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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By chacha
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

thanks alot !!!!!!!!!!!11
very helpful

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You're welcome! I appreciate the feedback.

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By daragh
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

THANK YOU!!!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

My pleasure, thanks for reading.

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By AbuSaarah
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks a lot....
It saved my 2 hours work... I just closed the file mistakenly without saving...

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm glad my work helped you avoid redoing your spreadsheet!

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By Jess
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thank You!! I clicked no to save a document that had never been saved before. There wasn't even a starter file to go back to. But I followed your steps to the Manage Version tab right after I closed out and there it was, temporarily waiting for me to save it! Thanks so much.

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm so glad. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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By tcortel
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

What about a file from a few days ago? I worked on a file 9 days ago. printed it and didn't think I would need it again but now I do. Any advice?

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I think you'll have to recreate your file again. From what I've observed, unsaved workbooks linger for a couple of days, and then get automatically deleted. I've never stopped to try to figure out exactly how many days a file stays around, but it appears to be 3 or 4.

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By tiffanyima
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I could kiss you. Saved hours of work!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I must say, that's the most fun response I've ever gotten to one of my articles! I'm so glad that you found it helpful!

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By tiffanyima
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Haha I realize now that was a very awkward response but literally saved so much time

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

No worries, I'm glad you felt comfortable to speak freely. :-)

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By j
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

i recovered the files but the pictures attached inside are all missing

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

It's hard to diagnose exactly what happened, but one thing that comes to mind is that you could have added the pictures subsequent to when Excel last created the AutoRecover version. I don't typically incorporate pictures into my spreadsheets, so I can't attest to how well the AutoRecover feature preserves the fidelity of such documents. For what it's worth, It's always worked well for me with my documents.

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By liu
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I almost had a heart attack , thanks a lot :)

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Whew! I'm glad you found my article! Thank you for the feedback.

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By FU
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

CAN'T READ WITH AD BLOCKING.

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By justme
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

How about if excel starts "not responding"? All of a sudden, a "buffering" symbol started appearing and it has not gone away. I am not sure how soon you will see this but i am not sure whether to close the document or continue waiting or shut down the computer to later trigger the autorecovery feature.

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'd say at this point you're best off trying to force-close Excel and hope that it brings back an auto-recover version. Be sure to change the setting I mention to every 2 minutes down from the default of 10 minutes to vastly improve the odds of having an autorecover version in the future.

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By Justme
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thank you so much!! I had no idea about these features. Very helpful!

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By Justme
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

It worked! yes..I shut down the computer and it forceclosed everything. Oddly enough, I was able to open another excel document while that document was still "not responding". But I just did the forceclose and it worked. Thank you!!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing your experience, this will help others that happen across this article.

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By Amanda
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thank You. Thank You!!! God Bless you. You saved my butt..

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

My pleasure!

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By Elaine
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You've just saved us from having to redo an hour and a half's work. Thank you!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You're quite welcome. I'm glad you were able to find my article.

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By Suzanne
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Hi worked on a spreadsheet all day yesterday Autosave was on and still I lost all the data. It is saying there are no previous versions available. I work on this type of file everyday and never had problems. Its so urgent can anyone help. I cannot find a temp file either

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

It's unfortunate that you spent so much time on your document without saving it. A good habit to develop is periodically pressing Ctrl-S in Excel to save your work as you go.

The only other option I can suggest to you at this point is to use Windows Explorer to navigate to the folder where your file resided. Right-click on the file, and see if a Previous Versions command appears. If so, you might get lucky, otherwise you'll have to redo your work, which is a lesson I had to learn myself the hard way multiple times over the years. Good luck!

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By help
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Hi! i worked on a spreadsheet for two hours yesterday and thought i saved it. Every time i worked on this document it would creat an autosaved copy. i turned off my computer and the restore screen came up on the left but all of the autosavedcopies were there. I thought i chose to save the correct one and deleted the rest, but i picked the wrong one. I found it in my trash can and hit restore, but now i can't find it! any ideas?

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm sad to report that you've most likely lost your work. AutoSave is an imperfect feature that does not in any way replace the necessary discipline of periodically saving your documents.

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By Ted
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks for the info, save me hours of rebuilt.....

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Whew! I'm glad you recovered gracefully! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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By Chris
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

This is great information! Thanks!!!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thank you! I'm glad you found it helpful.

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By Kitty
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

THANK YOU!!!! I had even called our IT Help Desk about this and they told me there was nothing they could do. After reading this and a couple of clicks, I found my file!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Fantastic! Please be sure to pass the article along to your help desk folks. :-)

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By Jann
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Super helpful article! Thank you so much! Saved me at least 4 hours of re-work.

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Magnificent!

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By John
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Awesome, I was about to have a heart attack. Saved.

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm glad I could save the day for you. Thanks for the feedback!

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By caswalmac
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

My excel doesn't look like this! There's no "File" I don't know what to do!!

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You're using Excel 2007, and as noted above, the Recover Unsaved Workbooks feature was introduced in Excel 2010.

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By Amit Sharma
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

If you are using excel 2007 in that case you have to activate Auto Recovery option from Office button -> Excel Options -> Click Save tab -> Active AutoRecover information in every 10 minutes. I hope you like this answer. You can also logon on http://www.eknowledges.com/

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By Denis Frith
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I did not save an Excel2010 workbook yesterday. I tried to recover it using the procedure above. When I clicked on 'recover unsaved workbooks' a window asked for the workbook name. A message came up saying it could not be found. What did I do wrong?

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I don't think you did anything wrong per se. I haven't experienced the prompt that you encountered, and so unfortunately I can't diagnose what you experienced. It could be that one of the spreadsheets in the AutoRecover folder was corrupted, again it's hard to say without being there.

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By Denis Frith
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

As I was unable to recover the unsaved version, I have redone the editing that was lost. That took some hours! So now I will be more careful by saving after an edit. Thank you for considering my problem.

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By David Ringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm sorry to hear that. I've been in your position before. Do be sure to change the AutoRecover setting to every 2 minutes (down from the default of 10) to help raise the odds of having an AutoRecover version in the future.

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By jack
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

why the f*****g s**t do we have to log in the read this bloody article???

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