How to Recover Unsaved Excel File?

It’s a real pain for users to lose Excel documents that aren’t saved. When a mishap like this happens, the best bet is to employ some efficient procedures to recover the unsaved Excel workbook. In this post, you will learn how to recover unsaved Excel file. Also, you’ll know some preventive measures to avoid Excel data loss in case of any incident. 

Preventive Measures: Activate the AutoSave Option for Excel File Recovery

You get an option of AutoSave in MS Excel. This amazing feature automatically saves your files. It’s a good practice to enable this option in your Excel application. To do so, follow the below-mentioned steps:

  • Launch your MS Excel application.
  • Click File tab and go to Options.


  • This will open a new dialog box. Click Save and further make sure you have the three options selected:

  • Save files in this format: You can select the workbook format in which you’d like to save your file with unsaved work.
  • Save AutoRecover option every: This option is by default set to 10 minutes. But, you change it as per your requirement. The minimum time is 1 minute. So, if you enter this value, your file gets automatically saved every 1 minute (or whatever time you select).
  • Keep the Last AutoRecover version: This ensures that if your Excel/system crashes or you close a file without saving, a version of the file is saved and can be recovered automatically.

How to Recover Unsaved Excel File?

There are various features and options in Excel that can help recover an unsaved file. Let’s explore them one-by-one:

1. Recovering a New Unsaved File

If you are working on a new file and Excel gets crashed or you mistakenly closed the file before saving, follow the below-mentioned steps to recover the data:


Note: This solution works when AutoSave and Auto Recover options are enabled in Excel.


  • Launch your MS Excel application and go to the File tab.
  • Click Open.

  • Now, navigate to the Recent Workbooks option.

  • Further, scroll down and choose the ‘Recover Unsaved Workbooks’ option.

  • When you select this option, a list of all the unsaved workbooks appears.

You can also find the copy of unsaved Excel file at the below default location:



  • Now, select the one you wish to recover.
  • Once you click the file, it will show you a message before you save it. Click Save As in the prompted window.

Note: All the recovered unsaved files are saved in the ‘XLSB’ format by default. Make sure you save it in your desired format.

2. Recover Updated Excel Files

If you’re working on an already created file and the system unexpectedly crashes, you’ll lose all the changes. Follow the below-mentioned steps to recover the data:

  • Launch any existing Excel workbook. 
  • When it opens, you will see a document recovery pane displaying the list of all unsaved Excel files.

  • Alternatively, when you launch the Excel application, you can also go to the Show Recovered Files option. 

  • Clicking on this option will open the same document in recovery pane.
  • Click the file you want to recover.
  • When you find all your recently updated data, save the file with a different name.


3. Recover Overwritten Excel Files 

3.1 Files Saved on Local System

Sometimes, you make changes that you did not intend to and save the file, which overwrites the existing data. To get back the previous version, follow the below-mentioned steps:

  • Launch your MS Excel application and click on File > Info

  • Further, go to Manage Workbook > Recover Unsaved Workbooks. Herein, you will see the list of all previous versions of your Excel file.

  • When you select this option, a message box appears that a new version is available. You can compare the information in both versions.

Note: This method will work when the AutoSave option is enabled in MS Excel. 

  • Select the version you want to restore.

  • Give a new name and save the file.

3.2 Excel Files Present on Cloud – Dropbox/OneDrive

If you have saved your Excel data on the cloud, you can recover your overwritten Excel files by following the below-mentioned steps:

For OneDrive:

  • Launch your OneDrive application and go to the folder in which your Excel files are saved. 

  • Now, choose the file you want to recover and right-click on it. 
  • Further, select the ‘View History’ option to open your file in a new tab.

  • In the left pane, you can find all the previous versions of your Excel file.

  • Click the version you want to recover based on date/time

For Dropbox:

  • Open your Dropbox web portal. 
  • Navigate to the file you want to recover and click the three dots in front of it.
  • Select Version History option.

  • This will display all the versions of your Excel file. You can download and open the one on your system.

Note: If you have Dropbox installed on your system, go to your file and click on the Version History option. This will navigate you to the Dropbox web version. Herein, you can find and download the previous versions of your Excel file.

Repair Corrupt Excel File

In case your Excel file becomes corrupt, you can use the in-built Excel utility to repair your corrupt Excel file. Follow the steps as provided below:

  • Launch your MS Excel application.
  • Go to File > Open. Click Browse option.
  • In the new window, choose the corrupted Excel file. 
  • Click the triangle sign next to the Open option.

  • You will see different options. Herein, select Open and Repair

  • You will get a prompt on your system. Click the Repair option.

  • If the Repair option doesn’t work, you can try the Extract Data option.
  • You will get another prompt with two options, ‘Convert to Values’ or ‘Recover Formula’. Choose the one you want.

If this doesn’t work, it means your file is severely corrupted. In such a case, use a third-party Excel repair tool to repair the file.

Use Stellar Repair for Excel to Repair Corrupted Excel Files

You can use a third-party tool, such as Stellar Repair for Excel to repair severely corrupted Excel files. This powerful tool repairs Excel files (.XLS and .XLSX) and recovers all the data. You can also simultaneously choose multiple files for repairing. It is compatible with Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and older versions. The tool repairs Excel files of any size. 


In this post, we have mentioned methods to recover unsaved Excel file, based on different scenarios. You can easily recover unsaved Excel file if the AutoSave/Auto Recover option is enabled in Excel. MS Excel also provides an in-built repair option to repair corrupted file. However, it may not work in case of a severely corrupted Excel file. In such a case, you can use a third-party tool, like Stellar Repair for Excel that repairs corrupted Excel file and recovers complete data, with 100% integrity.

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