Missing file? Don’t panic, 5 recovery tips for Windows devices

Missing file? Don’t panic, 5 recovery tips for Windows devices

I know this has happened to me before, I have a new Word document I’ve created sitting open (maybe I’m actively working on it) I mean to save it somewhere and I just don’t.

Another scenario, someone requests an Excel spreadsheet I’d done some editing on and when I go to look for it, it’s nowhere to be found.

Panic ensues, but then I remember Windows 10 (and 11) devices have a number of different ways of finding and retrieving lost documents – especially those that were created in the Office suite of software. Before trying any of these steps we suggest checking your recycle bin first just in case it was accidentally deleted.

The easiest way (and possibly most obvious) is to just click the little magnifying glass on your taskbar and just search for what you can remember about the file name or the file contents. Windows search system is pretty powerful, and your search may end here. An extra tip for narrowing your options, up at the top of the search window you can narrow the options by type, such as Applications or Documents.

If you tried searching for the document and came up empty, the next place you should look is the most recent files section in the document application you’re working with. In both Excel and Word you can find this section by going to the upper left hand section of the navigation panel and hitting the “File” button. From there you go to “Open”. In this section you’ll see all your most recent files.

The recover unsaved documents button is here to save the day.

If you strike out there don’t exit out yet, this is where tip number three comes in. At the bottom of this section, you may see a “Recover Unsaved Documents” button. Clicking that will bring up any documents that were closed without being saved and hopefully your missing document is found in this section because it starts to get a little trickier by step four and requires a bit of luck.

If you have backups enabled on your computer you can follow these steps by first clicking the "Start" button followed by "Control Panel," "System Maintenance" and then "Backup and Restore." Once the backup has been restored, you can search it for your missing file.

The final place to look is your temporary files folder, usually something like C:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles but individual file paths may vary.

If you’re a Microsoft 365 OneDrive user you have a bonus recovery step available, you can try creating a file with the same name and file type as the missing document. After you’ve created the new file, select Properties, select the Previous Versions tab, and then hopefully a version appears there that you can restore.

After trying all these steps if your wayward document is still missing, it may be time to call in the experts. Data recovery is a big part of what we do at Valley Techlogic, and to make sure our clients never have to go through the headache and stress of losing their very important documents and data backups are a core feature of all of our plans.

Here’s an our backup program in a nutshell which we consider the gold standard for businesses:

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This article was powered by Valley Techlogic, an IT service provider in Atwater, CA. You can find more information at https://www.valleytechlogic.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/valleytechlogic/ . Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/valleytechlogic.