How to Use Excel’s AutoRecover and AutoBackup Features

It’s always a terrible tragedy when someone loses something important they were working on because they didn’t save their document properly. This happens more often than you think for Excel and Word users!

Fortunately, Microsoft has added a lot of features in the last few versions that reduce the risk of data loss due to crashes, power outages, mistaken deletions, etc. One feature is called AutoRecover and the second, lesser known, called AutoBackup.

In this article, I will talk about how to configure both options so that your data is as safe as possible. I would also like to mention that the latest versions of Office allow you to save documents directly to OneDrive, which is a good option to consider as you will still be able to access your work even if your hard drive is not working. you are at fault.

Excel AutoRecover

AutoRecover is enabled by default and essentially automatically saves your document to a temporary location after a set amount of time. To view AutoRecover settings, click File And after that Option.

excel file option

Click Save in the left menu and you will see an AutoRecover option under Save workbook.

autorecover excel option

By default, AutoRecover information is saved every 10 minutes. Outside of that period, Excel must wait 30 seconds before the data is saved. In addition, saved information is automatically saved in Auto-restore file location listed here. So how does it work? Basically, let’s say you have a sheet like the one below and you’ve saved it.

check excel data

Now suppose I add the following data to an Excel spreadsheet and wait about 10 minutes without saving my document. Since the AutoRecover interval is set for 10 minutes, you need to wait at least that amount of time for the data to be saved.

data added to excel

In my case I simulated the Excel crash by opening task manager and killing the Excel process. Then I reopened Excel and immediately saw an option called Show recovered files.

show recovered files

If you click that, it will display a list of Excel files that can be recovered. In my case it has the original file, only the data in A1 and A2, and it also has the AutoRecovered file, which includes data that I haven’t saved to disk.

Document recovery

Clicking on any item in the list will open another instance of Excel that displays the data in that particular file. Overall, this is a really useful feature for those times when you don’t save all your work, but Excel ends up unexpectedly.

The main downside to this feature is that AutoRecover data is stored on the same hard drive as your files, so if something happens to your hard drive, everything is gone. You can change the location in the settings above to a separate hard drive or even to a network location, which I highly recommend.

Note that AutoRecover information is also automatically deleted by Excel in the following cases:

  1. You save the file manually or by using FileSave as.
  2. You close the file or exit Excel (whether you save the file or not)
  3. Do you disable AutoRecover completely or only for workbooks

So basically, whenever you save a file, it discards the AutoRecover data. Also, if you manually exit Excel and choose not to save the data, it will delete the AutoRecover data. Just keep that in mind when using this feature. If you are a heavy Excel user, I recommend setting the AutoRecover interval to 2 or 3 minutes instead of 10.

Auto Backup

Another feature that not many people really know about is AutoBackup. To use it, you must first access and save your file to access Save dialog box. If you have already saved an Excel document, go to File And after that Save as and select a location. When you do this, it will show Save as dialog box.

save as excel

In the dialog, click Tools button to the left of Save button. You will see several options, one of which is General options. When you click that, a small window will appear with some other options.

general save options

Go ahead and check Always make a backup box. Click OK and now when you save the file, an Excel backup file will also be created with the .XLK extension. Note that the first time you do this, the files will be exactly the same. If you make edits to the original file and then save it again, the backup file will still be preserved (original data). However, on the third save, the backup file will be updated with information until the second save.

Basically, the backup file is always one version behind the current version. So, if you’ve made a bunch of changes, saved your file, and then want to roll back to a version without those changes, just open the backup file.

The file is saved in the same location as the original file, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to change that. This feature doesn’t add extra security to your documents, but it’s good in certain situations.

Enabling these backup and restore features in Excel will hopefully help you avoid losing important data. It’s always a good choice to use cloud storage (like OneDrive) as an extra safety net in case your computer goes down. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Interesting!

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