Lost a crucial file and need to get it back? These tips will help you recover your Office documents in no time at all.
Few things are more frustrating than losing access to a document that you’ve been working on for hours. Whether the file has been corrupted, deleted, or otherwise lost, it can feel like an enormous waste of time and effort.
Fortunately, files that you’ve created using Microsoft Office might not be as lost as they first appear. You can apply several techniques to bring your work back from the brink and avoid starting afresh.
Recover Lost Documents
Here are some tips on how to avoid disaster if it seems that you’ve lost an important Office document.
1. Use Document Recovery
Office 2016 comes with built-in features to help you recover your documents in the event that the software closes unexpectedly. This is the simplest method of getting your work back, so attempt this quick and easy procedure to see if it’s successful before you try any more complex methods.
As you can see above, I’ve foolishly clicked Don’t Save while exiting Microsoft Word, and I’ve lost a considerable amount of work on my document as a result. Fortunately, the application will temporarily hold a copy of the file in case of this occurrence.
To get it back, fire up Word once again and open a document — an earlier version of the file in question is ideal, but any will do. If you don’t see the document recovery pane as shown above, navigate to File > Manage Document > Recover Unsaved Documents.
You’ll be presented with a window displaying Office’s UnsavedFiles folder. Any documents that the software managed to recover will be present as ASD files — automatic backups used by the Office suite. As you can see, they’re unlabelled, so you’ll have to use the date they were last modified or trial and error to determine whether or not your document was rescued.
2. Reveal Temporary Files
Documents that have been corrupted or deleted sometimes leave behind temporary versions that contain most, if not all, the content of the original. These temporary files are typically hidden from the user, but it’s easy to uncover them once you know how.
Type File Explorer Options into the search bar and open the corresponding Control Panel result. Switch to the View tab and find the Hidden files and folders radio toggle in the Advanced settings section.
Change this toggle to Show hidden files, folders and drives, as highlighted above. Now, head to the folder where your corrupted or deleted file was saved and look out for file names that begin with a tilde and end with a .tmp extension.
Once you’ve found a file that matches your expectations in terms of file size and date modified, rename it and replace the extension with .docx for versions of Word post 2007 or .doc for earlier iterations. Open it up and see whether it’s the file you were looking for — and don’t forget to go back and change the radio toggle to Don’t show hidden files, folders of drives once you’re done.
3. Check the Recycle Bin
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook in a panic. Unless you’ve recently emptied it, your Recycle Bin will contain all files that have recently been deleted. That includes documents you’ve removed manually, as well as temporary files like the ones detailed in the above section of this article, so make sure your File Explorer Options are set to Show hidden files, folders and drives when you check in.
The Recycle Bin can be a real life-saver for users working with Microsoft’s online services like OneDrive and Office 365. If you’re using a personal account, deleted files can be recovered by heading to the Recycle Bin and using the Restore function. However, if you’re on an enterprise account, you’ll likely have to speak to an administrator in order to have the files recovered.
4. Use a Third-Party Utility
Lots of people use Microsoft Office, and lots of people end up losing their documents. As such, you have plenty of options if you’re willing to use a third-party solution to recover your work — but not all of these utilities are created equal. Here are two good packages to choose from.
Easy Office Recovery is a comprehensive method of rescuing your Office documents that’s simple and straightforward to use. The software will scan your hard drive for lost or corrupted files, and then offers a preview window so you can skim through and find the document you’re looking for — which can drastically reduce the legwork involved with hunting down these files yourself.
However, there’s one major drawback to the software: it doesn’t come cheap. A personal license will set you back $79.95, so you’ll have to consider how much your lost files are worth. However, there are free alternatives that can provide a similar result.
Recuva is a utility that offers its file recovery abilities for free, and only requires a licence for its preventative measures and some advanced functionality. Its user interface is a little more cluttered than Easy Office Recovery, but for the most part its a great substitute, if you need to accomplish the same task for free.
One advantage to using Recuva is that it can handle more than just documents created using the Microsoft Office suite, so in the event that you lose some music, photos, or anything else, you should be able to get them back with a minimum of fuss. There’s even a wizard to help inexperienced users through the process.
Prevention Might Be Easier Than the Cure
Before you find yourself in a situation where your document is gone and you’re tearing your hair out to find a solution, go through your Microsoft Office settings and make sure that you’re protected to the best of the software’s abilities.
Open up an Office program and navigate to File > Options. First, head to the Save section and make sure that the Save AutoRecover information every ___ minutes dropdown is set to a small amount of time, and that the Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving checkbox is ticked.
Next, head to the Advanced section and find the Save heading. Here, you’re going to check the box labelled Always create backup copy.
With these options enabled, you’re giving yourself the best chance of having a backup of your work, or a version that you can recover, if something goes awry. All it takes is a few clicks, but it could save you lots of time and effort further down the line.
Do you have a tip on how to recover Office documents? Or are you in need of help with a unique scenario? To offer or ask for assistance, head to the comments section below.