print friendly version

Questions and answers

How can I recover a Word document I was working on when my computer crashed?

If you are part-way through working on a document when due to circumstances outside your control (such as the computer crashing or a network problem), you are unable to continue, there is a danger that the changes you have made will have been lost. This can be very frustrating and lead to a lot of extra work.

Of course, the best way to guard against this risk is to be in the habit of regularly saving your files while you are working (every 10 minutes is recommended).

Fortunately many programs, such as Microsoft Word, have an in-built "auto-save" function that automatically backs up a copy of your work every few minutes. But AutoRecover does not replace regularly saving your files, you must still do this.

In Word 2016, you can see how this is set up in the Options.

  1. Click on the File tab
  2. Under Options, click Save.
  3. Tick the Save AutoRecover information every check box.
  4. In the minutes box, type or select a number to determine how often you want to save files eg every 10 minutes
  5. Tick 'Keep the last saved autoversion if I close without saving' check box

Shown below this is the AutoRecover file location which in this example is "N:\" - ie the individual N:drive for the user. These are the standard settings for users on IT Services computers. They mean that every 10 minutes, a copy of the work in progress will be automatically saved to the user's N:drive.

If Word is closed normally these auto recovery files are not saved.

If the computer you are using crashes while you are working on a document, you will probably have lost some information, but you should be able to recover the last saved autoversion. In this example, that means that at most you will have lost 10 minutes worth of work.

There are two ways to recover information. Firstly, if you are at the same computer you were using when the problem occurred and nobody else has used it in the meantime, then once you have been able to restart or log back on to the computer, open Word again. When you open it, Word will automatically check for any auto-saved files on the left-hand side of the screen. You can then click through them and choose any that you want to keep, using "Save As" to save a copy of the file.

If you are not using the same computer, then you have to go to the file location where Word auto-saved the file. So in the example above, this would mean going to the "N:" drive.

  1. Click on Windows Explorer icon on the task bar
  2. Locate the"N:" drive
  3. Any automatically saved files will then be listed as .asd files

Automatic versions of files do not end with ".docx" or ".doc" like normal Word documents - they end with ".asd" which stands for "auto-saved document". The file name will be the same as the name of the file you were working on but with "AutoRecovery save of" at the start. So if the file you were working on was called "My New Word File.docx", then the last auto-saved version would be called "AutoRecovery of My New Word File.asd". You can open it simply by double-clicking on it - the file will open in Word as usual and you can then use "Save As" to save it to the right location.

If no file is found you need to find the Autosave file and copy it to the location shown when Recover is used.

These can be found via File, Open and clicking the Recover Unsaved Documents button found at the very bottom of the Recent File List. 


  1. Open Word and select File, Options.
  2. In the Options dialog box select Save from the left hand menu.
  3. Note the AutoRecover files location.
  4. Open Windows Explorer/My Computer
  5. Click on the Organise dropdown.
  6. Select Folder and Search Options.
  7. Select the View tab.
  8. Remove the tick next to Hide Extensions for known file types.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Select the Show hidden files, folders and drives radio button.
  11. Move to the location found in step 3 above.
  12. Open the folder which has your document name (with %20 representing spaces).
  13. Copy the .asd file.
  14. Return to Word and click on File, Open
  15. Scroll down until you can see the Recover Unsaved Documents button and click it.
  16. Paste the copied file into the folder
  17. Open the file

Microsoft have a useful article How to Recover a lost document

See aslo our FAQ 1648 I emailed my work to myself, opened it from the email, made some changes and then saved it but can now no longer find the updated copy - what has happened to it?

Help us to improve this answer

Please suggest an improvement
(login needed, link opens in new window)

Your views are welcome and will help other readers of this page.


This is question number 1643, which appears in the following categories:

Created by David Guest on 17 February 2010 and last updated by Adrian Chorlton on 1 August 2016