Excel AutoRecover not Working, What is Next?

Updated on August 1, 2019

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.)

From this scenario, the probable causes for such loss of data in excel file can be due to:

  1. 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.
  2. Corruption in the Excel XLSX file – If ‘AutoRecover’ is enabled, most probably the cause is ‘damaged Excel XLSX file.’

Well, before delving into the solutions for ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’ issue for this particular scenario wherein the user lost hours of work that he had done on an Excel workbook, know about AutoRecover and AutoSave feature. These features have been described in the section below.

A brief into Excel AutoRecover and AutoSave feature

AutoRecover is an inbuilt feature in MS Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2003 and 2007 that allows saving of all ‘open Excel files’ at a user-definable fixed interval/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. There is a default location where the auto-recovered Excel files are saved. Besides, there is a provision to disable these features.

Now, the solutions for ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’

I. When the cause of ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’ is corruption in Excel XLSX file, proceed with different solutions that aim to repair Excel file and recovering the maximum data possible. The solutions are:

Solution 1: Manual Method

Use ‘Open and Repair’ inbuilt utility to fix and repair damaged Excel file. To use the inbuilt utility, execute the following steps:

  1. Go to location “C:\Users\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles” to find Excel TMP files and save it as XLSX file
  2. Note – In Windows 8, the location is same as mentioned above that is for Windows 10. In Windows 7, the location is “C:\Users\name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\”

  3. Open a blank Excel sheet; click File >> Open
  4. Go to the location and folder containing the damaged Excel file
  5. In the Open dialog box, choose the damaged Excel file and click the arrow next to Open button >> click Open and Repair
  6. Click Repair to recover as much work as possible

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

Solution 2: Automated Method

Use third-party software to repair damaged Excel XLSX file and recover as much data as possible. Various third-party tools that can repair damaged Excel file and recover all its data are flooded in the market. You can search online to look for such software. However, choose the one that performs the repair process efficiently and fixes ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’ issue in a go. One name that suffices these and on which you can rely is Stellar Repair for Excel software. It is a software that repairs any corruption in Excel file, fixes all issues in Excel, and restores table, chart, chart sheet, cell comment, formula, image, sort and filter from the damaged Excel file into a new blank Excel file. Further, it repairs more than one Excel file in a go while keeping the worksheet properties and cell formatting same as before. Compatibility with Excel 2019 and other earlier versions is an added benefit.

II. When the cause of ‘Excel AutoRecover not working’ is ‘disabled AutoRecover’, enable it. To do so, execute the following steps:

  1. Open Excel with MS Excel 2016/2019
  2. Click on File and then on Options tab
  3. In ‘Excel Options’, click on Save tab
  4. Check ‘Save AutoRecover information every * minutes’ and ‘Keep the last auto saved version if I close without saving’ box
  5. Set the time in ‘Save AutoRecover information every * minutes’
  6. 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 * minutes’.


To help resolve the problem of ‘AutoRecover not working’, three 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 after last saving of Excel file. However, to fix corruption in the excel file, use Stellar Repair for Excel software as recommended by MS Excel Experts and MVPs. The reason being, it is a software that repairs even severely damaged Excel file in one go easily and efficiently.