If you often write, edit, or handle Word documents, you probably have first-hand experience with how painful and easy it can be to lose one. Say, if you’ve been organizing your working folder and accidentally deleted a newer version of an important file instead of the older one. Or if your computer crashed while you were working on an important document. 

In such cases, there’s an array of data recovery methods to choose from and restore your Word files.

Is it Possible to Recover Deleted Word Files?

Yes, your Word files can be recovered easily if you choose the tool that best fits your requirements. There are also specific steps and precautions that you must follow to ensure safe, efficient file recovery.

However, if you realize you’ve lost your file and need to get it back, start the data recovery process immediately. Here, the sooner, the better. In such cases, you can often find your files in the Recycle Bin or employ simple, DIY methods to retrieve them.

However, if they don’t work or you’ve used Shift + Delete to remove the file, you can shift to professional data recovery software.

Method #1: Searching for AutoRecover Files

If you lose your files due to human error or system crashes, Microsoft Word has a beneficial feature called AutoRecover that can help you restore your documents. If you’ve enabled AutoRecovery, Word will keep saving your file at regular intervals of time while you’re working on it. This eliminates the need to save the document manually and even creates a temporary folder to recover the file if a data-loss situation arises.

You can turn on AutoRecover by following these steps:

Go to File < Options < Save < Save AutoRecover information every _ minutes.
enabling autosave on word

There’s another way for you to find your lost files using AutoRecover. If you also have the Always Create Backup Copy selected, Word automatically creates backup copies of your files. 

These files are saved with the .wbk extension, and you can find them by going to this field:

Go to File < Options < Save < AutoRecover File Location

Now, head to the mentioned AutoRecover location and open the .wbk backup files just like you would regular Word documents.

Bonus: Recover from Temporary Files

There’s another way to find previous versions of your Word documents using the AutoRecover feature. If Word does not show your file even after AutoRecover has been turned on, you can look for them manually. These files use the .asd extension. You can recover these .asd files by following these steps:

  1. Open the File tab in MS Word.
  2. Go to Manage Document and select Recover Unsaved Documents.
    accessing options on microsoft word
  3. If you’ve lost your file recently, it should appear in the dialogue box.
  4. Now, open your recovered Word document and click the Save As button.

Method #2: Restarting Word to open AutoRecover Files

If you’ve turned on AutoRecover and you experience an unexpected computer crash, you don’t need to worry. There is a simple, straightforward method that will help recover your file. Word automatically restores the document you had been working on. You just need to follow these instructions:

  1. Once you restart your device and Word comes back online, you will find the Document Recovery panel on the left. 
    recovering unsaved word documents
  2. Under this panel, you will find Autosaved versions of your file along with a timestamp.
  3. Open the version you want to recover, and you’re done.

Method #3: Restore Deleted Word Documents From OneDrive

how to retrieve deleted word documentFor some time now, Word can save documents to the cloud, allowing you to access your files from anywhere and easily collaborate with others. To take advantage of this feature, you need to be a user of OneDrive, which is Microsoft’s file hosting service and synchronization service.

You will then get the option to save files to your OneDrive account instead of saving them locally on your computer. When a file is stored on OneDrive, you can enable the AutoSave feature by clicking on a button located in the top-left corner of the main Word window to save your documents automatically, every few seconds, as you work.

Steps to Restore Deleted Word Documents in OneDrive

  1. Visit OneDrive and sign in.how to recover lost word document
  2. Select Recycle bin in the navigation panel.
  3. Select the Word document you want to recover and click the Restore button.how to recover deleted word documents

Method #4: Checking the Recycle Bin

Let’s look at the Word file recovery process from the Recycle Bin:

  1. Click on the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop.
  2. Once you’ve opened the folder, find the file you want to recover. If you can’t find it by name, search for DOC, DOCX, and DOT extensions files.
  3. Now, select your file and right-click on it. Use the Restore option to send the file back to its original location.
    recovering word files from the recycle bin

Method #5: Data recovery software for Windows

Disk Drill is a data recovery tool that delivers professional results even though it was developed with the average user in mind.

Thanks to Disk Drill, you can avoid spending hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars on professional data recovery services while achieving the same results—just from the comfort of your own home and possibly even for free because Disk Drill lets you recover up to 500 MB of data without paying, which is more than enough for hundreds of Word documents.

Steps to Recover Deleted Word Documents on Windows

  1. Download Disk Drill from its official website.
    Disk Drill
    Data recovery for free
    Your Companion for Deleted Files Recovery
  2. Open Disk Drill.
  3. Click the Search for lost data button next to your storage device.
    how to recover deleted word document
  4. Select Word documents for recovery.
    how to restore deleted word document
  5. Begin the recovery process by clicking the Recover button one last time.
    restore deleted word document windows

The second you launch Disk Drill, you notice that it certainly doesn’t look like your average data recovery tool. For starters, Disk Drill has a beautiful user interface that makes it effortless even for complete novices to figure out how to recover deleted Word documents with it. 

✔️ All major storage devices are supported, so it doesn’t mean if you’re reading this article because you want to learn how to retrieve deleted Word documents from a traditional hard drive or a portable USB flash drive—Disk Drill works equally well with all kinds of storage devices.

How to Prevent Your Word Files from Being Lost or Deleted?

It can be pretty frustrating to lose your Word file when you’ve spent so much time working on it. While there are several available methods to help recover your lost or deleted files, it might be a good idea to follow a few practices that can help prevent data loss. Let’s go through some of these tips and tricks:

  • ↪️ Enable AutoRecover – The AutoRecover feature on Word is very useful to assist you in recovering your files that are lost due to system crashes, user error, program issues, etc. Ensure that you’ve turned on this feature to protect your files in these situations.
  • 💾 Keep diversified backups – It is essential to keep multiple backups for your Word files to prevent complete data loss. We recommend that you keep saving your document at regular intervals and make backups across different devices. To avoid significant data loss, you can save your files on external drives, cloud storage solutions, etc.
  • 💻 Don’t overload your drive – Ensure that you don’t store your files on the same drive as your software/operating system. System failures or malware affect this drive first, and in such a scenario, all your data can be lost. Make sure your word files are saved onto a separate drive to avoid this.
  • ❌ Be cautious of user errors – You can use advanced options like versioning features and tracked changes to protect your files and avoid user errors. You can often lose data while editing or deleting certain parts of the documents. These features can help record your changes and allow you to return to a particular version if needed without losing data. 


It’s possible to lose your Word documents for a variety of reasons. While you must take steps to safeguard your files, data loss can often be unforeseen and unpredictable. In such situations where you end up losing your files, you can choose from the many available data recovery methods.

The solutions mentioned in this article are quite reliable, safe, and user-friendly. You just need to follow a few simple steps to recover your lost or deleted word file for free. 


Joshua Solomon

Technology, SaaS, and digital marketing are Joshua's go-to niches. He understands the need for simple and easy-to-read articles on the internet. As technologies grow in complexity, guides and how-to pieces must remain com...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.