Imagine yourself working on a document, whether personal, education, or business-related, and pop, the computer goes off. A so-called “Blue Screen of Death”, hardware failure, power outage, software corruption, the reasons are many. But the result is the same – an unfortunate scenario that can set you back hours! Luckily, if you’ve been using Microsoft Word for your writing endeavors, all hope might not be lost… yet. There are a few things you should try before you commit to recalling what you already wrote and starting over from scratch.
Method 1. Use Microsoft Word Document Recovery
Microsoft Word has a feature that automatically saves the documents you are currently editing and allows you to recover them when the system crashes or the application closes unexpectedly. To use Microsoft Word document recovery tool, follow these steps –
- After your computer crashes for any reason with Microsoft Word open, the next time you open the software, you’ll see a window pop up on the left side, called Document Recovery. It can be present for approximately 10 minutes after a system crash.
- Underneath Available Files, you’ll see the date and time of the document(s), depending on how many versions were auto-saved.
- Right-click on the document you wish to save. Choose Save As… and pick a location on your drive.
- You can either manually Delete the documents you don’t need or simply click on Close.
This feature is available on almost all Microsoft products, including Excel. So, you can use this feature to recover Excel files as well.
Method 2. Recover a Word file using Temporary Files
If you are late to use Document Recovery, or the window didn’t pop up for some reason, here’s an alternative. There are two ways to do this. First, you need to make sure AutoRecover is enabled, which we described below in the Method 3. Secondly, you need to make sure hidden files can be seen.
- Open the Start bar.
- Type ‘hidden files’ and choose Show hidden files.
- Make sure Change settings to show hidden and system files is ticked.
- Click on Show settings.
- Make sure Show hidden files, folders, and drives is ticked.
- Click OK.
Steps to recover a temporary Word file directly
- Open Windows Explorer or This PC/My Computer.
- Navigate to C:\Users\Admin\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles\ – Make sure to replace “Admin” with the name of your local Windows 10 account, or the name on your Microsoft account, depending on what you use. Also, replace C: with the drive letter where your Windows is installed, if it isn’t there.
- You’ll see one or more files with the ASD extension. The file you’re looking for will be titled Doc1 or Document1, for example.
- You can copy the file to your desktop for your convenience. The way to open the file is the same as with AutoRecover, which we’re getting to in a moment.
Steps to recover a temporary file through Microsoft Word
- Open Microsoft Word (2010 and later)
- Click on File.
- Locate Manage Document. Once you click on it, select an option named Recover Unsaved Documents that appears in the drop-down list.
- A new window will open up. Check for a file that has the name of your document. We’ll use the AutoRecovery save of Document1.asd as an example.
- Once you click on it, it’ll open in Microsoft Word.
- A yellow taskbar will appear on the top of the Microsoft Word file, with the option to click on Save as.
- Pick a data path on your drive to save the file.
Method 3. Recover a Word file through AutoRecover
Once again, this is in case Document Recovery didn’t pop up after a crash. By following this guide, you can go after the file yourself.
How to turn on AutoRecover
First of all, Microsoft Word has an auto-save feature that will store the state of events in a pre-set period. For that reason, your first ring of defense is a built-in feature in Microsoft Word that can restore your document to the last auto-save version of the document.
- Open Microsoft Word (2010 and later).
- Go to File.
- Click on Options, and then on Save tab.
- Make sure the Save AutoRecover information every “X” minutes and Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving options are ticked. The “X” represents the number of minutes the document will be auto-saved, and you can change it manually.
- Press OK.
Steps to recover MS Word file with Auto-Recover feature
- Open Microsoft Word (2010 and later)
- Click File in the top left corner.
- Choose Options in the left panel, then Save.
- Copy the file path under the AutoRecover file location.
- Open Windows Explorer/This PC/My Computer, and paste the file path in the address bar.
- Locate the ASD document, typically named similarly to the name of your original Word document, such as AutoRecovery save of Document1.asd.
- You can copy it to your desktop for convenience.
- Above, we were limited to trying to open the ASD file through Microsoft Word. All that we could do is hope it works. This adds a second option.
- First try to open the Word file by going back to Microsoft Word, clicking on File, then Open, and then Recover Unsaved Documents at the bottom.
- Locate the ASD file on your desktop. Click Open.
- If it works right off the bat, great. If it doesn’t and gives you an error such as Word experienced an error… repeat the same steps. This time, instead of clicking on the button that says Open, right-click on the file and choose Open and Repair.
- It should work this time around. Simply use Save As to preserve the document.
Method 4. Check your Recycle Bin
Let’s consider this possibility now. To those of you who haven’t suffered a system crash, and accidentally deleted a Word file, it might still be in the Recycle Bin. Before you go any further, it is wise to check there. Who knows, you might have forgotten to empty it, and you only need to right-click and press Restore. In case of a complete hard drive format or hard drive failure, file restoration software is your only hope.
Method 5. How to recover a Word file using file recovery software
You can recover your lost Microsoft Word files using a good document recovery software. Because Word files are basically documents, these tools will work perfectly.
Steps to recover Word file using Piriform Recuva
In case no temporary file is available, you can try to search for it using a file retrieval software. Piriform Recuva is a top contender on our list of the best data recovery software for Windows, which is why we recommend it. Another reason we recommend is that it is completely free to use, and recovering files is unlimited. Plus, you will be able to narrow down the search to only documents, which will save you a lot of time. Here’s how to use it.
- Download and install Recuva.
- Open the software.
- Choose the file type you wish to scan for (documents) and the location (typically your C: drive).
- Click Next to begin a scan.
- Preview the results and look for the name of your deleted/temporary Word document. Look for DOC, DOCX, and ASD files that have that name.
- If there is a green circle next to it, it means the recovery was successful.
- Right-click on the file(s) and click Recover Highlighted…
- Choose the location for the output folder. We recommend your second drive or USB flash drive, to prevent the possibility of data overwriting.