Restore “Lost” Microsoft Office Documents

Let’s face it, no matter how experienced a computer user you may be, sometimes unexpected things happen in Microsoft Office programs that may cause you to lose the work you’ve put into a document.

This can happen for a variety of reasons. For instance, you may be working on many documents at the same time, and when you go to close an application you may not remember to save changes on all the documents you’re working on.  Or, sometimes things happen that are not under your control, like a sudden power outage when a storm strikes and the lights go out unexpectedly for a few minutes. Maybe you’re working on a laptop and forgot that your battery was really low and all of sudden your screen goes black. Worse yet, when you get the power restored, you’re faced with the prospect of redoing work on a document, wasting your valuable time doing the same work again.

Thankfully, there is a feature built into the most recent versions of the Microsoft Office suite (2010 and 2013) that can save you a lot of grief and time – if you know where to look for it.  The feature is called “automatically saved drafts,” and it works like this:

By default, while you are working on a file, Microsoft Office programs (like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) automatically save a draft version of your file whether you click the Save button or not. Therefore, if you have a document open for a long time and you check the File Tab/Backstage, View/Info screen, you will see a list of versions that are saved every ten minutes as illustrated below:Restore Lost Microsoft Office Documents

The beauty of this feature is that if a document is closed accidentally or unintentionally, the last (latest) version is always retained, and can be recovered with just a few mouse clicks.

So, let’s say that the document you’re working on is suddenly closed due to a power outage, or that at the end of a busy day, you forget to properly save changes to a document. All you have to do is re-open the document and then click on the File Tab. If you look on the Info screen, you will see the last version that was closed without saving as illustrated below:

Restore Microsoft Office

You will then be placed into the document and see a banner across the top of your document notifying you that your document changes have been recovered. All you have to do is click the button marked “Restore” and all of the changes you made to the document (except those made in the last 9 minutes between automatic saves) will be restored into the document.

Restore Microsoft Office Documents

Hopefully, you already “save early and save often,” and maybe you’ll never have to deal with a sudden power outage, but it’s nice to know the Microsoft Office has your back!


  1. Mark Collier says:

    While this all makes sense, none of this is applicable to Visio2013. With autosave on, when it crashes, which is quite often, there is no saved copy. All your info above about File- Info- Versions does not exist in visio.
    I have been to many google results and have yet to see anything that is an actual help.

    Frustrated to the nth degree…

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