How To Recover Unsaved/Overwritten Excel Files?

Are you the one dealing with the data loss situation due to closing unsaved Excel workbooks, or because of computer or Excel file crashing/freezing, power loss, or due to other unexpected reasons?

This is the worst nightmare faced by every Excel user. After working on a workbook for several hours you accidentally close it without saving or due to other spreadsheet hazards is a common problem. But the Good news is that there are few ways that help you to recover unsaved Excel file 2010/2013/2016/2019.

Well, you might not get the latest version with most recent changes, but it is a lot better than starting from the beginning as: Something is Better than Nothing”. So, it is worth to recover what you can. So, let’s have a look at the recovery methods to restore unsaved Excel files.

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Steps to Utilize MS Excel Repair Tool:


How To Recover Unsaved/Overwritten Excel File?

In this section, we will talk about the following points one by one.

1. Utilize the Excel AutoSave and AutoRecover Feature

Excel Autosave and AutoRecover are the two best features that help the user to recover unsaved Excel file data if they are enabled.

Excel AutoSave is a tool that automatically saves a new document that was created just now but hasn’t saved yet. This helps the user to recover important data that have been lost due to power failure or crash.

Excel AutoRecover allows the user to restore the unsaved files lost after an accidental closure and other unexpected reasons. With this, you can recover the last saved version displayed in the Document Recovery Pane, when the Excel file is started next time. This feature only works on Excel workbooks that have been saved at least once, otherwise, the Document Recovery pane won’t show up in Excel.

Moreover, these two features are amazing to recover unsaved Excel workbooks or restore overwritten Excel files. And this option by default comes ON in Excel file.

Steps to Organize The AutoSave (AutoRecover) Settings In Excel:

  • First, go to FILE tab > select Options from a FILE menu
  • Then click Save on the left-hand side of the Excel Options dialog box
  • Assure both “Save AutoRecover information every X minutes and Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving” are checked.

  • Click OK.

The AutoRecover feature is by default set to automatically save changes of your workbook in every 10 minutes. You can increase or decrease the time period as per your recommendation. You can also change the Excel AutoRecover file location and specify AutoRecover exceptions.

As the Excel is configured to AutoSave and AutoRecover your document you can easily restore unsaved Excel file when something went wrong.

Furthermore, in this article find out how to recover new files created just now or already saved.

2. Recover Unsaved Excel Files

If in a case while working on a new Excel file, the program locks up unexpectedly. And after a few seconds, you recognize you haven’t saved the workbook. Then, in this case, know how to recover unsaved Excel file.

  • Go to FILE
  • Select Recent Workbooks.

  • Now scroll down > click on Recover Unsaved Workbooks button.

Please Note: You can also, go to FILE > Info > open the Manage Workbooks drop-down > select Recover Unsaved Workbooks from the menu.

And when the Open dialogue box pops up, select the necessary file > click Open. 

The document opens in Excel and will prompt you to save it. Click on the Save As button, in the yellow bar above your worksheet and save the file to the desired location.

3. Restore Overwritten Excel Files

In Excel 2010 and 2013 you are having an option to recover the previous versions of your documents. This is helpful if you have done any mistake and can’t undo, or your data gets overwritten.

Here know how to recover the overwritten Excel file:

  • Click on the FILE tab > select Info on the left-hand side.
  • Then, in the Manage Versions button, you’ll see all autosaved versions of your document.

Excel automatically saves workbook versions at specified intervals but if you have made changes to the spreadsheet between these intervals. Then the name of every version has a date and time and the “autosave” note.

And as you click on any of them, this will open with the most current version of your workbook, as you can compare them and identify the changes.

But if the program closed incorrectly, the last autosaved file is labeled with (when I closed without saving).

And as you open this Excel file, you will get the message above your worksheet. Click on the Restore button in the yellow bar to revert the latest unsaved version of the workbook.

Please Note: Excel deletes the entire earlier Autosaved versions at the time you close the document. If you want to look at the previous version, then it is better to create a backup of your data.

Note: The entire given screenshots are of Excel 2010, so if you are using any other Excel version then it might happen this not work in your case.

Bonus Tip To Avoid Excel Data Loss

#1: Save a Backup Copy of Your Workbook

The Auto Backup feature in Excel is very useful it allows the users to recover a previously saved version of the workbook. Making a backup of the important file is a very important and good habit to overcome the data loss situation.

This also protects the work if you accidental loss or in the situation you save changes that you do not want to keep or delete the original file. So, in this case, backup proved to be the best, as you have the current saved information in the original workbook and all previously saved information in the backup copy.

Well, this is a very helpful feature; but this is hard enough to find in Excel 2010 / 2013. So here follow the steps:

  • First, go to File> Save As.
  • And choose Computer> click on the Browse 

  • As the Save As dialogue window pops up > click on the small arrow next to the Tools button
  • Now choose General Options from the drop-down list.

  • And check Always create a backup box in the General Options dialog > click OK.

  • Then rename your file > select the desired location to save it. Excel creates the backup copy of the document in the same folder.

Please Note: The backed copy is saved with different .xlk file extension, as you open it, Excel pop-up a message to verify that you really want to open this workbook. Click YES and you can restore a previous version of your spreadsheet.

Well, these are methods that help you to explore your knowledge on how to recover unsaved Excel file or how to recover overwritten Excel files. But if after following the process you are unable to recover unsaved Excel file then, in this case, make use of the automatic solution to restore entire data in the Excel workbook.


I hope the given methods will help you to recover unsaved Excel file mac or the overwritten Excel files. Well, the given methods to restore deleted/overwritten Excel files are not the best.

But they are quite involved and won’t get you the spreadsheet version you are hoping for but are quite effective to recover Excel file data.

Nevertheless, the best thing you need to do is overcome the situation if the often save data (autosaving is helpful) and also create a backup of the important files.

How To Recover Unsaved/Overwritten Excel Files
Article Name
How To Recover Unsaved/Overwritten Excel Files
Check out the complete detail on how to recover unsaved Excel files. Also learn how to fix overwritten Excel files with easy manual fixes.
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Repair MS Excel Blog
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Priyanka is an entrepreneur & content marketing expert. She writes tech blogs and has expertise in MS Office, Excel, and other tech subjects. Her distinctive art of presenting tech information in the easy-to-understand language is very impressive. When not writing, she loves unplanned travels.