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Understanding Microsoft Word's AutoSave Function

Microsoft Word is undoubtedly one of the most popular office applications available on the consumer market today. With practical uses at home, in school and in business settings, millions of users rely upon Word to complete their day-to-day functionality. Microsoft Word is not perfect, however, and everyday users of the program do run the risk of losing their data; whether it is caused by faulty hardware, a power outage or even user error. Thankfully, Word employs an AutoRecover safeguard that is meant to protect your important documents.

What is AutoRecover

Just as the name states, the purpose of the AutoRecover application is to facilitate the restoration of document that is lost due to a sudden power outage or system crash. Keep in mind that AutoRecover cannot be used to recover Word documents that have been erased from a system's hard drive.

How Does AutoRecover Work?

AutoRecover works by saving a document's image into an .ASD file at regular intervals. This file is overwritten each time a new save is initiated, and the file is deleted completely when Word is shutdown successfully. If your system is shutdown prematurely, however, and without properly saving your document and shutting down Word, the .ASD file remains on your hard drive as a backup of your work.

The next time Microsoft Word is loaded, it will then execute a quick scan for any .ASD files. If an .ASD file is detected, Word automatically loads the file through the AutoRecover program and immediately converts any .ASD extensions to .WBK before presenting you with the recovery option. Once loaded, you will be given the choice of either saving the newly recovered file or closing the recovered file without saving the data.

If you wish to manually locate and restore a Word image file, navigate to the folder where your backups are made and view its contents. Word 7.x saves document images using the convention "Wra####.asd," with a number that is randomly generated by Word. The naming convention in earlier versions of Word uses the format of "AutoRecovery save of .asd." Simply change the extension of the file to .DOC, the standard Word format, and you can open the file normally through Microsoft Word. This is useful if Microsoft Word crashes or freezes up while attempting to perform the AutoRecovery process.


Because AutoRecover works automatically, as its name implies, there is little participation on the user's part. However, there are a few options you can adjust in order to customize the AutoRecover program to your liking.

Users can control the location where .ASD files are stored. To do this in Microsoft Word 2007, click the Microsoft Office Button and then navigate to "Word Options." Click "Advanced" in the left pane and then locate the General section within the right pane. From there, simply click on "File Locations" and enter the path to a new location.

In Microsoft Word 7.x, you can change the location by clicking on "AutoSave" and then clicking "Modify." Here, simply input the name of the folder where you want the .ASD files saved. You can also click "Create New Folder" if necessary.


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