Did you lose your After Effects project data, and do you need it back? Although Adobe has a failsafe, you must have taken some precautions such as adjusting software settings or creating a backup of the files the software generated. Even if you didn’t, there is still something you can do, which we explained in method 5. We only want to clarify that preparation is key to the safety of project files, and teach you how to prevent future data loss while helping you mitigate the existing one. With that acknowledged, let’s get into the ways to recover Adobe After Effects files.
What are Adobe After Effects (AEP) files?
AEP files are files with an .aep or .aepx file extension generated by the After Effects software to contain all necessary project data. The AEP file includes anything the software needs to restore a project from the moment it wa
s saved. That includes information about compositions, which are groups of layers, and individual layer content, such as footage sources (file paths and names), usually images, animations, and videos, and graphics and video effects. This file also stores data about attributes such as comments, chapter points, and cue points. The difference between AEP and AEPX is that .aep files contain binary project data while .aepx contain XML project files based on XML (Extensible Markup Language) text binary data.
Can you restore a deleted or unsaved AEP (Adobe After Effects) file?
Yes, you can restore an unsaved or deleted AEP file. The unsaved one is protected by built-in, enabled-by-default tools for automated saving in Adobe After Effects. Even if the file gets corrupted, you can look for an earlier version using Windows utilities or data restoration software. If the AEP project file gets erased individually or as part of a storage format, you can use data recovery software to get it back.
1. How to recover After Effects files using Auto-Save
Adobe Auto Recover, also known as Auto-Save, is an inbuilt utility of some programs in the Adobe software suite, which includes After Effects. We will show you how to enable it or check if it’s enabled, and the steps to follow to restore your project.
1. Enable Auto-Save in Adobe Effects
Auto-Save should be enabled by default and configured to save your projects every 20 minutes. However, it doesn’t hurt to double-check or turn it on for future data loss during a power failure or a computer crash. You can activate Adobe Auto-Save in After Effects by following these steps:
- Open Edit in the top menu.
- Go to Preferences.
- Find the Auto-Save option in the left sidebar.
- If there’s a checkmark in front of “Save every X minutes” and “Save when starting render queue”, you can restore your AEP files. Otherwise, putting checkmarks in front of those options will only secure your future projects.
- Optional. Reduce the time of automatic saving to, say, 5 minutes. You can also increase the number of auto-save versions from 5 to a higher number.
- Click the OK button to save changes.
2. Use Auto-Save when you close Adobe Effects or it crashes
If the box in front of the auto-saving features was checked, you can restore the After Effects data by:
- Closing After Effects if it’s open. Otherwise, launch After Effects.
- The software will detect an auto-save file and give you a prompt. Click OK to proceed.
- If the software loads the project properly, it will open with all data restored.
- Click File in the top menu.
- Select Save as and choose a new name and location for your recovered project.
2. Retrieve AEP file projects using Recent Files
Adobe has a Recent Files feature that will memorize a few projects you last worked on. However, these disappear after some time following a system crash or an unexpected close of the software. If it hasn’t been too long since you worked on the project in Adobe Effects, you can use Recent Files to restore it like this:
- Relaunch After Effects.
- Go to File in the main menu at the top.
- Hover over the Open Recent option.
- Click the offered file path for the project-name.aep. You can also use displayed shortcuts starting with Ctrl + Alt + Shift + P (Windows) or Control + Alt + Shift + P (Mac)
- The software will now open your project. Preserve it by selecting File → Save as like in steps 4 and 5 above.
3. Use an After Effects Backup to restore project data
Sometimes the software doesn’t detect AEP files during launch or load them as recent. Yet, 5 versions of the project exist. In that case, you can look for the After Effects project backup manually and recover the files manually with these instructions:
- Open Edit → Preferences → Auto-Save again.
- Instead of configuring the feature, check the file path at the bottom of the menu. Whether you selected Next to Project or Custom Location, the file will be in the aforementioned location. Copy the data path such as C:\Users\Admin\Documents\Adobe\After Effects
- Open your file explorer utility and paste the location.
- Double-click one of the .aep or .aepx files there in After Effects. Alternatively, drag it to a launched AE software window.
- Once the project loads, go to File → Save as again.
4. Recover Adobe After Effects files using Windows File History
Windows File History is a built-in utility that will preserve previous versions of frequently used files and folder contents, including AE projects. Unsurprisingly, File History had to be enabled before data loss and configured for the drive AE stores projects in. You can follow these steps to utilize Windows File History to restore AEP files:
- Open Start or use the Search bar and type “file history”.
- Select File History in the search results.
- Enable File History if it isn’t. This, again, only safeguards you from future data loss.
- However, if it’s already on, you can open it and start browsing through files. Use the search bar in the upper right corner to search for “.aep” or look for the Adobe Effects icons.
- After selecting one or more AEP files, click the green Recover button.
- Files will be sent to the original location, in our case, C:\Users\Admin\Documents\Adobe\After Effects
- Use methods 1 or 3 to restore the project.
5. Restore deleted AEP files via data recovery software
If you accidentally delete After Effects files or suffer data loss due to file corruption, storage formatting, or hardware failure, you can use data rescue software to search for it. Here’s how to use data recovery software to recover erased After Effects files:
- Download, install, and launch the data recovery software of your choice.
- Although we have no ties, we’ll use Disk Drill Data Recovery, a popular choice that permits up to 500 MB of restored data for free, for a demonstration.
- After opening Disk Drill, choose the partition where After Effects stored projects.
- Pick a suitable method based on the time you have: All recovery methods (Both quick and deep scan), Quick scan, or Deep scan.
- Select Search for lost data and wait for the scan to end.
- Pick the Review found items option.
- Browse the list for the After Effects icon or search for “.aep”.
- After selecting the desired files with a checkmark click the Recover button.
- Decide on a location for recovery and click the OK button.
- Use method 3 to import the restored project into After Effects.
What to do after recovering Adobe After Effects files?
After recovering Adobe Effects files, you should enable Auto-Save in the software to prevent future disasters. Also, make a regular backup of the partition or the drive the software stores them in. Additionally, store more than 5 project versions and save projects more often than 20 minutes.