Can I see the details of some old version of my course, perhaps as recently as last week, so as to see exactly what materials (documents, links, quizzes, etc.) were in each module so I can rebuild the restored versions?

  Finally, for the future, can I periodically "archive" or "backup" the course as it is so that I could more easily restore it if someone by mistake deletes stuff?

Thanks,

-- Joshua Steinberg MD

1 Solution
kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @jds91md ​, have you looked at your Canvas test environment? The content should still be on the test site because the test site only updates (refreshes) every couple of weeks or so. You could then use the test site for comparison purposes or if needed you could download a copy of the content and re-upload it into your real course. [Side note, we've actually had to do this before!]

If you're not sure how to access your test environment check out this guide - How do I access my Canvas test environment? 

Hope this helps!

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17 Replies
Stef_retired
Community Team
Community Team

Thankfully,  @jds91md ​, it's been a while since I had to use the "undelete" feature; my notes on the process tell me that only the last 25 items that were deleted will appear on the undelete page, and that If something is not showing up on the restore page it's best to submit a ticket as there are additional things the technical support team can do to help you retrieve those items.

In addition, since you're an admin--and if it is your intention to identify how the items came to be deleted in the first place--you can go to each individual teacher's user profile and check their URLs and page view activity during the suspect period if you can narrow that down.

You can export a backup to an .imscc file as often as you'd like; the backup will include the course content, but not the users or their assignment submissions. I try to remember to back up my Gradebook periodically as well by exporting it to a .csv file. You'll find the instructions here: How do I export a Canvas course?

I have not used the “undelete” in a long time either. To anyone who may not know about the “undelete” feature I found a couple of links online from Western Washington University and Alamo Colleges that explains it a little bit more.  It does give you the warning “Keep in mind that some items may have lost some of their associated data when they were deleted. Make sure you confirm the results of any restores you perform”. I went in and practiced a little with it and deleted some modules and then used the “undelete” and was able to bring the modules back but without any of the content in them. The content was still there, I just needed to add it back into the module using the + (add) button at the module level but understand that it could be difficult to remember everything that is in the module (especially if you have a lot of information).

tdelillo
Community Champion

Yes, the modules thing is one of the caveats I always give people when I tell them about undelete. I use the analogy that the module is like a cardboard box. You delete the box, and all the stuff falls out (but isn't itself deleted). Once you restore the box, you have to put all the stuff back in it.

 @tdelillo ​, cool analogy! :smileyplus:

DaleDrees
Community Champion

Awesome Tracey DeLillo ! You know that is the best analogy I have heard for deleting a module!

chastinec
Community Contributor

WOW

Is the undelete option limited to certain roles in Canvas?

Thank you,

C

0 Kudos

chastinec​, I've never had a problem using "undelete" in the teacher role (which is to say, it can be used by admins, course designers, and teachers). If your role allows you to delete a page or other content item, in theory, you can use the undelete functionality. Keep in mind, though, that it is deemed "not fully supported" and it does not work 100% of the time. The official way to retrieve inadvertently deleted content is to submit a help ticket to Canvas.

chastinec
Community Contributor

stefaniesanders Thanks...sounds like one of those hidden gems best used by our support people than all users Smiley Happy

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @jds91md ​, have you looked at your Canvas test environment? The content should still be on the test site because the test site only updates (refreshes) every couple of weeks or so. You could then use the test site for comparison purposes or if needed you could download a copy of the content and re-upload it into your real course. [Side note, we've actually had to do this before!]

If you're not sure how to access your test environment check out this guide - How do I access my Canvas test environment? 

Hope this helps!

Test environment?  Test environment?  Sounds too good to be true!

Never heard of that.  Will check it out right away.  Thanks!

-- Josh

kona
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @jds91md , I've thought that myself a time or two, but it normally works pretty well! Please let us know if this provides what you need!

OH... MY... GOODNESS!  Wow, Canvas is amazing, it has every feature that I would want the moment that I need it!  This is amazing!  A snapshot of my course as it was a couple weeks ago before I lost content!  This is just amazing!

Thank you all SOOOOOOOoooooo much for pointing me towards these amazing tools, folks!

Best,

-- Josh

DaleDrees
Community Champion

Awesome!

ejackson
Community Champion

I used the Test site a couple of weeks ago to help one of our instructors who had deleted a Module out of a Fall course that was being built. It worked great.

tdelillo
Community Champion

I used it right after our last refresh also. A teacher had everything perfect in her course on the Friday before the new release, and then went in on Monday and accidentally imported a bunch of stuff she meant to put in a different shell. It happened to be perfect timing that the test environment version had just been refreshed between her finishing building the course and her big oops. We just wiped it and replaced it with the export from the test environment. She was so happy!

dave_perry
Community Member

Why is there not a 'restore full backup'? Our old VLE (self hosted) did this every 24 hours, if there'd been a change in that course in the previous 24 hours (to content or user activity) - and we could restore these from files.

So to us, losing this feature is a degradation - which I shall be logging as a bug (we had to call on /undelete today, and because it didn't put everything back as it was it can't really be called a proper restore tool).

0 Kudos

Hey  @dave_perry 

We've had a couple conversations about Undeleting things in Canvas‌ now, so I know you're familiar with it!  I did want to suggest another method to restore content (other than contacting support of course - they are the ultimate restorers of content!).  

Every instance of Canvas has a beta environment.  The beta environment is overwritten with data from the production environment every Saturday, which means it is often a great archive of your course.  When I was an admin at a local community college the beta environment was usually the first place I looked when I needed to locate content to restore.  If I didn't find it there, then I used the other resources available!  Here are the steps to restore from beta

  1. Access the Canvas beta environment as an instructor
  2. Export the Canvas course that has the content you need 
  3. Go back to your live production course
  4. And this part is very important - or you could end up with a mess!Select the specific content you need from course import.  If you do not select the specific content you'll end up with duplicates of everything.

So, now you have a lot of tools in your belt!  I do want to leave you with a couple words of wisdom related to these:

  1. When in doubt, test it out!  Use the beta environment for testing--rather than your live course.  This could save you from needing things undeleted/restored in the future!
  2. Restoring content is complex, use support.  I know that it sounds simple in theory, but there are a lot of moving parts when adding a piece of content back in that was removed.  There are a couple tools to help, but support is the ultimate tool.