How to Recover Microsoft Office Excel, Word or Powerpoint Files


Losing work can be gutwrenching. AutoRecover for Microsoft Office is an amazing feature that allows you to recover Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. Let’s review how it works!

The frustration of losing work to a computer crash is possibly one of the most disheartening feelings a professional can get hit with. Luckily technology has advanced in a way that has lessened the chance of losing work. Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, for example, allow you to both repair your documents and spreadsheets as well as automatically take backups of your un-saved documents. Let’s review the feature as well as where you can find your lost work after a crash!

Update: If you’re running an older version of Office, check out our article using the Auto Recover feature in Office 2010.

Recover Office Documents

Microsoft Word is one of the most widely used programs within Office. So whether you’re a professional who needs their work back or a student desperately trying to recover their 10-page paper, it’s a lot easier to recover files with the last several versions of Microsoft Office.

Recover a Word Doc

Open Word, Go to File > Open, and Click the Recover Unsaved Documents button.

This should have your document in a folder ready to open. Typically with the newer versions of Word, when you restart from a crash, the Office program will actually ask you if you want to open unsaved documents.

Recovering Excel Workbooks and PowerPoint Presentations

The great thing about the current version of Microsoft Office is that the options are all very similar with slight differences for certain features and aspects, but recovering a document is the same process no matter what program you use. So whether you’re in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, the steps are the same, the names of the documents are different. In Excel, it’s a Workbook, and in PowerPoint, it’s a presentation.


Although enabled by default, I recommend everyone confirm AutoRecover is enabled and creating backups, so you don’t have to take any extreme measures to recover your unsaved files in case of a computer crash or unexpected restart. To do this, go to File > Options > Save and make sure that you check the box next to where it says Save AutoRecover information every 10 minutes. The default setting here is 10 minutes; however, feel free to change this to whatever you personally prefer. Five minutes is good enough to ensure that my files will be there after a crash.

Keep in mind that these apps are part of the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) suite of Office programs. With a subscription, you also get 1 TB of storage for each user too.



  1. Mavis

    March 5, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    An alternative method of recovery to consider, since I know from experience that Microsoft’s built-in file recovery can be wonky sometimes – keep your files on Dropbox. The ability to recover files (or restore old versions of files) via Dropbox has saved me, well, tens of times at least.

  2. Greg

    March 7, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Yes indeed, Microsoft’s built-in file recovery IS wonky.

    or search for “Excel 2016 AutoRecover not working – NO files being saved to the AutoRecover File location

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