How To Recover MS Excel File If Unwanted Changes Are Made

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Article ID: 150368 - View products that this article applies to.
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In Microsoft Excel, if you save unwanted changes to a file, you may be able to recover the original file.


When you save changes a Microsoft Excel file, the following occurs:

  • The changed file is saved to a temporary file.
  • The original file is deleted.
  • The temporary file is renamed to the original file name.
For additional information, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
103329 XL: Error Message When You Try to Save a File
The deleted original file is located in the same directory or folder as the newly modified file in Windows. On the Macintosh, temporary files are placed in an invisible folder called Temporary Items in the root level of the hard disk.

WARNING: Microsoft does not guarantee that any deleted Microsoft Excel file can be recovered, or if recovered, that the file will be reliable.

The method that you use to recover a deleted file is dependent on the operating system that you are using. To recover a deleted file, you need a utility program to accomplish the task.

MS-DOS, versions 6.0 and later, ships with a utility called Undelete, which you can use to recover deleted files. However, the following operating systems do not ship with a utility to recover deleted files:

   MS-DOS 5.0 and earlier
   Macintosh (all Systems)
   Windows NT
   Windows 95

Windows NT does not allow deleted files to be recovered, and therefore, no undelete utilities are available.

Third-party programs are available that can recover deleted files.

For more information about undeleting files, consult the manual included with your operating system or your undelete utility.

The probability that you will have success in recovering a deleted file depends on the amount of disk activity that has taken place since the file has been deleted. In general, you have a better chance of recovering a deleted file if you attempt to undelete it immediately after the file is deleted.


Article ID: 150368 - Last Review: August 17, 2005 - Revision: 1.3
  • Microsoft Excel 97 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 98 for Macintosh
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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