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How to Recover Deleted Excel Files Or Unsaved Excel files in Windows?

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Connie Yang

Written by

Connie Yang
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee


Summary: This article tells how to recover unsaved Excel files in 2 ways. It also covers how to recover permanently deleted Excel files in Windows with easy-to-follow steps, including using the iBoysoft Data Recovery app.

how to recover deleted Excel files in Windows

It may frustrate you a lot when you forget to save or accidentally delete an important Excel document after working on it for hours and days. When you delete Excel files from your Windows computer and empty the Recycle Bin, the deleted data would disappear from your computer but the Excel file contents would not be destroyed immediately.

Windows operating system will mark Excel files for deletion and keep file contents in the file system database until new data is written to the same location. This means you still have a chance to recover deleted Excel files.

Fortunately, this article is here to teach you how to recover unsaved Excel files using several different methods as well as to recover permanently deleted Excel files in Windows with easy-to-follow steps.

How to recover the unsaved Excel file in Windows

No matter whether your Excel worksheet is saved or not, you still have a chance to save this situation. Given these two situations, we will give solutions accordingly, please adopt anyone according to the situation you encounter. Firstly, we'll talk about how to recover the unsaved Excel file in Windows OS in 2 ways.

Method 1: Recover Excel files with inbuilt AutoSave tool

When using Excel, you may experience a system crash or power failure, and suddenly your PC shuts down that making it too late for you to save the important Excel files. Or maybe you just forget to save, or mistakenly click the "Don't save" option, so that your previous data or changes you have made are lost.

Luckily, Microsoft has built an autosave function into the app that can recover unsaved Excel files. It's called AutoRecover and here's how to use it to get back a lost Excel file that was not saved.

  1. Launch Excel and go to the File tab. 
    File tab in Excel
  2. Go to Info, find Manage Workbook, then click Recover Unsaved Workbooks
    recover unsaved workbooks in Excel
  3. Then your unsaved Excel files will be shown in the pop-up window. Select the unsaved files you want to restore. 
    unsaved files in Excel
  4. Don't forget to click File and then go to Save As to save your files carefully this time.

To use the AutoRecover feature, you need to turn on it and configure its settings in Excel. Within this function, you can even control how often files are saved automatically. If you have no idea how to achieve it, use the following steps to configure AutoRecover in Excel.

  1. Start Excel, still go to the File tab and choose Options
    Options tab in Excel
  2. Click on the Save tab in the left panel. 
    configure Autorecover in Excel
  3. Ensure that both the Save AutoRecover information every X minutes and Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving are checked. And we recommend you set the save interval to 1 minute to eliminate the possibility of losing a lot of unsaved Excel document work.
  4. Click on OK.

Method 2: Restore unsaved Excel files from the Recent File Option

If the method above doesn't work, try to use the Recent File Option to recover unsaved Excel files by doing the following:

  1. Start Excel, and go to the File tab.
  2. Click Open in the left panel. 
    click Open in Excel
  3. Scroll down and click the Recover Unsaved Workbooks button at the bottom of the window.
  4. Locate the lost file and double-click it to open the Excel document.
  5. The file will open in Excel and you can click the Save As option to save the Excel file to your desired location.

How to recover deleted Excel files in Windows

If you are faced with a lost or deleted Excel file, there are several methods provided to recover files.

Solution 1: Recover deleted Excel files from Recycle Bin

Just like Mac trash, Windows also has a very helpful utility named Recycle Bin. It is designed to temporarily store all your deleted items including Excel documents, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc.

When you realize you accidentally delete an important Microsoft office Excel that you need, don't worry, check your Recycle Bin first. Here's how to recover a deleted Excel file using the Recycle Bin with ease.

  1. On your computer, double-click on the Recycle bin icon to open it.
  2. Search if the Excel file or data you need is present.
  3. Right-click on the appropriate Excel file and select the Restore option. 
    recover Excel file from Recycle Bin
  4. The Excel file will be restored to the previous location it initially was present as if it was never lost.

If you don't find the Excel files you need in the Recycle Bin, it means you have deleted the data for more than 30 days or you empty your Recycle Bin once. Then, try the following solutions to get your Excel file back.

Solution 2: Recover lost Excel files from Previous Versions

To restore deleted saved Excel files, you can use Windows Previous Versions to help you. If you activated it before you lost data, it will include all recent versions of a kind of system backup for files. Then, try the below steps to recover Excel files.

