How to Recover Deleted Word Documents for Free?

Summary: Have you deleted your Word documents permanently & now want them back? You could face this situation commonly on Windows PCs because they are majorly used for running Office applications, including Microsoft Word. You may lose a deleted Word file forever if you don’t have a backup. This Guide shares methods for how to recover deleted Word documents for free, using which you will be able to regain deleted word files.

Before you read further, download the Free Word file recovery software - Stellar Data Recovery – from the link below. We use the software in one of the methods in this Guide.

How to Recover Deleted Word Documents for Free?

You could lose a Microsoft Word document or any other file from your Windows system due to reasons like deletion. Using the below methods, you will be able to recover deleted Word files as well as those you lost due to reasons such as-

  • Emptied Recycle Bin: You emptied the Recycle Bin, so the Word file is deleted permanently
  • No backup copy: You do not have an offline or cloud backup of the data to allow restoration
  • Unsaved Word file: The Word file crashed or closed abruptly without saving the data in it.
  • Word file corruption: The file is corrupted due to a system crash, malware, etc.
  • Accidental drive or partition formatting: You formatted the partition without copying the file to a safe location.

Methods to Recover Deleted Word Documents

Method 1: Restore from Recycle Bin

Method 2: Use “Recover Unsaved Document” Feature of Word

Method 3: Use Word AutoRecover Feature

Method 4: Restore from Backup (OneDrive & Windows)

Method 5: Use Free Word File Recovery Software

Method 1: Restore from Recycle Bin

Applicability: RecoversWord files and other documents deleted using the Del key in Windows 10, Windows 8, and older systems

If you have deleted a Word Document by pressing the delete key, you can restore it from the Recycle Bin. Generally, any deleted file goes straight to the Recycle Bin if it is within the preset size limit for trashed items or hasn’t been configured for automatically skipping past the Recycle Bin.

In Windows systems, such normally deleted files stay in the Recycle Bin for 30 days. After that, the files are permanently deleted (removed from the Recycle Bin). To recover such permanently deleted Word files, you would need a backup or data recovery software.

Follow these steps to recover deleted Word document from Recycle Bin:

  • Double-click the Recycle Bin icon on the Desktop
  • Locate the deleted Word files in the Recycle Bin
  • Select the files, right-click on them, and click Restore.

The method will restore the Word files from Recycle Bin to their original location on the system.

Restore Word File from Recycle Bin on Windows

Note: You cannot restore documents or files deleted using the Shift + Del key from the Recycle Bin because they are permanently deleted. For recovering such files, you need backup or data recovery software.

Method 2: Use “Recover Unsaved Document” Feature of Word

Applicability: Restores unsaved Word documents

Sometimes, an open Word document may suddenly close due to an application or system crash, or the file may require a forced closure if it freezes. Such unsaved Word documents might lose valuable information or you might not find them later on.

Usually, MS Word searches for AutoRecover files every time it starts and shows results in the ‘Document Recovery’ pane. If the ‘Document Recovery’ pane doesn’t open, you may search for it using the ‘Recover Unsaved Document’ feature. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Open a new Word Document and go to File > Info.
  • Navigate to Manage Document > Recover Unsaved Documents.
Recover Unsaved Documents Word
  • Click Recover Unsaved Documents toview all the unsaved Word files on your system
  • Select the files you want to restore from the list of Unsaved Documents and click Open.
Saved Unsaved documents word

The temporary Word file will open with a warning message— RECOVERED UNSAVED FILE “This is a recovered file that is temporarily stored on your computer.”

Saved Recovered File Word
  • Click ‘Save As’ and save the word document on the system.

Method 3:  Use the AutoRecover Feature

Applicability: Recovers unsaved Word documents after a system or application crash.

Microsoft Word has a fantastic feature called “AutoRecover” that creates an automatic backup of a live Word document in set intervals while you are working on the file. AutoRecover works in the background and saves a temporary copy (.asd file) of the latest document without you explicitly saving the Word file.

Using AutoRecover, you can recover a crashed or unsaved Word file, but be aware that it is NOT a replacement for normal saving of the files. You must keep saving the document to preempt this situation.

Typically, after you open a crashed Word document, the application automatically prompts you with an option to recover the auto-saved file (.asd file) and save it on the system. If you don’t get a system prompt, follow these steps to search for the AutoRecovery file (.asd) and save the unsaved Word document:

  • Open a new Word Document and navigate to File > Options.
File Option word
  • Click Options > Save
  • Under Save documents, navigate to the AutoRecover file location
  • Select and copy the file location path mentioned in the AutoRecover file location
Auto Recover File Location
  • Open File Explorer by pressing Win + E keys
  • Paste the AutoRecover file location path in the Menu Bar. Hit Enter.
Auto verification recover file location

The unsaved Word file will show up with .asd extension.

