Recovering Unsaved Excel Workbooks


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It's every spreadsheet user's worst nightmare – you've worked on a workbook for a period of time, and then accidentally close it without saving. Or the power goes out, or Excel crashes . . . the list of spreadsheet hazards goes on and on.

If you're using Excel 2010 or later, there's a pretty good chance you can mitigate much – but not all – of the risk related to unsaved workbooks. Regardless, in any version of Excel, you can raise the odds of having a recovered copy of your work available after a software crash. As shown in Figure 1, Excel has long had an AutoRecover feature that's designed to help you recover unsaved workbooks should Excel crash.

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Thank you. I had saved the wrong version of a recovered word document and lost a lot of good work. Your solution is so appreciated because I got the document back.

I'm so glad to hear that! Thank you for taking a moment to share your experience.

HI David, I had my Excel workbook open that had been previously saved. I worked on the spreadsheet for an additional hour saving as I went along. The only caveat may be that I was updating this Spreadsheet during a Conference call and may have either pulled the Spreadsheet from the meeting invite in Outlook, or the file was already opened when I added it to the invite and began adding data shortly after; regardless it never saved, and when I finally closed the file and returned to it all of my updated data was gone. Hoping you can help me. :)

Type %temp% in the address bar of any My Computer or Windows Explorer Window and press Enter. This will but you into your Temporary Files folder. Outlook puts attachments that you open from an email in that folder. Search through and see if you can locate it. Beyond that I'm afraid I don't have any other advise. If you happen to find your file, please reply back so that others can benefit from your experience.

Thank you so much. That saved me a day's work!!!

Fantastic! Thank you for letting me know!

Did not know that there will be a option available in excel for recovering unsaved Excel Workbooks in Excel 2010 or later, Often most of the people lost their excel work because of software crash or un expected system shutdown but after adopting above solution they can now easily recover unsaved excel data in Excel 2010 or later version. If you face problem Excel file corruption in higher Excel Version then you can try this to overcome the problem.

many thanks..

I am happy I could help.

Is there any way to recover an excel file that hasn't been saved before. I saved it and it confirmed it was saved but when I went to look for it again Excel hadn't actually saved it...

I'm afraid that's highly doubtful. You can try searching your entire hard drive for the file name that you used, or type %temp% in the address bar of any My Computer or Explorer window and pick through your Temporary Files folder in hopes of finding it. In the Temporary Files folder it might have some gibberish name, so try to open anything that looks like an Excel file. Good luck!

I attempted to drag a file from one folder to another yesterday and somehow it disappeared. I've done file search to see if I might have dropped it into the wrong folder, but it doesn't turn up in a search. It still shows up in the Recent Workbooks list in Excel, but when I click on it I get "Excel cannot open the file because the file format or file extension is not valid." I'm at a loss ... any suggestions?

Moving a file outside of Excel has no impact on the Recent Workbooks listing, which only updates based on actions inside Excel. Check your Recycle Bin, as maybe you accidentally deleted it. Or if this file was on a network drive, your IT team may be able to restore a back-up for you. It's possible that file file has become corrupted. Now, for the file that's on your Recent Documents menu, if you hover your mouse over the file name Excel will show you the location of the file. Use the Open command to browse to that folder, and if the file is still there, click once on it, and then click the arrow next to the Open button and choose Open and Repair. That might enable you to recover your file. Good luck!

It wasn't in the Recycle Bin, or anywhere else that I could discover. Fortunately I was able to restore it from a back-up. I didn't know about the Open and Repair option, I want to remember that. I'm sure it will come in handy.

Whew! I'm glad you were able to recover your file. Open and Repair is one of my favorite hidden features in Excel. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.This will probably be helpful to others in the future.

Just saved me 2 hours of work! And who knows how many in the future! Thanks! MS got it right!

Fantastic! I'm glad you ran across my article, and thank you for sharing your experience.

Another thing I just realized and was saved by actually. I didn't recover but choose to delete. Luckily, I just checked the recycle bin and the file was there be named along the lines of "[filename] version x"

Good call on checking the Recycle Bin. Only documents originating from your local hard drive will end up there, but it's definitely a good place to check.

yes! thanks.