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Recover Unsaved Office Documents: A Guide for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Users

Updated: Feb 12

Woman working on her computer
Woman working on her computer

Introduction: You thought you saved your Word document when you clicked on the save button. However, you might not have waited long enough for the action to complete, a sudden power outage interrupted the action, or you might have mistakenly overlooked the prompt when you decided to close the Office application asking you if you want to save your work. And you clicked on No...

The good news is that your work may still be recoverable! Although it may not always work, you can still try to recover your unsaved Word document or another Office file like an Excel workbook or a PowerPoint presentation using the temporary files created in such cases. In this post: Recover Unsaved Office Documents: A Guide for Word, Excel and PowerPoint Users, we will explore several ways to recover those files and how to save your work in a more secure way to always remain on the safe side.

Ways to Recover Unsaved Office Documents:

1. First Option: Open Word, Excel, or PowerPoint and look for the side pane asking you if you wish to restore the file or files in action. Go over them and see if anything there is relevant. In case the file is relevant, quickly save it. We recommend saving it in at least two locations in case one of them becomes unavailable (such as due to hard drive failure, corrupted thumb drive, or loss of internet connection). To do this, you can use the SOS Click add-in for Microsoft Office, which allows you to save to multiple destinations.

2. Second Option: Look for the temporary file folder where each Office application saves an auto backup copy of your work. The paths are as follows (for Windows 7, 10 and 11) with colors representing the respective Office application, i.e Word is blue, Excel is green and PowerPoint is orange:

  • For Word: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word

  • For Excel: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel

  • For PowerPoint: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\PowerPoint. However, for this method to work, you need to ensure you enable the AutoRecover function as in the following screenshot:

3. Third Option: The best way to avoid such occurrences is to always save your work across several locations, minimizing the risk of losing files. For this reason, SOS Click, which works with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, enables you to set up multiple places for saving your work. The add-in also supports various auto-save functions, including auto-saving to your mailbox (Gmail, Office 365, or other platforms), ensuring your work is always accessible both locally and online in the cloud.

Please keep in mind! Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and similar ones do go down and users could find themselves without their files at the least favorable moment.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to combine the best of both worlds: local storage and cloud storage as also suggested by this article from the StarTribune when using Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or your favorite cloud service.

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