How To Recover an Unsaved Microsoft Word Document

Many people who often work with Microsoft Word documents may from time to time face a quite unpleasant situation: after spending hours on typing and editing some text, the computer would reboot (because of a sudden blackout, an error or MS Word shutdown due to an internal error). What can you do in such a situation?

How To Recover an Unsaved Microsoft Word Document

Let us consider several simple ways to recover unsaved Word documents.

Automatic Recovery in MS Word

Whatever happens – a common error, a sudden reboot (without warning you), a power failure and a total blackout for your entire block of flats – the most important thing is never give way to panic!

By default, Microsoft Word is “smart” enough to try automatic recovery of the document (in case of a disorderly close-down, i.e. close-down without the user’s permission).

After a PC is suddenly shut down and then started again, the application usually suggests saving any unsaved documents. The picture below shows how it looks in MS Word 2016 (in other versions of MS Word, the picture will be similar).

Microsoft Word usually suggests saving any unsaved documents

Important notice! MS Word suggests recovering files only after the first restart after a disorderly closedown. That is, if you opened MS Word, closed it and then opened it again, it will not ask you about recovery options again. That is why I recommend you to save everything you need for further work, as soon as the application offers you to do so.

Recovery With Autosave Folder

Above, we mentioned that Microsoft Word is smart enough by default. If you haven’t modified its settings, the application will save the document automatically every 10 minutes to a “backup” folder (a kind of protection against emergency situations). It seems completely logical that the second thing you should do is to check if the lost document is in that folder.

How do you find it? Here is an example with MS Word 2016.

Click the menu “File / Settings” (see the screenshot below).

Microsoft Word document options

Then, select the “Save” tab. There we can find checkboxes we are interested in:

  • automatic saving of documents every 10 minutes (you can modify it to the value of 5 minutes, if you experience frequent power failures);
  • data directory for autosaving (that is what we need).

Just highlight and copy the address, then launch Windows Explorer and paste the copied data into the address bar. You may be lucky enough to find what you need in the directory that opens.

Auto save option in Microsoft Word

Recovery of an MS Word Document Deleted From The Disk

This method will help you in the worst cases, when you used to have a file on the disk but it has disappeared now. It can happen for a number of reasons: a viral attack, accidental deletion (all the more that Windows 8 and 10, for instance, do not ask by default if you really want to delete the file when you press Delete button), disk formatting etc.

There are a vast number of applications designed to recover files, but there only a few of them specialized to work with office document formats or Microsoft Word in particular.

Within this article, we would like to mention one of the best and at the same time simplest software products – Hetman Word Recovery, and its more comprehensive version designed to deal with all office file formats, Hetman Office Recovery.

What you should not do before recovery:

  • do not copy to the disk (where some documents/files were lost) any files, and try not to work with it;
  • do not format the disk (even if it is shown as RAW and Windows suggests that you should format it);
  • do not recover files to that disk.

Many people recover files to the same disk where they were lost from and which is scanned for lost files: it’s something you mustn’t do! The matter is that when recovering a file to the same disk it may be overwritten onto files which are not recovered yet. As a result, a part of such files may become unreadable (or partially unreadable).

Author: Maxim Cherniga

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