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How to Recover a Lost Word Document

Microsoft Word has proven itself as one of the most comprehensive and reliable word processing applications to date. Despite its reputation, Microsoft Word, like other computer software, is not without its flaws. Data loss is still a real possibility, even with numerous safeguards and backup procedures in place. However, just because you've lost a file does not necessarily mean that it is gone for good. In fact, there are several different methods one can use to try and recover a lost Word document.

Word Backup Files

Depending on the exact configuration of your Word software, the application may create backup copies of your work at regular intervals. If this is the case, you may be able to locate the copy and restore your file from there.

The first step is to check within the folder in which you last saved your lost document. Search for files with an extension of .WBK to locate any backup files. If a file is located, you can then proceed with the restoration process as dictated by the specific software you are using.

From Word 2010, click the "File" dropdown menu and click "Open." Click on "All Files" in the "Files of Type" list and locate your file. If it is there, simply click on the file and click "Open" to restore it. Word 2007 users can simply click the Microsoft Office Button, click "Open," and then follow the rest of the procedure.

Searching for Backup Files

If you are unable to locate a Word backup document within any of the expected locations, you can use your Windows operating system to search your entire hard drive.

From Windows Vista or Windows 7, first click the Start button, type "*.wbk" into the Start Search box and then press Enter. This will immediately search your system for any Word backup files, which are indicated by the .WBK extension. Any files uncovered through this method will then be displayed within the search results.

Windows XP users can accomplish this by clicking the Start button, navigating to "Search" and then clicking on "For Files or Folders." Next, type "*.wbk" within the search box to filter your results by file extension. Finally, click "My Computer" and then "Search Now" to initiate the search.

AutoRecover Files

If you cannot recover your document from a backup file, your next option is to search for any files created by Word's AutoRecover tool. Any such files are normally located and loaded each time Word starts, but there is a means of manually searching for them.

To find the location of your AutoRecover folder, load up the Options menu within your specific version of Word. From there, Word 2007 users can find the path within the "AutoRecover File Location" box, while users of older versions can find the information within the "File Locations" tab. Note the exact path and navigate to the folder within Windows Explorer. Next, simply locate any files with the extension of .ASD and open them in Word to recover the contents.

External Software

External software, such as the proprietary MS Word Document Recovery Utility by R-Tools Technology, can also be quite useful in finding and restoring lost Word documents. Moreover, the software even comes complete with a tool that is able to rebuild damaged or corrupted Word documents.


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