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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About David Ringstrom, CPA

David Ringstrom

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.

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By Alec
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Saved my life! Thank you!

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By David Ringstrom
to anthonym
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Nice! Thanks for the feedback!

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By Susan
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I accidently replaced an Excel file with the original version of it (the first day I created it) and so all my work is gone. And when I go to the Excel file it says no other versions exist (because it is now the file from the first day I created it). Is there anyway I can go back to the files I had yesterday so I can get the most recent version? Or is there any other solution?

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By Dave
to RebeccaTorelli
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

did you have any luck on how to recover it? i am facing the same problem now.

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By guest
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Very helpful, it worked perfectly. Thanks!

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By gagan
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks a lot

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By Morgan
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I'm pretty sure this was written years ago, but it sure helped me today!!!! Thanks! You saved me!

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By David Ringstrom
to alicewright
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

I wrote it 18 months ago. I'm so glad you were able to recover your work. Thanks for the feedback!

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By Drew
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

What about Microsoft Excel on a iMac? Anyway of recovering. I have saved the document, but it is no where to be found?

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By Shaik
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks Worked for Me, great

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By David Ringstrom
to khansaab
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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By Lajaras Mhaske
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Hello Mr. David I had lost a Sheet In Excel Workbook how can i recover it.

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By David Ringstrom
to johngflynn657
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You cannot undo deleting a worksheet. Your only recourse is to locate a previous version of the file that contains the sheet you wish to retrieve and then move it into your "live" copy of the workbook.

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By Aniiket
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Oh man! You saved the day! I, never, on my life knew that recovering usaved files (that you'd specifically instructed to not save) was possible.

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By David Ringstrom
to jamer
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

It's so easy to click "Don't Save" on the wrong file when you have several open at once. I'm so glad you found my article helpful! Thanks for the great feedback.

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By Ashok
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

thanks a lot my dear

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By David Ringstrom
to RickyAdrien
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You're welcome! I'm glad you found my article helpful.

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By Neville
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

What a star, you have saved my day, many thanks for the above.

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By waqar
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

how to recover on last date saved excel worksheet if i saved today

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By Finlay
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Thanks! Saved me a couple of hours. Appreciate you taking the time to share.

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By Eben
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

This saved me today. Thank you Microsoft.

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By Dragana
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You saved me. Thanks a lot.

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By Bex
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

Very useful, thanks!

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By RJSS
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

You are a life saver - Thanks very much.

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By David Ringstrom
to dringstrom
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I'm happy I could help!

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By RC
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Thank U so Much, u saved me 5 hrs of work :)

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By Janette
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Hi guys. Downloaded an xls file to update it. saved it as i went along. Frequently!! Closed it to send it back and cant find it. No computer guru!!! Can you advise in plain speak xxxxx Janette

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By David Ringstrom
to boliver
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Go back to your web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, etc) and press Ctrl-J. This should open your Downloads folder and you should see your file there. If Ctrl-J doesn't work, look in the menu for a command that opens the Downloads folder. You should also see a shortcut to the Downloads folder in Excel when you choose File, and then Open, look along the left-hand side of the window.

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By Christine
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

Hello David
I'm not sure you can help me but after reading your well written article I have hope you may understand my problem below. I've followed your instruction but the option to 'File' 'Info' is greyed out.
I have Excel 2013.

I need help with 2 Excel spread sheets that have gone blank! I was working on 3 separately saved workbooks with multi worksheets simultaneously copy and pasting formats and formulas when suddenly 2 have gone blank! 1 is working fine. At the time they went blank ironically I had just finished making my final edits and saved them. I have no idea what to do.

I logged out logged back in but to no avail. I selected recover and the 2 workbooks in question popped up in a recovery window so I chose save as and changed the name but when opened they were still blank. I asked some one to test the workbooks on their computer and they had the same problem so it isn't a hardware of software problem, it's a file problem.

When you look at the information about both workbooks where it is saved on my desktop, they both show that there is data and the size of the data last saved. I have spent a couple of days updating these workbooks and they are saved to the last edit and whilst I can redo one in a couple of days the other would need to be started from scratch as it is not backed up and that's a mammoth task due to the detail involved.

Any ideas, I really cold do with some help.

Thanks
Christine

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By Dinesh Agarwal
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I was working on a new file which was not saved hence it had name book1. My excel crashed and i lost this file. Is there any way I can recover it?

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By David Ringstrom
to EliseoBattey
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

If it's not in your Unsaved Documents folder as illustrated in Figure 2 then I'm afraid not.

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By Martin Tyson
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

I was working on an excel file on a long flight. I saved it to my onedrive (cloud) while in flight but not connected to the internet. It said it would save it and upload when online. When I got online later, the file failed to upload. Is there anyway to recover that? I can only seem to pull up the file from before I got on the plane. This was hours of work :(

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By Barbara
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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.

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By David Ringstrom
to Jim Lukaszewski
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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

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By Karim
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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. :)
Thanks,
Karim

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By Olaf Burch
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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 http://www.techrepublic.com/bl.... to overcome the problem.

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By Gabs
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

many thanks..

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By Sinead
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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...

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By Susan Akula
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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?

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By benjithehunter
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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

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By frostymarvelous
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

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"

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By r
Jun 26th 2015 01:12

yes! thanks.

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Mar 25th 2016 14:35

I train others to use Excel, so there is no way this should have happened to me.

I created a file and attached it in an Outlook email. Then I had a bright idea to make some serious edits. Twice the amount of work as the original. Then I OPENED THE FILE I ATTACHED TO THE EMAIL.

Autosave? Check. Every ONE minute.
Click SAVE as I go? Check. It has become a habit.
SAVE THE FILE IN THE ORIGINAL LOCATION? [***]!

I went back to my sent mail hoping to see the file I had put so much work into. My original file (without my edits) was attached. I went to my Autosave folder. Nothing.

Moral of this story? Even folks who consider themselves Excel experts can have a bad day and do things improperly. Now I want to drink myself drunk!

Back to work!

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By Arunraj
May 1st 2016 06:20

Thank you so much :) Very much useful !!!

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Jul 28th 2016 15:46

Thanks a lot,,
I just registered in this awesome website especially to thank you for this helpful tips.

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Sep 27th 2016 16:53

Fix corrupted Excel XLs or xlsx file and repair all data of excel file. Use third party Excel repair tool and recover all data files and save them in new accessible excel file format. Read more- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-repair-corrupted-excel-xlsxlsx-file-a...

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Mar 19th 2017 20:07

I am using a mac computer. There is no info option on the dropdown menu. any suggestions?

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By lms458
Mar 31st 2017 14:07

I still can't find my document, even after following the above steps.

I had to have closed the document without saving, therefore, there isn't a previous version to reference.

Any other suggestions?

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By korkmaz
Apr 13th 2017 05:26

Hi. I have been using an excel file that I have created 5 years ago. I actually have back up copy belongs to March 9th which is over a month and I have made lots of changes on this excel work book.
Today, while it was plugged to laptop, I turned laptop off. When I came home, I opened laptop and file was open. I wasnt sure If I saved it. So I did ctrl+s and removed flash disk to plug my other laptop which connected tv. However, that excel file is lost. I did recuva, easeUS and tried some other receover, cant see. Office version I have is 2007.
I will be appriciate if anyone can help.
When I try to open file from recent files, its says there is no files on this name.
Could not find file, name changed or ............

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Oct 10th 2017 00:06

Thank you so much!
Best wishes!

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