By Ivy / Last update December 22, 2020

The need of recovering unsaved Excel files

Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program included in the Microsoft Office suite, has become one of the essential tools in our office. General use of Excel include calculations, graphs and statistical analysis. However, the annoying thing is that there may be some accidents when using Excel.

Most commonly, users may accidentally close and delete an Excel file without saving. Besides, an unexpected event, like system crashes, power failure or Microsoft Office internal error shuts down Excel so quickly that you have no time to save your Excel files.

If you have backed up Excel file in different location, you can restore the file in time. But in truth you might not have made a backup in advance. Even if so, don't get discouraged, you still can recover unsaved Excel files.

How to recover unsaved Excel document?

When Excel files are lost, you’d better stop using Excel and Office related tools right away, as this may greatly incrrease your chances to recover lost files. 

Microsoft Excel provides users with two practical features to recover unsaved Excel files - AutoSave and AutoRecover, and has turned them on defaultly. AutoSave makes a copy of the modified Excel file every 10 minutes while AutoRecover allows you to return to the last saved version using Document Recovery pane when you open Excel at the next time. In addition, you can use data recovery software - Recoverit Pro.

Solution 1. Retrieve unsaved Excel files with AutoRecover

In the first place, go to File > Options > Save and ensure both Save AutoRecover information every 10 minutes and Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving checked. Then, follow these steps below to find unsaved Excel files.

Step 1. Start Excel again. The Recovered heading will appear. Then choose Show Recovered Files.

Show Recovered Files

Step 2. Excel will open a new spreadsheet with a Document Recovery panel. Choose the unsaved file from the list and then recover it.

Document Recovery

Solution 2. Restore unsaved Excel files from temporary files

Microsoft Office occasionally saves temporary files as backups. Sometimes you can use these files to recover unsaved Excel files.

Step 1. Click File and Open subsequently. Then choose Recent Workbooks.

Recent Workbooks

Step 2. Scroll down to bottom and click Recover Unsaved Workbooks. Then, you will see the Document Recovery panel with several unsaved files, double-click the necessary files to open it.

Recover Unsaved Workbooks

Step 3. Click Save As to save the file to the desired location. 


◓ Except for using temperary files, you can also go to File >info >Manage Workbooks>Recovery unsaved Workbooks, then open the lost files and save it to a safe place. If you have saved files multiple files, you will see several auto saved copies with date under the Manage Workbooks. Click on one of them and compare the changes.
◓ Microsoft Excel offers users an auto-backup option when you save a file. To make it, click File > Save as > Browse >Tools >General Options, tick Always create backup and OK, then save your files to the desired location. By default, it will be saved as .xlk file extension.

Solution 3. Recover unsaved Excel files via Recoverit Pro

If the previous methods don’t work, then you can try Recoverit Pro. This is a professional data recovery tool that enables you to recover Excel files from all data loss scenarios in Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP. This program has an intuitive interface, which makes it very easy to operate. Now, let’s see how it works.

Step 1. Install and open Recoverit Pro. Choose Deleted Files Recovery from the list.

Deleted Files Recovery

Step 2. Select the location where your Excel files were stored for scanning and then click Start.

Select Location

Step 3. The results from quick scan will be shown quickly. If you can't find your unsaved Excel files, please use All-Around Recovery to get a deep scan.


Step 4. After the deep scan, you can find and select the Excel file you want to restore and then click Recover.


◓ You can filter files by using File modified date.
◓ This method works well when you need to recover unsaved Excel file 2007/2010/2013/2016/2019.

Regular backup keep you away from data loss

Recovering unsaved Excel files is time-consuming, and there is no guarantee. At the same time, the auto-backup option of Microsoft Excel only supports backing up single file. Therefore, you'd better turn to a free yet professional backup software to perform file backups regularly. I strongly recommend you AOMEI Backupper Standard because of the following advantages:

  • Compatible with all Windows-based operating system, including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows XP, Windows Vista.

  • Supports backing up all kinds of files, such as, Word documents, Excel files, music files, pictures, audios and so on. 

  • Work well with various backup storage, such as, external/internal hard drives, cloud drives, NAS devices, and network, etc. 

  • Supports three backup types, including full backup, incremental backup, and single differential backup. 

  • Execute auto backup at a fixed interval, including daily, weekly or monthly.

The user-friendly interface and simple operation steps are also praised by many users. Above all, it’s free! Download this freeware and start your first backup. 

Download Freeware

Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP

Secure Download

Click Backup and File Backup in order, select files or folders you want to backup and the destination path, then click Start Backup. To backup files automaticlly, please click Schedule and OK to enable daily incremental backup, the default option. 

File Backup

◓ If you think daily backup is too short, you can change it to weekly or monthly.
◓ The incremental backup requires all backup to be intact, otherwise your backup will not work. To ensure your backups are always valid, you should create a single differential backup. First, create a file backup without any schedule setting, then set differential backup at the Home pafe. 


That's all for how to recover unsaved excel files, 100% working but time-consuming. Therefore, it's essential to backup excel files in advance, not limited to this. You need to backup any files that is important to you, including pictures, music files, videos, and so on. And free backup software AOMEI Backupper can assist you in backing up all kinds of files. Why not give it a try right now?

In addition, it can do more than file backup, including system backup, disk backup, partition backup, differential backup with scheduled tasks, create bootable media, PXE boot tool, encryption, event triggers, USB plug in etc. However, some of these features are only availble on the paid version, so please upgrade to AOMEI Backupper Professional to unlock all features.