Excel AutoRecover not Working, What is Next?

Consider a Scenario:

A professional with Windows 10 computer had MS Office 2016 installed on it. For an official purpose, he worked on an Excel workbook and saved it as an XLSX file. After working for hours on it, which was saved with a file name, a power outage occurred in his building for quite some time. After the power was back, he reopened Excel to find a list of recovered files in ‘Document Recovery’ section on the screen’s left side. However, the file that he had worked on recently was the ‘Original version,’ i.e. the last version saved by him and not the auto-saved Excel file. This meant the Excel document did not have any new data that was entered since the last time he saved it. Consequently, he lost hours of work. According to him, this happened despite the fact that the ‘AutoRecover’ feature was enabled. (Still, this needs to be checked and ensured.)

The 'AutoRecover' feature might not work in any of these cases: 

  • AutoRecover Feature is disabled - With this feature disabled, the Excel files are not auto-saved if the document is closed without saving, or the document closes unexpectedly due to an untoward incidence. To check, see if ‘Save AutoRecover information every * minutes’ and ‘Keep the last auto-saved version if I close without saving’ checkboxes are checked or unchecked. If either one is unchecked or both are unchecked, it signifies that the AutoRecover feature is disabled. Else, the AutoRecover is enabled.
  • Corruption in the Excel XLSX file – If ‘AutoRecover’ is enabled, most probably the cause is ‘damaged Excel XLSX file.’

Before discussing solutions to resolve the ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’ issue, let's have an overview of the 'AutoRecover' and 'AutoSave' features. 

A Brief Overview of Excel AutoRecover and AutoSave Feature

AutoRecover is an inbuilt feature in MS Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2003, and 2007 that allows saving all of the ‘open Excel files’ at a fixed-interval in a user-specified location or AutoRecover file location. Besides, AutoSave is an add-in that exists in Excel 2002 and earlier versions to save all open Excel files in case of a crash, power outage, or accidental closure of Excel files without saving. Users can recover these files if Excel closes suddenly, for instance, at the time of power outage or failure. The auto-recovered Excel files are saved at a default location. 

Methods to Fix ‘Excel AutoRecover Not Working’ Issue

Manual Methods

Method 1 - Enable the 'AutoRecover' Feature if Disabled

Make sure that you have the ‘AutoRecover' feature enabled in your Excel application. If not, follow these steps to enable it: 

  • Open Excel with MS Excel 2016/2019 
  • Click on File and then on Options tab
  • In ‘Excel Options’, click on Save tab
  • Check ‘Save AutoRecover information every * minutes’ and ‘Keep the last auto saved version if I close without saving’ box
  • Set the time in ‘Save AutoRecover information every * minutes’
  • Click on the OK button
Note: With this method, it is not possible to recover data from the current Excel file. From next time onwards, the AutoRecover feature starts working following which Excel shall start auto-saving Excel files as per the time set in ‘Save AutoRecover information every * minute’.

Method 2 - Repair Corrupt Excel File

If corruption in Excel XLSX file has resulted in ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’ issue, you will need to repair Excel file. Use ‘Open and Repair’ inbuilt utility to fix and repair the damaged (corrupt) Excel file and extract its data. To use the inbuilt utility, execute the following steps:

  • Go to location “C:\Users\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles” to find Excel TMP files and save it as XLSX file
Note: In Windows 8, the location is the same as mentioned above that is for Windows 10. In Windows 7, the location is “C:\Users\name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\”
  • Open a blank Excel sheet; click File >> Open
  • Go to the location and folder containing the damaged Excel file
  • In the Open dialog box, choose the damaged Excel file and click the arrow next to the Open button, and then click Open and Repair
  • In the window that appears, click Repair to recover as much data as possible

Now, open the Excel (XLSX) file to check if the Excel file is repaired and its data is recovered.

Use a Professional Excel File Repair Tool 

Using a third-party Excel file repair tool can help you repair damaged Excel XLSX file and recover all the data. Stellar Repair for Excel is one tool you can rely on to repair severely corrupt Excel files (XLSX or XLS). 

Here are a few other reasons why you should choose Stellar Repair for Excel software:

  • Repairs Excel file while keeping the worksheet properties and cell formatting same as before.
  • Recovers all of the Excel file components like tables, forms, reports, charts, chart sheets, cell comments, formulas, images, etc.
  • Can batch repair multiple Excel files simultaneously
  • Supports Excel 2019 and earlier versions

Free download Stellar Repair for Excel


To help resolve the problem of ‘AutoRecover not working’, different methods have been discussed, depending on the cause of the problem. These solutions can be implemented to check the possibility of getting back maximum data added in last saved version of the Excel file. However, to fix corruption in the excel file, using a specialized tool such as Stellar Repair for Excel software recommended by MS Excel Experts and MVPs can help. The software can repair severely damaged Excel file easily and efficiently.

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Charanjeet Kaur linkdin Icon

Technical writer with over 7 years of experience

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