How to Recover Unsaved Excel File: A Step-by-Step Guide

Losing an unsaved Excel file can be a heart-stopping moment. But, don’t panic just yet! There’s a good chance that you can recover your data without having to start from scratch. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to recover your unsaved Excel file so you can get back to work without missing a beat.

Step by Step Tutorial to Recover Unsaved Excel File

If you’ve accidentally closed an Excel file without saving, or if your computer crashes and you lose your work, there’s no need to despair. Excel has built-in features that can help you recover your unsaved data. Let’s go through the steps to get your file back.

Step 1: Open Excel

First things first, open up Excel. This is where you’ll begin your journey to recover your lost data.

When you open Excel, you might see a list of recovered files on the left-hand side of the screen. If you see your file there, great! Just open it up and save it immediately. If not, don’t worry, let’s move on to the next step.

Step 2: Check for AutoRecover files

Next, you’ll want to check for AutoRecover files. Excel automatically saves backup copies of your work at regular intervals.

To check for AutoRecover files, go to File > Open > Recover Unsaved Workbooks. If you see your file there, open it, and don’t forget to save it!

Step 3: Search for Temporary Files

If you still haven’t found your file, it’s time to search for temporary files. Sometimes, Excel will save a temporary version of your file on your computer.

Search your computer for files ending in .tmp or .xlsb. You might just find a temporary version of your Excel file that you can recover.

Step 4: Use Data Recovery Software

As a last resort, you can try using data recovery software. There are many options available that can help you recover lost files from your computer’s hard drive.

Keep in mind that data recovery software is not a surefire way to recover your Excel file, but it’s worth a shot if all else fails.

After completing these steps, hopefully, you’ve managed to recover your unsaved Excel file. Remember to save your work frequently to avoid this issue in the future!

Tips to Recover Unsaved Excel File

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when trying to recover an unsaved Excel file:

  • Always save your work regularly to prevent data loss.
  • Enable AutoSave if you’re using Excel through a Microsoft 365 subscription.
  • Check the Recycle Bin for deleted files – sometimes files end up there by mistake.
  • Keep your computer’s software up to date to prevent crashes that could cause data loss.
  • Consider using cloud-based storage options like OneDrive or Google Drive for automatic backups.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is AutoRecover?

AutoRecover is a feature in Excel that automatically saves a backup copy of your work at regular intervals.

How often does Excel save AutoRecover files?

By default, Excel saves AutoRecover files every 10 minutes, but you can adjust the frequency in the Excel options.

Will I lose formatting or data if I recover an unsaved file?

It’s possible that not all formatting or data will be recovered, but most of your work should be intact.

Can I recover a file if I didn’t have AutoRecover enabled?

It may be more difficult, but it’s still worth trying to recover the file using the steps outlined above.

Is it possible to prevent data loss in Excel?

While you can’t prevent all data loss, saving your work frequently and enabling AutoSave can greatly reduce the risk.


  1. Open Excel.
  2. Check for AutoRecover files.
  3. Search for Temporary Files.
  4. Use Data Recovery Software.


Losing an unsaved Excel file can be a frustrating experience, but it’s not necessarily the end of the world. With the steps outlined above, you have a good chance of recovering your data and getting back on track. Whether it’s using the AutoRecover feature, searching for temporary files, or employing data recovery software, there are multiple avenues to explore before throwing in the towel.

Remember, prevention is key. Make sure to save your work regularly and take advantage of features like AutoSave if you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber. Consider backing up your files on cloud-based platforms, as they offer another layer of security for your data.

In the digital age, data loss is a common but surmountable challenge. By following the tips and steps provided in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any unsaved file mishaps. And remember, if you’re ever in doubt, there’s a community of Excel users and experts out there who are more than willing to lend a hand. So, don’t despair if you come across an unsaved Excel file – recovery is often just a few clicks away.

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