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Recovering unsaved and corrupted Word office documents


You have written the text in the "Office" and didn't save the document? Let's try to recover a Word file in doc/docx format.

It's not a difficult task to recover lost Word document created in the recent versions of MS Office. The reason is that there are Word files autosave and autorecovery options. With the help of it text documents, spreadsheets and other important documents can be recovered.

Not all users are aware of their existence or don't know how to use them. We will describe some (non-)standard ways on how to find unsaved Word document below.

Table of Contents

1. How to recover Microsoft Word document in a standard way

Even if the restore feature haven't been enabled, you can recover unsaved or corrupted data from the temporary files created in the Office. But only if at the moment you are working on only one document.

Searching for the Microsoft Word temporary files

When you create a new Word / Excel document information is duplicated to a temporary file. It is stored in the Temp folder which you can find in the folder:


(Word temp file location by default)

This temporary file contains a few letters after the tilde (~). It is a good mark to look for when you need to find recovered word documents.

Office reserves information and other doc/docx/xls/xlsx documents; files with a tilde contain data needed for a recovery.

Using autosaved Office temp files

If you created a document, and the file was opened at the time of a failure (sudden power off or Windows OS system error), you must re-open the word processor Word. MS Office will try to recover the lost document automatically.

The default interval for Word documents autosave is 10 minutes. You can change the time limit via the options in the "Saving" tab.

Autosaved files are located in one of the two folders:

*   C:\\Documents and Settings\\<user name>\\Application Data\\MicrosoftWord
*   C:\\Documents and Settings\\<user name>\\Local Settings\\Temp

In Windows 7 and Vista, the backup files are located in the system folders:

*   C:\\Users\\<user name>\\AppData\\Local\\MicrosoftWord
*   C:Users\\<user name>\\AppData\\Local\\Temp

The following table lists the file types and extensions which can be found in the folder with temporary files ("XXXX" is the document number):

  • A Word document doc / docx wrdxxxx.tmp
  • A temporary Word document – wrfxxxx.tmp
  • A file for autorecovery – wraxxxx.tmp
  • A full Word document for autorecovering has the extension .wbk.

Once you have found a lost (or corrupted) file, you can view its content directly through the Word.

Another way  is to open Notepad or a text editor Sublime Text, for example, as it's shown in the screenshot.

Advice Manually change the Word file extension

If you have opened the file in Word, but the information in the document was corrupted / erased / overwritten,  save it in another format. After changing the extension to .rtf or .txt the content of the document sometimes can be returned.

How to recover deleted Word files in Microsoft Office 2010 >

In Office 2010 and later versions, you can find an additional option of restoring unsaved Word file or/and corrupted documents.

  1. Open the "File" tab in the upper left corner of MS Office.
  2. Select the menu item "Last"
  3. In the lower left corner of MS Office Word, select the option "Recover unsaved documents"
  4. A folder with the drafts (SavedDrafts or UnsavedFiles, depending on the version of Microsoft Office) will appear
  5. Find the desired file and double-click to open it
  6. Save the file.

Note. Doc/docx files can also be found in the following folders (Windows 7/8/Windows 10):

C:\\Users\\<user name>\\AppData\\Local\\Microsoft Office\\UnsavedFiles
how to find lost Word document [pic]

2. Microsoft Word file recovery with the help of the Windows OS

If you need to recover previous version of word document  (or Excel / text), but you have already overwritten it, try to restore the file using Windows.

In Windows Vista, 7 or later versions a "rollback" to a previous version mechanism is built-in. The recovery also works for the Word, Notepad, WordPad documents and other types of data.

It's very easy to recover documents:

  1. Open the context menu (click the right mouse button on the file name)
  2. Select "Restore previous versions" option in the context menu.
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3. Recovering corrupted Word documents using the program Recuva

It is possible that during the time when the document was deleted, some applications, such as MS Word, could have rewritten the document part. The structure of the Word file, except the text parts contains the information on the formatting. Any damage of the data structure in the doc or docx makes the document unreadable.

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It's very likely to recover lost word documents using Recuva. You can download this program here.

4. Using the text converter in the Word document

You can restore Word document (doc, docx), Excel (xls, xlsx), or at least part of it with the help of the MS Office text converter. In this case you can only restore documents in ASCII with the loss of formatting and images. This is very similar to the extraction of plain text from the document which was mentioned above.

  1. File > Open.
  2. In the appeared dialog select the troublesome word document.
  3. Then click "Recover Text From Any File" from the list.
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Answers to the readers ' questions

I was working on the document. When I left, I just closed the computer. When I came back to the document there were two copies of the document: the original one and the autosaved copy. I opened the autosaved one, but I didn't save it manually and just closed it. Now I only have the original one. But I need the autosaved copy because it contains all the information. How do i recover a Word document?

If you are using the Word 2007 version, select all the files types for opening (.), find the saved document and open it.

In the case with a text processor Word 2003 version:

  1. File - Open - All files (.)
  2. Specify the type of ASD for the search.

I have recently formatted my HDD on the computer. Is it to recover word document not saved after it has been formatted?

The probability of recovering a Word document depends on the degree of formatting. There are Quick and Full types of the HDD formatting. In the first case, the chances are higher because the files table is not disturbed as during Full formatting.

It's probably likely to recover an unsaved document. If you closed the file without saving it and have also formatted the disk there are obviously no chances. You can recover the Word file only if you have saved the document, formatted the disk and didn't overwrite the existing information after it.

I wrote a poem, sent it and then it disappeared. The receiver has never got it and I don't have the document. How come? Can I recover the text?

Check one more time whether you've saved a document on your computer. In this case use a Windows search bar (click the right mouse button "Start - Find") or Windows Explorer. Enter the date of changing the document (Today, Yesterday etc.), then check for the found files content.

Vlad Brown, USA, Buffalo, WY

Vlad is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in data recovery with 15 years of experience. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions and answer them. 

His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions and provide answers to them, write proven manuals, be the website technical support and also run a Youtube channel.

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