How to Recover Overwritten MS Excel or Word Document

Office 365
When working on MS Excel or Word documents, often users accidentally overwrite files that can cause a nuisance. The issue of data overwriting happens when a user stores a new file on the computer with the same name as an already existing file. In this type of situation, the user accidentally clicks the button “replace" the old file with the new one.

You may also overwrite data if you continue to work on a corrupted system that has lost some files but you keep storing new data. While it is easier to recover deleted files from the recycle bin, the process of recovering overwritten documents can be complex. You may even think that overwritten file is lost forever. However, whether you have accidentally deleted a file or encountered an overwriting issue, the file remains in certain parts of your hard drive or RAID. If you have some technical background, you can follow certain steps and use different methods to recover an overwritten MS Excel or Word Document.

Recover Unsaved Workbooks

Microsoft Excel and MS Word are important components of the Microsoft Office suite. These are the two most popular programs used for creating electronic documents, tables, presentations, databases, and more. However, MS Word and Excel can encounter several errors and issues that can make your current files disappear, leaving no trace. And when that happens, you may either seek the services of a data recovery professional or use some DIY methods. In this post, you can learn some simple solutions to recover overwritten Excel files or Word documents.


Methods to Recover Overwritten MS Word or Excel File

When it comes to retrieving an overwritten file, Microsoft Office provides some options to help users get back their documents. Typically, two methods are used to recover an overwritten Excel/Word file from your computer. One is using the Temporary folder section of your Windows OS and the other option is to find the previous version of the file. Below we have mentioned these methods in detail for recovering overwritten Excel or Word files on the Windows or Mac system. The exact steps of recovery may vary for each version of Windows OS but the method remains more or less the same.


Recovering Overwritten Files from the Previous Version

If you’re using Windows PC and want to recover an overwritten file, you need to open Windows Explorer and go to the folder where you saved the file. Inside this folder, right-click on the white space and select Properties. This will open a menu from which you need to select the Previous Versions tab to find out an earlier version of the overwritten file. For Word doc, you can also use the Manage Document feature by opening the File menu.

If MS Word or Excel doc is overwritten with or from the previous version, both Windows and Mac users can manually recover a file using the previous version feature. Users can restore a file from backup and the previous versions can be accessed from File History or restore points. If your system has a Windows backup option activated, you can restore the previous version of the file. To find your lost or saved-over file, you need to create a new Word/Excel doc with the same name as your lost/overwritten file. Now, right-click on this doc and select "Properties"> click "Previous Versions"> select the version you want> click "Restore".


Recover Overwritten Excel/Word Document from Temporary Files

When working on MS Word or Excel, the Microsoft Office program for the backup purpose automatically creates some temporary files. If your Windows computer has the AutoRecover feature activated and previous files aren’t overwritten by the temp files, then it is possible to restore the previous version of the Excel file or Word document from the temporary files. On Windows 8 and 10, you can find the temporary files in the temp file folder with the help of command:

C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles\ OR

To find temporary files on Windows 7:

C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Micrsoft\Excel (Word)\

For recovering the recent unsaved spreadsheets, you can also try to recover unsaved files from temporary files by opening your Excel. Go to File > Info and select Manage Workbook. Select the option "Recover Unsaved Workbooks".


Recover Overwritten Files on Mac OS X

Mac OS X users might have more chances of recovering overwritten files than Windows users. Mac users can get back overwritten files if the Time Machine feature is active on the device. In this case, the user needs to find the folder that contains the overwritten file in the "Finder". Once you find the folder, select a previous version of the file from Time Machine’s vault.

However, if none of the above-mentioned methods work, the best and safest option to recover overwritten Excel or Word files is to find qualified data recovery services. Whether you have accidentally formatted, deleted, or overwritten a file, data recovery specialists can recover all types of documents.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

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