Word document / Word file restore: Instructions

Depending on the scenario, different methods are suitable for successfully recovering a Word file – regardless of whether you are dealing with a lost, damaged or deleted document. However, it is generally advisable to leave AutoRecover and Backup activated. This way you are always on the safe side and save yourself a lot of trouble and unnecessary extra work.

Use AutoRecover

Unintentional modification and subsequent saving of a file

Create automatic backup copies

Damaged file/file corruption

If the file can be opened: Perform Word repair, copy text to another document

If the file cannot be opened: “Recover text from any file”, use repair tool

Deleted file

“Restore previous version” or use recovery tool

AutoRecover Word file


If your computer or Word crashes in the middle of your work and you haven’t saved the last changes to your document yet, the first thing you should do is stay calm. In most cases, there is no reason to worry: the Word program, in fact, has a built-in lifesaver that allows you to undo the loss in most cases:

“AutoRecover” (spelling in the Word menu) is a function that is activated by default in newer Word versions (from 2010). And when it is enabled, every 10 minutes the program automatically saves all the current data of a Word document as a backup in an ASD (Advanced Streaming Format Description) file, usually called “AutoRecover-Save from [original filename].asd”. You can find this function in the “Word Options” under the menu item “Save”.

Tip
Depending on the Word version, you can find the “Word Options” under “File”, via the Microsoft Word button or in the “Tools” menu.

Microsoft Office menu with menu item “Options” in the lower left corner
Via “File” –> “Options” you can access the Word options
AutoRestore function under “Save” in the Word options
The time interval and the destination folder for the AutoRecover function can be freely selected
In the checkboxes “Save AutoRecover information every [xx] minutes” as well as “Keep last automatically saved version when closing without saving” you have to put checkmarks to activate both functions. At this point you can also adjust the time interval of backup saving as well as select the destination folder for the created ASD files.

Save your current Word document and exit Word properly, then the ASD file will be deleted automatically. “AutoRestore” thus only comes into play when a file is lost or damaged due to a serious error such as a system crash. How you then proceed in such a case depends entirely on whether you still have the respective file saved in another version or whether you have saved it at all.

Restore an already saved Word file


At every (new) start Word automatically searches for possibly existing AutoRecover files and shows them to the user in the task area “Document Recovery” without being asked. If this is exceptionally not the case, you have to search for the corresponding document manually:

Under “File” or the Microsoft Office button (depending on the Word version), click the “Information” menu item.
Under “Versions”, select the document labeled “[Creation date] (when closing without saving)”.
Now click on “Restore” in the yellow bar at the top of the Word workspace.

Restore an unsaved Word file


The procedure is quite similar for files that you have not saved at all since you started editing them:

Under “Information” (see previous instructions), click the “Manage Versions” button and then “Restore Unsaved Documents”.
The destination folder of AutoRecover will open. Using the date and time information, check which of the listed ASD files is the lost Word document in its latest version and open it.
Then save the file in Word in the regular way.
Manage Versions” option under “Information” in the Microsoft Office menu.
Under “Versions” you can directly select already saved documents or “Restore unsaved documents”.
ASD file in the “Restore unsaved documents” dialog box
You can easily recognize the correct ASD file by the modification date and time
Restore Word documents manually
If the procedures described above do not work or if you are working with an older program version than Office 2010, you can alternatively locate the respective ASD file manually. To do this, open Windows Explorer (for example, with the key combination [Windows] + [E]). Depending on the Office version, you will find the AutoRecover files under one of the following paths:

C:\User\YourUserName\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles.
C:\User\YourUserName\AppData\Local\Temp
C:\Windows\Temp
If your drive name matches the above, you can also conveniently copy the destination paths into the Windows Explorer address bar. If in doubt, check the destination folder of AutoRecover in the Word options. You can also use the search function of your computer by entering “*.asd” in the search bar and sorting the result list by date. Once you have found the ASD file of your Word document, simply open it in Word afterwards and save it as a DOC or DOCX file in the regular way.

Automatically create backup copies


In addition to AutoRecover, Word can also automatically create backup copies of your documents if you wish. However, you have to activate this function first:

To do so, go back to the “Word Options” and click on the “Advanced” menu item.
Scroll down to the “Save” section. There, place a check mark next to the “Always create backup copy” item.
Always create backup copy” option under “Advanced” in the Word options.
The function for the creation of automatic backup copies must be activated manually in Word.
Word will from now on create a backup copy every time you save a document with “Save as”. These copies are stored as so-called WBK files in the same folder as the original document and have the standardized name “Backup copy of [original file name].wbk”. With each saving process, an update takes place. But remember: the backup copy is an image of the penultimate saved version of your Word document. So the last changes are not yet included in it. This has a purpose: If you accidentally delete or replace an important paragraph and then carelessly click Save, you still have the possibility to restore the paragraph in question.

Recovering damaged Word documents


Even if the file is corrupted, there are enough methods to recover it successfully. However, you should first diagnose whether the problem is really with the document itself or perhaps with Word or even your PC.

While working on your document, look for any abnormalities: An incorrect layout, faulty formatting, or running the same command multiple times for no reason (for example, reassigning page numbers repeatedly) are all possible trouble spots. In such cases, try opening the file on a different PC or in a different version of Word to rule out further sources of error. If the document cannot be opened at all and Word issues an error message such as “When opening [filename], Word detected file corruption”, on the other hand, the case is crystal clear.

Fact


“File corruption” means that, for some reason, a Word document no longer conforms to Microsoft Office conventions and is therefore no longer recognized as a valid Word format. Most often, file corruption occurs when Word crashes in the middle of a save operation.