How To: Recover Microsoft Office (Word, Excel) files
This tutorial shows how to recover Office documents using Office Recovery software.
If you have lost valuable work in Microsoft Office files - Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, Visio drawings, Publisher projects - then of course you will be very anxious to get this work back. We will assume that you have checked other recovery options such as backups and the Recycle Bin, and have searched your drive in case the document was simply saved somewhere else by mistake.
Choosing a recovery tool
If you know that your files were deleted by accident not too long ago, then a simple undelete or unerase utility should get them back. If you wish to try this then we recommend Uneraser.
If you aren't sure how the files were lost, if the disk or drive has been reformatted or repartitioned, or if they were deleted a long time ago, then recovery will be more difficult. It is by no means certain that it will be possible to recover the files at all, since their contents will now be on disk space that Windows considers to be unallocated, and it may already have re-used some or all of it.
But if the data is still there, the modern generation of do it yourself data recovery products offer a good probability of getting it back. For the best chance of recovery we advise you to use a product developed specifically for recovery of the types of file you have lost.
For Microsoft Office files we recommend Office Recovery. However, if you only need to recover Microsoft Word documents a lower-priced alternative is Word Recovery, while if you have lost Microsoft Excel files, Excel Recovery will do the job.
This tutorial illustrates the recovery process using Office Recovery. However, the procedure is exactly the same if you use Word Recovery or Excel Recovery. The user interface is the same. Only the range of file types that can be recovered is different.
Step 1: Start the software
Start Office Recovery. You'll see that the user interface has a Wizard format. The recovery process will take several steps. In each step you will make a selection or note information from the window and then click a button to move to the next step.
Step 2: Drive selection
Select the drive containing the documents or files that have been lost.
Step 3: Scanning the drive
Wait while the software scans the drive searching for Microsoft Office document files.
Whenever a new document is found, details of the document and a small preview of it are displayed. The progress bar shows you how far the scan has got.
Step 4: Review the results
When scanning has finished, Office Recovery will show a list of all the files it found. Click to select any file and it will be displayed in the preview window. Note that you can resize the window in order to see the preview better. Click Settings to change the way the list of files is displayed.
Clicking Preview will display the selected document in a separate preview window. Clicking Properties will display the document's file summary information, with information such as the document title, author name, original file name, size, word count and the date and time it was created.
Step 5: Selecting the files to recover
The files to be recovered are selected by ticking the box beside each one. You can select all the files, or clear all the selections, using the Select All and Clear All buttons.
It's possible that hundreds, or even thousands of documents may be found when scanning your hard drive. Many of these files may not need to be recovered. By default, Office Recovery even shows you files that already exist. (This can be useful if you need to recover files to which you have lost the access rights.)
This is where Office Recovery's Filters can save you a lot of time. You can use the filters to limit the selection of files that are displayed, using criteria such as:
- Text - enter a string of text which the document must contain;
- Title - enter text that must appear in the document title;
- Author - enter the author's name (this must be recorded in the document);
- Document type - check off the file types you are interested in;
- Size - limit the selection by the size of the file;
- Modification date - specify a time or date range during which the lost file was last changed;
- Whether the file is lost or deleted, or already exists.
With the help of the filters, you can select the documents you need to recover. You can use the document preview to check your selection, and verify that the file is still intact.
Step 6: Recovering the documents
Having selected the files you wish to recover by ticking the boxes beside them, click Recover. At this point, if you're using the trial version of the software, you'll need to purchase a license key for it. Enter in the name and key you are given, and you can then continue with the data recovery.
Select a destination folder to save the recovered documents. Note that this should be on a different drive to the one the files were on originally. This is to avoid the risk of overwriting the data before it has been recovered. (The data may be overwritten because it is stored on disk space that Windows considers to be unallocated, and available for re-use.) If you don't have a second hard drive or an external drive or network drive available then an inexpensive USB Flash drive may be a suitable alternative. Writing the saved documents to CD or DVD is not recommended, as CD writing usually occurs via intermediate temporary storage on the hard disk.
Step 7: Finished
Click Next. The recovered documents will be saved to the specified location.
You can now open this folder and move the files back to their original location. You may also need to rename the files, because the original filenames will probably have been lost.