Lost Your Word Document: Here’s How You Can Recover It

That sinking feeling of losing an important Word document is universally familiar to everyone – from a student to working professionals.
A feeling that has always been there when using Microsoft Word is what will happen if it crashes or you accidentally close it or something goes wrong with the software. This leaves us no choice but to keep pressing Ctrl+S or Cmd+S keys every 5 or 10 minutes while working in Word to keep the most recent version of the saved file.
Microsoft Word comes with an AutoRecover feature that protects the document if something goes wrong and with the latest version and Office 365, Microsoft also added the autosave feature which automatically saves the Word file you are working on.
That’s not it, there are several other settings and features that can also help you recover your lost Word document and in this guide, we will discuss all the possible ways to recover a lost Word document.
AutoRecover vs. AutoSave: What’s the Difference
Most people are confused between AutoRecover and Autosave feature of Word. Both are different and serve different purposes. AutoRecover is an offline feature and is designed to protect a document in process in the event of a disaster.
Autosave is an online feature that works with OneDrive to keep your autosaved file, as happens with the Google Docs.
The end goal is the same, but the latter is more reliable and currently the best way to work worry-free on a Word document.
But, if you are an offline person and keep most of your files stored locally on your computer, here are some tips that can help you protect your Word document or recover it.
Find a Word document
The first thing to do is to find a Word document. To do this, select Start and type the name of the document and press Enter.
If the search result shows the document you are looking for, click on it to open it. If not, go to the next step.
Find backup file
Microsoft Word also allows users to create a backup file for each document they work on. The backup file has the extension ‘.wbk’. So, if the “Backup Copy” option is enabled in Word, there may be a backup copy.
To enable the Backup Copy option — select File > Options > Advanced, scroll down to the Save section, then select Always create backup copy.
Backup copies are saved in these two locations in Windows, check them if you have enabled this feature in Word.
  • C:UsersAppDataRoamingMicrosoftWord
  • C:UsersAppDataLocalMicrosoftOfficeUnsavedFiles

You can also select Start and type .wbk in the search bar to search for all .wbk files stored in the system.
Find automatically retrieved documents
Just like backup files, auto-recovered files are accessible. You can either search for the documents in the Recovered section in Word.
If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, check the following folder locations for backup files:

  • C:UsersAppDataRoamingMicrosoftWord
  • C:UsersAppDataLocalMicrosoftOfficeUnsavedFiles

Or open Word > select File > Info > Manage Document > Recover Unsaved Documents.’

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