Educated Attorney TechTip: Recover Lost Word Documents

by | Feb 26, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

A question we get often is how to recover lost or unsaved Word documents when Word crashes. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, either Word freezes or your PC crashes or shuts down unexpectedly while your typing, and you lose your Word document. Technically there are things you can do to recover your partially saved or unsaved document. We’ve already explained how to increase the auto save time within Word in our post, Word Just Froze, What Do I Do!? Increasing the auto save time within Word decreases any chances that any loss of data will occur, but if you use a document management system, this auto save feature will not help you, especially if your document management system disables the ability to save locally.

When Word crashes, don’t freak out, there are a few things you can try in order to recover your document. Keep in mind that these instructions also work for most applications within the Microsoft Office Suite. The first thing you can do is open Word and see if it asks you to perform a document recovery. Usually these documents are on the left side of the page in a Document Recovery windows. If you see your document in the list, simply double-click the document  to open it. Keep in mind that the default auto-recovery save time is every 10 minutes. If you did not take our advice in our previous post and lowered that time, you will see your document but you may not see all your changes or edits. If you lower the save time, it saves more often and int he case of a document recovery, more of your document is recoverable.

The second way to recover a document is a bit more tricky, and may work for those of you with document management systems. It involves you going into your recovered items directory and searching for a temp file that was created while you originally typed your document. The path differs depending on the operating system your working with Windows XP or Windows 7. To get started on your manual document recovery, open Computer or My Computer and navigate to the following directory…


Windows XP

C:\Documents and Settings\*Your Profile Name*\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\


Windows 7

C:\Users\*Your Profile Name*\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\

In this folder you’ll see Word temp files that you can try and open. Check each file and see if it is your lost document. If this folder is empty, then there can be no recovery. This folder is often purged so work quick. If you lose a document, try both these methods of recovery and increase the auto save time. This info should give you a fighting chance against lost documents.


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