How To: Recover a Microsoft Word document

How to recover a Microsoft Word document depends on how the document was lost in the first place. If the document exists but is damaged or cannot be opened in Microsoft Word then you need to repair it. If it has been lost or deleted then you need to recover it.

Recommended software

  • If the document exists but is damaged or cannot be opened, try WordFIX.
  • If the document is lost or deleted try Word Recovery.

How to repair a damaged Word document

If your Word document exists but is corrupted or damaged - for example, it does not display correctly or in its entirety, or it causes Microsoft Word to freeze or display an error message such as "The document name or path is not valid" - then you can try to repair it. How to repair it depends on how it was damaged. There are several things you can try to repair a Word document:

If the document can be opened in Microsoft Word

If Microsoft Word cannot open the document

If the Microsoft Word document is damaged

These Word document recovery products work in different ways so it is sometimes the case that one will be successful when another isn't. They are quick to use, and available in trial versions so you can see whether one will work for you before buying.

If your Word document is in the DOC format (not DOCX or RTF) then it is worth trying DOC Regenerator. This Microsoft Word document recovery tool scans the entire hard drive so it takes quite a long time but it can often recover a file from previously saved versions.

If the repair tools aren't successful and the lost document is worth spending the time on then try Word Recovery, which may be able to recover previously saved copies of the document.

How to recover a deleted or lost Word document

If you cannot find a Microsoft Word document then it may have been accidentally deleted.

If the document you require isn't in the Recycle Bin then we recommend that you try the Microsoft Word document recovery product Word Recovery. If the document was in the old Microsoft Word DOC format then you could also try DOC Regenerator.