Table of contents

Top Ways to Recover an Unsaved/Deleted/Overwritten Excel File

Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips Updated by Nancy on June 14, 2024 | Approved by Jennifer Allen

Excel is generally used for calculations, visual charts, statistical analysis, etc. Although it is very useful, it can also be problematic. For example:

When you encounter such a tricky situation, is there any chance to recover Excel files? The answer is yes. The main base of this article is to help users to know how to get back the deleted or unsaved Excel in different cases along with their pros and cons so that you can make the best possible choice in their current scenario.

How to Recover an Unsaved Excel File

Can I recover unsaved Excel sheets? Excel's built-in automatic recovery function can help us easily and quickly solve the problem of how to restore Excel forgot to save! They are "Autosave" and "AutoRecover," and check the "UnsavedFiles" folder. Next, you can understand them one by one.

1. Recover Updated Excel Files via AutoRecover

AutoRecover is a built-in feature of Microsoft Excel. By default, it automatically saves a copy of the open Excel file. If Excel quits unexpectedly, you can use this option to recover unsaved Workbooks in Excel.

Best way to regain access to your file
Provides a list of all unsaved files
Applicable Scenarios:
You are working on a new file and have forgotten to save your file.
This method is unsuitable for short-time users since you have to choose from a vast list.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Open Excel and create a blank workbook.
  2. You can see a list of unsaved workbooks in the left panel under the "Document Recovery" option.
  3. You can select your unsaved Excel by file name and edit date.
  4. Finally, select "Open" and check if that's what you need.

2. Recover a New Unsaved Excel File by Autosave

Excel AutoSave is a function that saves the latest document by default that you may have just created but forgot to save. It ensures that users don't lose their important data in case of power failure or computer crashes. If this feature is enabled, it won't be an issue for you to recover deleted Excel files and restore previous versions.

It automatically saves whatever changes you have made in your File within 10 minutes.
Reduces the chance of losing access to your necessary files.
Applicable Scenarios:
Your previously saved file closes before you can keep the changes made since your last save.
Feasible for Microsoft 365 users only.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Head over to the "File" tab. Select "Options" from your file menu.
  2. Click "Save" on the left part of the Excel options dialogue.
  3. Copy the AutoRecover file location such as "C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\" and open it in Explorer.
  4. Check and reopen your unsaved Excel workbook in the open folder.

3. Recover Excel File Not Saved from UnsavedFiles Folder

The office has a folder storing unsaved Word, PowerPoint, and Excel (UnsavedFiles). When you spot an accident, you can go here to try your luck.

An efficient way to find unsaved office files
Applicable Scenarios:
The Excel quit unexpectedly
It needs to store other files so that it can be messy.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Open your new Excel worksheet.
  2. Go to the "File" tab. Tap on "Open."
  3. At the top-left, tap on the "Recent" option.
  4. Press the 'Recover Unsaved Workbooks' icon from the bottom.
  5. In the opened dialogue box, go through the list of all unsaved Workbooks. Open the required workbook.
  6. Go to the 'Save as' icon to save your file, giving a different name per your required location.

Tips: IIf your system is macOS, please go to File > Open > Recent to check unsaved Excel files. You can also use this way to recover unsaved Word documents.

How to Recover Deleted Excel File in Windows 11/10

Two ways to remove a file are routine deletion and permanent removal. If it is the former, then the system will put it in the recycle bin. You can easily find if you need to undo the delete operation. If it's the latter, don't be discouraged. Many third-party tools and simple methods exist to recover Excel files on PC and Mac.

1. Check the Windows Recycle Bin

You may have mistakenly deleted your Excel file from the original folder. Instead, Windows moves the Workbooks directly to the Recycle bin in such a case. To recover a deleted Excel file, you need to read further.

A user-friendly method suitable even for beginners
Recover file within seconds
Applicable Scenarios:
After working on your important document, you accidentally deleted it. As a result, your File is stored in the recycle bin.
It doesn't work if you have deleted all the files from your recycle bin.

2. Recover a Permanently Deleted Excel File Not in Recycle Bin

If you have deleted an Excel workbook from your system, emptied your recycle bin, or removed it entirely before saving your work, don’t worry! The Excel files are not destroyed immediately, and it's easy to proceed with Excel document recovery by following methods:

a. From File History

Turn on the File History Backup to ensure quick recovery of Excel Workbook in Windows 11/10 if you have done backups.

Promotes having a backup of your necessary files
You can save your file in the desired location
Applicable Scenarios:
You have backed up drives/files using file history.
maybe an old version

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Connect the drive for the backup files to the computer.
  2. Head to the search box and type file history on your taskbar.
  3. Click "Restore your files with File history."
  4. Look for all the required files, and operate the arrows to check all the versions.
  5. After looking for your desired version, choose to restore it to save it in its original location.

If you want to save it in any different location, right-tap on restore, select restore and proceed further with a new place.

b. Using a Data Recovery Software

A file recovery tool is the most effective way to recover deleted Excel files without limitation. Here, you can do it with the help of iBeesoft Data Recovery. It is known for its quick recovery rate, beneficial features, and quality service by the users in the market. It's one of the most accessible, professional, and user-friendly tools, made according to the latest market trends and technology.

This tool can recover permanently deleted Excel files on Mac/Windows PC with three simple steps. It can also restore Word documents, audio files, archives, images, videos, etc.

To take full advantage of this tool, ensure you don't use your hard drive or device from where all your necessary files go missing. For in-depth assistance, read the step-by-step guide below.

