Microsoft Word has a feature capable of recovering lost or corrupt Word documents. Word contains an recovery feature called Microsoft Word AutoRecovery which can recover files in many circumstances. Even if Word’s AutoRecovery does not work, there are still ways to retrieve lost Word documents.
Backup Word Document File
Before beginning any of these steps, make a backup copy of the corrupted Word document, if it exists on the hard drive.
Word AutoRecovery File
Word’s AutoRecovery feature is not foolproof. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s very important to make sure a backup copy of the document has been made before trying Word’s AutoRecovery. Exit or kill any remaining Word programs that are still running in the computer.
When Word starts up, it may detect that a document has been corrupted or missing, and needs to be recovered from a Word AutoRecovery file. The user selects from one of the previous versions of the file. Select an acceptable previous version of the Word document and cross the fingers. Sometimes the user gets what he needs. But in some cases, AutoRecovery only results in partial recovery of text.
If the user wants to search for AutoRecovery files manually, search for files with the filename extension .ASD.
Windows Vista Shadow Copy
Windows Vista automatically saves a few recent version of some files with a feature called Shadow Copy. If the system runs Vista, right click on the Word document file and select Properties. In some cases, previous versions of the file may have been saved. Choose one of the earlier versions to see if there is enough recent text for a successful Word document recovery.
Word Document Recovery With Chkdsk
If the files do not exist anywhere on the hard drive or USB drive, they may still exist as lost fragments. Go to the Start Menu and click on Run. In the box that pops up, type “cmd.” From the command line windows that appears, run the following
chkdsk C: /r
Where C is the drive letter. This program locates bad sectors and restores readable information to the hard drive. The files will have names similar to “File0001.CHK.” The recovered files may not be readable by Microsoft Word, but you may be able recover part of the missing text from those files using another text editor such as Notepad, thereby saving hours of work. One type of text editor that works well for this is called a hex editor, which is well suited to handle files that may contain lots of garbage data along with recoverable text.
Although recovering Word documents is difficult, it is often possible to salvage much of the work, if not all of it. If none of those options work, a hard drive recovery service or a specialized Word document recovery program may be options to consider. It is rare that a corrupt Word doc cannot at least be partially recovered.
Recover Deleted Computer Files
Have you ever pulled an all-nighter to get that project completed only to have your computer crash and the all too important files sent to oblivion? Or, have you deleted a file or folder just a bit too soon. Fortunately nothing is permanently deleted from a computer. Short of formatting your computer’s hard drive there are few ways to permanently delete files or folders. And, while you may not be able to find lost files easily on your own there are programs available to recover the lost data.
Data Recovery Utilities
Programs such as DiskInternals Uneraser, Undelete, PC Inspector File Recovery and more programs are available free for download. These programs specialize in finding file information even when the header is no longer available. Data and file recovery programs support a variety of file formats including zip files, documents, music and more. You can also find file recovery tools for specific file types to increase your chances of finding a specific file. For example DOC Regenerator will be more adept at restoring Microsoft Word documents than a generic file recovery program.
Don’t Touch that Computer
It is important to limit the use of your computer when you have lost a file. The chances of recovering a file decrease over time as well as with excess use of the hard drive where the file is located. The more work you continue to do on your computer after losing a file adds more and more information to the hard drive forcing the deleted file’s information to become more spread out and potentially irretrievable. For this reason use caution when downloading and installing file recovery programs to recover a deleted or lost file.
If it is possible use a different computer to locate and download the file recovery tool of your choice. Some file recovery tools can be run directly from a disk and will not need to be downloaded to your computer at all. For programs that do require installation you should install on a different hard drive if feasible. This will help keep your hard drive as close to its state at the time the file was lost as possible.
Alternate Uses for Data Recovery Tools
Many file recovery programs offer additional features. PC Inspector, for example, can track down and permanently delete any pesky file or folder leftovers that could potentially be recovered by others. This security feature allows you to remove sensitive material from your computer without formatting the drive.