  1. Open File Explorer, and go to the original folder of the missing Excel files. This is the folder of the file being present pre-deletion.
  2. Right-click on the folder and select the Restore Previous Versions option. This will display multiple versions saved by Windows. 
    select Restore Previous Versions in Windows
  3. Select the latest version of the file and then click Restore. 
    restore deleted Excel files using Previous Versions in Windows

Solution 3: Restore deleted files with File History

If you have a good habit of backup files regularly with the native Windows facility - File History, then you can recover deleted Excel files with File History by doing these steps:

  1. Start the Control Panel, click System and Security.
  2. Click File History
    select File History in Windows
  3. Then go to Restore personal files
    restore personal files in File History
  4. Find your deleted Excel files, then click the Recycle icon at the bottom of this window to restore your lost Excel files. 
    recover deleted Excel files using File History

And please be noted that: Just like restoring files using Previous Versions, this process only works when a backup of your files is prepared already. Otherwise, you will only get a warning said there is no backup to restore. So it is advisable to make backup regularly.

Solution 4: Retrieve Excel files using Windows File Recovery

If you don't have any backups to restore from, to restore deleted saved Excel files, an official data recovery software developed by Microsoft could be utilized - Windows File Recovery, a command-line app. But before starting recovering, you have some pre-work to do:

First, figure out your File System. Go to This PC, right-click on the drive that contains the deleted files, and click Properties. Then decide which recovery mode to use according to your File System and data loss scenario:

file system requirements in Windows File Recovery

If you need to narrow the scanning range, use these switches:

switches in Windows File Recovery

Now, do the following to use Windows File Recovery to get your files back:

  1. Go to Microsoft Store, search for Windows File Recovery, and click Get
    download Windows File Recovery
  2. Start Windows File Recovery, and input the data recovery command. The command template goes like this:winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]
  3. For example, if you are using NTFS, and you have deleted your Excel files in C: drive for a few days, so you choose Extensive mode, and you don't know the specific name, then you could use a wildcard "*", and you want to recover them to E: drive, then you need to input:winfr C: E: /segment /n *.xlsxrecover deleted Excel files with Windows File Recovery
  4. Then input y to continue. Then wait for the recovery process to finish, a recovery folder will be created in the destination.

Pleased be noted that this data recovery software applies to Windows 10 and later. And it is recommended to store the recovered files not on the same as the drive where you have lost Excel files.

Solution 5: Recover deleted Excel files with a third-party software

Since Windows File Recovery is a command-line data recovery app, using this tool could be pretty difficult for ordinary users. Thus, the best choice to recover lost Excel files is to use an easy-to-use third-party data recovery software.

iBoysoft Data Recovery, a professional data recovery tool with a graphical user interface, works fine on Windows 11/10/8/7/XP and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003. Using the iBoysoft data recovery app for Windows, there is no need to worry about complex commands. You just need only a few simple clicks to recover deleted or lost files in Windows.

It not only supports Excel file recovery, but also can recover deleted photos, missing videos, and other disappeared Microsoft office documents. This data recovery software also can recover data from the USB flash drive, memory card, SSD, and any other storage device.

To perform Excel file recovery with the iBoysoft app, do the following:

  1. Free download, install and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery on your PC. After launching the software, you will see the home window as below. As you can see, the interface is very simple. 
    iBoysoft Data Recovery main interface
  2. Select Data Recovery, and then choose the volume that contains your deleted Excel files previously in the drive list and click Next to start Microsoft Excel file recovery
    iBoysoft Data Recovery scanning lost files
  3. Preview the recovered files after the scanning process is finished. 
    Preview files with iBoysoft Data Recovery
  4. Select needed files, and then click the Recover button. Save the recovered Excel data to another safe place (Do not put it in the original location).

How to avoid Excel file data loss situation

Well, here are some of the tips that will help you to avoid major Excel sheet data loss situations:

  • Always make the backup of the files, and folder before deleting it.
  • Hit the Ctrl + Z keys on your keyboard to undo delete your Excel files, and the files will go back to the computer hard drive location. But it requires no further action on the computer after deleting the Excel file.
  • Utilize good antivirus software to prevent the Excel files corruption with a virus.
  • Do not save recovered Microsoft office Excel files to the original location where you have lost the Excel files.