Download for Windows Download for macOS
Amongst the few tools in the market that can retrieve deleted Excel files within seconds
Possesses the ability to find all the partially destroyed files
Beginners are free to operate this
Version is best both for Windows and Mac users
Applicable Scenarios:
Permanently delete, format the disk/partition, or reinstall the system.
Lose Excel Files without any backup.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. The initial step is downloading iBeesoft Data Recovery by tapping the download icon. Its compatibility with Windows and macOS is spectacular.
  2. Launch this software. First, you must locate the drive from where the workbook is lost. If you feel you have to restore deleted Excel files from the USB Drive, connect it to the system. Select and tap 'Scan.'
  3. When the scanning procedure marks the end, you will notice the found files list. You can select the Excel file to preview to determine if it is what you need.
  4. Select the files you lost and tap 'Recover' to save them at your desired location on the PC.

How to Recover an Overwritten Excel File

1. Check the Excel Versions Option

Excel 2010 and later have a version management function. It is automatically saved at intervals, and you can view all historical versions of the workbook you are editing here.

Multiple historic versions can be selected.
Applicable Scenarios:
Excel no unexpected exits and enable Autosave.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Open the Excel workbooks that need to be restored to the previous version
  2. Navigate to File > Info > Versions

2. Extract from Previous Version Option of Drive/Folder

To recover an overwritten or replaced Excel document, you can first try using the previous file version in the Windows operating system. To get to know how to proceed further, read the below-given directions.

Applicable Scenarios:
You need to enable File History/System Restore Points/Shadow Copies.
Sometimes, it may not be the version you need.

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Locate the present saved Excel file or choose to create a brand new file naming it like the former Excel file, which has been overwritten.
  2. Right-press on the Excel file and select open "Properties."
  3. Select the "Previous Versions" icon.
  4. Opt for the version to restore or the new version of your file.

3. Recover from OneDrive backup

OneDrive backup is one of Microsoft's highly used cloud services, allowing users to share, sync, and store files over the web. An essential part of the Microsoft 365 productivity suite is preinstalled on Windows 10/11 PCs. Users are free to access it with the help of a web browser or directly via the OneDrive application.

Efficient alternative for every Microsoft 365 user
Safe and secure process
Applicable Scenarios:
You want to take help from an in-built Microsoft application to recover deleted Excel file to ensure security and privacy.
Not applicable for users who are using older versions of Microsoft

Step-by-step guide:

  1. You need to sign into your OneDrive with your account.
  2. Click on the workbook you want to restore to an older version and select "Version history" in the right-click menu.
  3. Select the version you want to obtain from the list of Excel edit times.
  4. Finally, click on it and select "Restore/Download" to get the overwritten Excel file.

How to Repair a Corrupted Excel File

Users use Excel for operations such as data storage, data analysis, calculation, etc. Sometimes, workbooks get corrupted due to frequent operations or other reasons. If you encounter such a dilemma, you can try the following methods to fix it.

How to Enable AutoSave for Easy Unsaved Excel File Recovery

AutoSave is one of the most valuable features accessible in PowerPoint, Excel, and Word for Microsoft 365 subscribers, which can save documents automatically as you work. It's set up by default in Microsoft 365 when you store your file in SharePoint Online, OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business. Get to know how to recover deleted Excel sheets via the steps below:

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to the File tab > Open Excel.
  2. Save the file through the 'save' option in your Excel dialogue box.
  3. Look for the option – 'Save AutoRecover info every' checkbox. The time set by default is 10 minutes. You are free to use the time as per your need.
  4. Get to the option – "AutoSave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default in Excel. This option is only available for users of Office 365 only & saves the work in a few seconds once you turn on Autosaver.

Additional Tip: If you want to enjoy the advantage of 'AutoSave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default in Excel, ' your file must be in the latest format, i.e., XLSX, not XLS.

Tips for Keeping Your Excel Files Safe

There are many reasons why an Excel workbook can be lost accidentally. But you can take the following measures to keep it safe:


After going through this guide, you will be acquainted with convenient ways to recover deleted Excel files in various situations and on devices. For example, if you accidentally forgot to save your Excel files, you can apply any one of the resolutions above to recover the Excel file.

It also encourages users to do a regular backup of the Excel files not to lose hold of it even when they go through a system crash or permanently remove the files. So, for example, if you rely on a third-party tool, make sure to use the iBeesoft data recovery tool. It's the most comprehensive tool to recover Excel files with free download and valuable features.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • A: If you close Excel without saving the workbook you are editing, the data you added will disappear. You can reopen Excel to retrieve the unsaved Excel file version in the left panel.

  • A: You can easily find the target file if you have created a backup. If not, you can use Excel's "Autosave" and "AutoRecover" functions to find the previous workbook version. If it still doesn't work, you can use iBeesoft Data Recovery to help you restore deleted Excel files in Windows 11/10 and Mac.

  • A: No, it will be more challenging to get back the remove Excel unless you have a copy because any recovery software cannot get permission to scan this network drive.

  • No, currently, no online tool to retrieve lost Excel files from local drives. It will involve personal privacy and permissions issues, which is almost impossible. Don't worry. You can also use the data recovery app to help you.

  • A: Go with the steps:

    1. Open Excel and get started with a new workbook. Head over to the File tab.
    2. Choose open > recent
    3. At the bottom, tap on the recovered unsaved workbooks.
    4. Look for your unsaved file in the dialog box and save them in your new location.
  • A: Your unsaved Excel files are stored in the folder C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles.

    1. Download and install iBeesoft free data recovery software.
    2. Select the folder where the workbook is missing and click the scan button.
    3. Select the found Excel file and click the Recover button to save it to your computer.
  • A: You can retrieve files deleted in Windows 11 through File History and previous versions. If that fails, then you can also rely on iBeesoft Data Recovery. As long as the Excel lost location doesn't save new data, then it can help you.