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Is there any kind of versioning for lists, or is an entry gone forever when deleted?

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It could be restored from the recycle bin. Please check article below for broad understanding versions and recycle bin.

Note that versions protect you restore previous version of item/document whereas recycle bins help you restore deleted item/document.

Plan to protect content by using recycle bins and versioning (SharePoint Server 2010)

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Recycle bin works in SharePoint 2010. If you're on SharePoint 2007, you're out of luck. Restore the entire site from backup and then grab the data you need.

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I'm curious about your SP2007 comment. List items are recycled in SP2007, right? – Rob Wilson Feb 29 '12 at 4:03
Thanks for calling me out on this. I had a relapse... 2007 introduced it, I was thinking of 2003... tough getting old. – David Lozzi Feb 29 '12 at 13:39
Right there with you. – Rob Wilson Feb 29 '12 at 14:53

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