Recover Excel file manually

2009/05/08 § Leave a comment

This is a description of how to recover an Excel file if auto-recovery tells you that it cannot be recovered anymore.

This might in principle work similarly for Microsoft Excel itself, but I am using Open Office at the moment and cannot check right now if it is the same.

What happened?

You open an Excel file and alter it, before saving it properly something interrupts your session (power shortcut in my case, but it could be anything that stops you from saving the file).

When trying to restart Open Office (Excel?) it will ask you if you want to recover the former file. Then it will tell you that the file cannot be recovered. When looking at the original file you discover that its size is tiny (in my case 2 KB instead of some two hundred). Something went wrong…

Possible solution:

If you run Open Office on a Microsoft XP system (I am on an EeePC) this may work:

1) Go to the Local Disk (often “C”), open the “Administrator folder”

2) Open the “Application Data”

3) Open the “OpenOffice” folder.

4) Here you find a subfolder called “user”.

5) Within this folder called “user” there is a folder called “backup”, where you may (and should) find recently used files.

6) Find the excel file you are trying to recover; HOWEVER, the ending will be “.bak” instead of for instance “.xls”!

7) Copy the file you are recovering and paste it to another folder.

8.) Here rename the ending to the original excel ending (e.g. .xls). You may be warned about this change, but go ahead since you are working on a copy of the BAK-file (DO NOT of course use the BAK-file you found in the OpenOffice folder, as this is your only backup of the original).

9) Now open it. You may first see the auto-recovery screen. Go ahead and choose to auto-recover, the file should then open at the sport where you were before the session was interrupted.

Let me know if there are additions to this, or if it did not work for you. Naturally, each situation is slightly different and this may not at all help you. Did do it for me several times already though…


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