You spent hours writing a document, and then your computer suddenly crashes. Thousands of words, hours of effort: disappeared in an instant. Unfortunately, this is a perfectly possible scenario that can sometimes arise when you write or edit a Microsoft Word document, especially if you haven’t saved the file.
Fortunately, like Google Docs, Word can and will automatically save your documents, even if you haven’t saved them yourself. Word will also try to help you recover changes to a file or recover damaged documents. If you are experiencing difficulties, here are some steps you can follow to recover your Word document before you lose it completely.
Using Word Document Recovery Features
If Word crashes without saving your document, don’t panic! If you’re using the latest version of Microsoft Word, you might be in luck, as Word’s built-in auto-repair features could automatically save your progress.
This feature means that in many cases, you can restore a damaged Word document to the last autosave point (usually every 10 minutes). While this won’t work for every document, it can help you recover files when Word is forcibly closed.
- To recover your Word document, open Word after a crash and create a new document. If AutoRecover files are available, Word will display them in the document recovery sidebar on the left, showing you when the file was created and prompting you to recover them.
- If you want to recover one of these documents. , click it in the side menu of document recovery. This will open it in a new Word window, where you can then save it correctly by clicking File> Save As.
- You can also check for autosaved Word documents by clicking File> Information> Document Management and then choosing Recover Unsaved Documents from the drop-down menu.
- In the Open box, you will see a hidden Word folder containing autosaved documents (saved in ASD file format). Select one from the list, then click Open to open it.
- After Word opens the recovered file, manually save it by clicking File> Save As or by clicking the Save button in the Recovered Unsaved File panel that appears below the ribbon bar. This will allow you to save your content in the standard Word DOCX file format.
Find Word Backup Files Manually
Word will automatically find all AutoRecover files, but this only works if you are trying to recover Word documents under normal conditions. For example, you can try to recover documents from a folder on a failed PC.
In this situation, you may need to search for Word backup files and manually restore them. Word typically places AutoSave documents in a hidden temporary folder that you can access outside of Word. ASD files with automatic repair can be opened here in Word as usual.
- To do this, open Windows Explorer. Word AutoRecover files are usually saved in the C: Users username AppData Local Microsoft Office UnsavedFiles folder (replacing the username with your account username). If there are no files here, try the C: Users username AppData Roaming Microsoft Word folder instead (replacing the username).
- Then you can move or open any of the autosave document files found here. Although ASD files are not standard document files, Word should have no problem opening them. You may need to select Word from the list How do you want to open this file? the window that appears, however, if you try to double-click the ASD file.
- After opening the files, click File> Save As to save the file as a standard DOCX file.
Change the frequency of Word AutoRecover save
By default, Word should automatically save a copy of your document every 10 minutes. You can change this setting yourself to increase the autosave frequency, but this will affect performance for much larger documents.
- To do this, open Word and click File> Options.
- In the Word Options window, click the Save tab. You can change the frequency of autosave by changing the Save Autosave Data Every x Minutes setting to a lower (or higher) number for x. The default is 10 minutes.
- Click OK to save.
After updating the AutoRecover settings, Word should start automatically saving documents that you edit more often. Then you can recover the Word document standardly using the methods shown above.
Recover corrupted Word document
Automatic Recovery is great for recovering the results of working with Word documents that could not be saved directly. However, if you want to repair a damaged Word document that you previously saved, you will need to follow other steps.
- First open Word and click File> Open> Browse. In the Open box, locate the damaged Word document file. However, instead of clicking Open as usual, click the arrow next to the Open button and then select Open and Fix.
- If the file can be recovered, Word will try to do so, allowing you to recover your document. However, if this cannot be recovered, you can try to extract text from the document file by selecting Recover Text from Any File as the file type, next to the File Name option, and then clicking Open as Standard.
These steps are not reliable, but if the Word document has been damaged, you can use them to repair it or extract the content into a new document.
Use OneDrive to store documents
However, if these steps did not work, you may have to prepare for the fact that your progress has been lost and your file cannot be recovered. While not a fix, you can use OneDrive as a place to save any future documents to mitigate this risk.
Using OneDrive does not guarantee that future Word documents will not or may not be damaged. However, it can help you recover Word documents if the local file is lost or damaged, especially if your computer crashes and you have to reinstall Windows
If your hard drive fails, you can quickly download Word files from OneDrive cloud storage instead, saving you time.
Plan and create better documents in Microsoft Word
Knowing how to repair a Word document can help you save hours of your time, but the best fixes are the ones you make before you start. Saving the file to OneDrive (or using Word Online
If you have upgraded to a newer version of Word, you may need to convert your Word documents to a newer document format such as DOCX. DOCX files are smaller, better formatted, and optimized for the latest releases of Word, greatly reducing the chance of Word crashing, especially for large documents.