  • Select and copy the path of the required .asd file you want to recover.
Copy asd file word
  • Now, open a Word document and navigate to File > Open > Recover Unsaved Document.
recover unsaved asd file word
  • Paste the ‘.asd file location path’ in the File name box and click Open.
Open asd file word

The temporary Word file will open with a warning message— RECOVERED UNSAVED FILE “This is a recovered .asd file temporarily stored on your computer.”

recover asd file
  • Click ‘Save As’ and save the word file on the system.

Method 4: Restore from Backup (OneDrive & Windows)

Applicability: Using this method, you can recover deleted, corrupted, and formatted MS Word documents on Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7 systems using the backup. The method is beneficial if you deleted the files using the shift + delete command or emptied the Recycle Bin.

Several backup utilities help restore the data and system to a previous state. You can use these utilities to create a daily, weekly, or monthly backup.

This method describes the steps to restore Word files using the Backup & Restore and File History features in Windows. We also share the steps to restore OneDrive backup.

a. Use Windows Backup and Restore

If you are using Windows backup, follow these steps to restore the deleted or lost Word files:

  1. Connect the backup storage media to the Windows PC
  2. Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows logo key
  3. Type Control Panel and press Enter.
  4. Go to Update and Security > Backup and Restore (Windows 7)
  5. Click ‘Restore my files’ and follow the wizard to restore lost files.
  6. If ‘Restore my files’ isn’t visible, click ‘Select another backup to restore files from’ and follow the restore wizard.

b. Use Windows File History feature

If you had enabled File History on your system, you could recover the deleted, corrupted, or lost files using these steps:

  1. Right-click the folder from where the Word document is deleted.
  2. Choose ‘Restore previous versions.’
  3. From the available versions, choose the version comprising the file.
  4. Click ‘Restore’ or drag & drop the version at a location on your system.

c. Restore OneDrive

If you have Microsoft 365 or OneDrive Standalone subscription, you can turn ON the PC folder backup option to automatically sync up the Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders on your Windows system to your OneDrive cloud storage. These synced files are available and accessible via any supported device.

Now imagine you deleted a Word document or lost a file due to corruption or formatting; you can easily restore it from OneDrive, using the following options:

Option 1: Restore deleted files from OneDrive recycle bin

Note: This option is available to users who have only OneDrive subscription and do not use Microsoft 365

  • Open the OneDrive website and sign in to your account
  • Select Recycle bin in the navigation pane
  • Select the file you need to restore and click Restore to recover them
One drive Recycle bin store

Option 2: Restore an older version of the file stored on OneDrive

Note: This option applies to OneDrive users who don’t have Microsoft 365 subscription.

Follow these steps to restore a Word document to an earlier version:

  • Sign in to your OneDrive account
  • Select the file you need to restore
  • Right-click the file and select the Version history
  • Click Restore to restore the file

If you have installed the OneDrive sync app on your Windows system, you can navigate to the file using File Explorer and restore it.

Option 3: Restore the entire OneDrive

Note: This option is available to Microsoft 365 subscribers.

Using this option, you can restore the entire OneDrive to a previous version. This option helps restore a large number of deleted, corrupted, or damaged files at once, as follows:

  • Go to the OneDrive website and login to your account
  • Click the Settings icon on the top of the page
  • Navigate to Settings > Options > Restore your OneDrive {if using a personal account}
  • Alternatively, Navigate to Settings > Restore your OneDrive {if using a work account}
  • On the Restore page, select a date from the dropdown list
  • Review the activity feed and chart to determine the actions you want to undo.
  • After reviewing the details carefully, Select Restore to restore OneDrive to an older state

Method 5: Use Free Word File Recovery Software

Applicability: This method recovers the files deleted using the shift + delete command or emptied from Windows Recycle Bin, and there is no Backup available. The method also gets back the files lost due to malware infection, corruption, or drive formatting.


Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition
  • Select the location from where the Word file was deleted. Alternatively, you can select a drive if you don’t know the location.
  • Click Scan to allow the software to scan the storage for the deleted file.
Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition -Recover From
  • Preview the recoverable files and click Recover to save them.
Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition - Preview

Using the software, you can recover up to 1 GB of deleted Word files for free.


Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processing application. So, you might have faced a situation at least where you deleted a Word file and wanted to have it back later. In this blog, we shared different methods to recover deleted Word documents by restoring them from the Recycle Bin, using Word’s Recover Unsaved Document feature and AutoRecover functionality. We also described the methods to restore Windows backup and recovery of Word from OneDrive backup. If you deleted a Word document using the Shift+Del key, emptied the Recycle Bin, or lost your file due to hard drive formatting, corruption, or malware attack, use a free Word file recovery tool such as Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition.

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