While very reliable in its function, Microsoft Office’s AutoRecover function is not perfect. MS Office recovery tools are not excuses or failsafe measures for users for not saving regularly. In fact, there are cases where AutoRecovered files are the ones that end up missing due to their file location and sometimes irretrievable nature. This is often the situation where one decides to discard an AutoRecovered version of a file by accident and leads to a struggle where in the user tries to locate these files in the Mac or Windows PC and is unable to do so, resulting in work being permanently lost and potential time wasted in redoing a document, spreadsheet or presentation.
There are also cases wherein the AutoRecover feature works, but no AutoRecovered version is opened once the program or the PC is restarted. While this may be a cause of concern, files do not disappear in its entirety. These backup files, like other system files, are kept in a folder that is secure and not readily searched.
Luckily for Microsoft Office users, the AutoRecover feature can be searched, though it can be tricky to perform. These files are not immediately lost and can be found for as long as there are no immediate changes done to the actual document, and the AutoRecover feature does not make a new backup copy, which is dictated by the AutoRecover timing set in the saving preferences the user set. It is crucial to keep the program open before doing any changes and then saving if you are certain that the program’s AutoRecover feature is functioning. Do not panic in any event, because these AutoRecover files can be overwritten the moment you start working on the original files.
So here are some tips and procedures that can be done to retrieve AutoRecovered files that do not readily open (these steps are applicable for Mac PCs):
Depending on the settings of your Mac PC, one can do a search of the most recently modified files in the file system to locate Microsoft Office’s AutoRecover folder, especially if the user is not fully aware of the file folder of the program itself or if the program was installed in a non-default location. However, Microsoft Office’s AutoRecover folder is often hidden by default in the Mac OS and that often complicates the search for the aforementioned folder. This can be circumvented by going to the finder and then pressing ALT (or Option) while selecting Go from the top of the page. This should make the Library folder visible.
It is crucial to make sure to press ALT while doing this operation; otherwise it will not work. Then, after making the Library folder visible, proceed to go to Application Support, then Microsoft, then by going to Office, then Office 20XX Recovery (in which XX is the year number or version of Microsoft Office. If using version 2011 or 2013, the folder will be specified as Office 2011 Recovery or Office 2013 Recovery respectively). Upon viewing this folder, the AutoRecover file should be present.
If the file does not open when clicked upon, transfer the file by dragging and dropping that file into the desktop. When transferred to the desktop, the file should now open. For every other file in the folder you can repeat these steps to retrieve the files similarly.
While working with the MS Office recovery methods guarantees reliable file recovery, it is always important to do prudent practices. File saving is still up to the hands of the user. It is always recommended to regularly save your work regularly alongside adjusting AutoRecover settings based on the amount of work being done.
In addition to proper file saving methods, ensuring that files are kept in well labeled filenames and folder locations is a must. Backups in other media storage devices are optimal in case hardware failure and security risks such as viruses become apparent.