The Excel 2013 Document Recovery Feature

Excel 2013 offers a document recovery feature that can help you in the event of a computer crash because of a power failure or some sort of operating system freeze or shutdown. The AutoRecover feature saves your workbooks at regular intervals. In the event of a computer crash, Excel displays a Document Recovery Task pane the next time you start Excel after rebooting the computer.

When you first start using Excel 2013, the AutoRecover feature is set to automatically save changes to your workbook (provided that the file has already been saved) every ten minutes. You can shorten or lengthen this interval as you see fit. Choose File→Options→Save or press Alt+FTS to open the Excel Options dialog box with the Save tab selected.

Use the spinner buttons or enter a new automatic save interval into the Save AutoRecover Information Every 10 Minutes text box before clicking OK.

The Document Recovery Task pane shows the available versions of the workbook files that were open at the time of the computer crash. It identifies the original version of the workbook file and when it was saved, along with the recovered version of the file and when it was saved.

To open the recovered version of a workbook (to see how much of the work it contains that was unsaved at the time of the crash), position the mouse pointer over the AutoRecover version. Then click its drop-down menu button and click Open on its pop-up menu.

After you open the recovered version, you can (if you choose) then save its changes by clicking the Save button on the Quick Access toolbar or by choosing File→Save.

You then have these choices:

  • To save the recovered version of a workbook without bothering to first open it, place your mouse over the recovered version, click its drop-down button, and choose the Save As option on the pop-up menu.

  • To permanently abandon the recovered version (leaving you with only the data in the original version), click the Close button at the bottom of the Document Recovery Task pane. When you click the Close button, an alert dialog box appears, giving you the chance to retain the recovered versions of the file for later viewing.

  • To retain the files for later viewing, select the Yes (I Want to View These Files Later) radio button before clicking OK.

  • To retain only the original versions of the files shown in the Task pane, select the No (Remove These Files. I Have Saved the Files I Need) radio button instead.

The AutoRecover feature only works on Excel workbooks that have been saved at least one time. In other words, if you build a new workbook and don’t bother to save and rename it prior to experiencing a computer crash, the AutoRecover feature will not bring back any part of it.

For this reason, it’s really important that you get into the habit of saving new workbooks with the Save button on the Quick Access toolbar very shortly after beginning to work on a worksheet. Or you can use the trusty keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S.

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