Excel Tutorial: How To Recover A Lost File In Excel


We all know the sinking feeling of realizing that an important Excel file has been accidentally deleted or lost. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if the file contains crucial data or hours of work. However, there is no need to panic. In this blog post, we will provide step-by-step instructions for recovering a lost file in Excel, helping you to retrieve your precious data and get back to work in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Check the Recycle Bin for the lost Excel file before taking further steps.
  • Utilize the AutoRecover feature in Excel to retrieve unsaved or lost files.
  • Search for temporary files that may contain a copy of the lost Excel file.
  • Look for previous versions of the file that Excel may have saved.
  • If necessary, use reliable file recovery software to recover the lost Excel file.

Check the Recycle Bin

When working with Excel, it's not uncommon to accidentally delete a file. Fortunately, Excel has a safety net in place that can help you recover those lost files. By checking the Recycle Bin, you may be able to find the file you thought was gone forever.

Explain how files deleted in Excel may be found in the Recycle Bin

When you delete a file in Excel, it doesn't immediately disappear from your computer. Instead, it is sent to the Recycle Bin, where it remains until you choose to permanently delete it or restore it to its original location. This means that you have a chance to recover the lost file before it's gone for good.

Provide step-by-step instructions for checking the Recycle Bin for the lost file

1. To begin, double-click on the Recycle Bin icon located on your desktop. This will open the Recycle Bin window, where you can see a list of all the files that have been deleted from your computer.

2. If you have a large number of files in the Recycle Bin, you can use the search bar at the top of the window to search for the specific file you're looking for. Simply type in the file name or relevant keywords, and the Recycle Bin will filter the results accordingly.

3. Once you've located the lost file, right-click on it and select "Restore" from the dropdown menu. This will move the file back to its original location on your computer, allowing you to access it once again in Excel.

By following these simple steps, you can quickly and easily recover a lost file in Excel by checking the Recycle Bin.

Utilize the AutoRecover Feature

Have you ever accidentally closed an Excel file without saving your work, or experienced a system crash that caused you to lose your progress? Fortunately, Excel comes with a built-in feature called AutoRecover that can help you retrieve lost or unsaved files.

A. Explain the purpose of the AutoRecover feature in Excel

The AutoRecover feature in Excel is designed to automatically save your work at regular intervals, reducing the risk of losing data in the event of a system crash or unexpected closure of the program. By default, Excel is set to save AutoRecover information every 10 minutes, but you can adjust this setting to better suit your needs.

B. Provide step-by-step instructions for using the AutoRecover feature to retrieve the lost file

If you find yourself in a situation where you've lost an Excel file that you were working on, follow these steps to retrieve it using the AutoRecover feature:

  • Step 1: Open Excel and click on the File tab in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Step 2: Select Open from the menu on the left-hand side.
  • Step 3: In the Open dialog box, navigate to the location where you last saved the file.
  • Step 4: At the bottom of the Open dialog box, click on the dropdown menu next to the Files of type field and select All Files.
  • Step 5: Look for files with the .xls, .xlsx, or .xlsm extension, as these are the file types that Excel works with.
  • Step 6: Once you've located the file, double-click on it to open it.
  • Step 7: If Excel detects that the file was not properly saved, it will prompt you with a message indicating that it has found a file that was not saved. Click Yes to open the recovered version of the file.


By utilizing the AutoRecover feature in Excel, you can rest assured that your work is being saved at regular intervals, and have a way to retrieve lost or unsaved files in the event of an unexpected closure or system crash. Make sure to check and adjust your AutoRecover settings to ensure that your work is being saved as frequently as you'd like.

Search for Temporary Files

When working in Excel, it's common to encounter situations where a file gets lost or accidentally deleted. However, Excel saves temporary files that may contain a copy of the lost file, providing a potential avenue for recovery.

Explain how temporary files may contain a copy of the lost Excel file

Temporary files are automatically created by Excel as backup copies of the work being done. These files can be a lifesaver when an Excel file is lost, as they may contain the most recent changes made to the document.

Provide step-by-step instructions for searching for and recovering temporary files in Excel

To search for and recover temporary files in Excel, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Open Excel and click on the "File" tab.
  • Step 2: Select "Open" from the menu on the left-hand side.
  • Step 3: At the bottom of the window, click on the drop-down menu next to "Files of type" and select "All Files."
  • Step 4: Navigate to the default location of Excel temporary files, which is typically "C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles."
  • Step 5: Look through the listed temporary files and open the ones that may contain the lost file.
  • Step 6: Once you have located the lost file in the temporary files, save it to a secure location on your computer.

By following these steps, you can search for and potentially recover a lost Excel file from the temporary files created by the program.

Look for Previous Versions

Have you ever accidentally deleted or lost a crucial Excel file and wished there was a way to recover it? Fortunately, Excel has a built-in feature that allows users to access previous versions of files, which can be a lifesaver in such situations. Here's how you can take advantage of this feature:

A. Explain how Excel saves previous versions of files

Excel automatically saves previous versions of files using the AutoRecover feature. This feature saves a version of the file at regular intervals, ensuring that you can access earlier versions of your work if needed.

B. Provide step-by-step instructions for accessing and recovering previous versions of the lost file

If you've lost an Excel file, follow these steps to look for previous versions:

  • 1. Open Excel and go to the "File" tab
  • 2. Click on "Info" and then select "Manage Workbook"
  • 3. Choose "Recover Unsaved Workbooks" from the drop-down menu
  • 4. Look for the file you want to recover in the list of unsaved workbooks
  • 5. Once you've found the file, double-click on it to open and save it in your desired location

By following these simple steps, you can easily access and recover previous versions of a lost Excel file, ensuring that all your hard work is not lost forever.

Use File Recovery Software

There are times when you may accidentally delete or lose a file in excel, and in such cases, using file recovery software can be a lifesaver. Here's when it may be necessary to use file recovery software and some recommendations for reliable software:

Explain when it may be necessary to use file recovery software

Accidental deletion: You may accidentally delete an important excel file and realize it later.

Corrupted file: Sometimes, excel files can get corrupted due to various reasons, making them inaccessible.

Lost file due to system crash: A sudden system crash or power outage can lead to the loss of unsaved excel files.

Provide recommendations for reliable file recovery software and step-by-step instructions for using it


  • Recuva: This is a popular and user-friendly file recovery software that can help you recover lost excel files.
  • Stellar Data Recovery: This software is known for its efficiency in recovering files from various storage devices.
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard: Another reliable option for file recovery, especially when dealing with lost or deleted excel files.

Step-by-step instructions:

1. Download and install the file recovery software of your choice.

2. Launch the software and select the drive or location where the excel file was stored.

3. Initiate the scanning process to search for deleted or lost files.

4. Once the scan is complete, the software will display a list of recoverable files, including excel files.

5. Select the excel file you want to recover and proceed with the recovery process.

6. Choose a new location to save the recovered file to avoid overwriting the original data.

By following these recommendations and step-by-step instructions, you can effectively use file recovery software to retrieve lost or deleted excel files.


Acting quickly to recover a lost Excel file is crucial in order to avoid losing valuable data and time. It is important to regularly back up your Excel files to prevent future loss and ensure that you always have a copy of your work. Remember the key steps for recovering a lost Excel file: checking the recycle bin, using the AutoRecover feature, and searching for temporary files. By taking these precautions and following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can minimize the impact of a lost Excel file and keep your data safe.

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