How to Recover Deleted Excel Files

When you delete an Excel file, all is not necessarily lost. Windows has recovery options, which may put your workbook back where it belongs. If you closed a file without saving it, Excel may have kept a copy. If you deleted a saved workbook, you may be able to restore it from your system's Recycle Bin or File History tool, if enabled.

Recover an Unsaved Excel File

Open Excel and select Open Other Workbooks. Go to the bottom of the next screen and select the Recover Unsaved Workbooks link.

Excel may store deleted files in an unsaved files folder
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Look for the deleted file in the window that opens. It won't have a name, as you hadn't gotten around to saving it, so use the Date Modified field to identify it. Select the file and then Open.

Excel marks some deleted files as unsaved
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Select the Save As button in the recovery message to save the file.

Save the file immediately to avoid losing it again
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Restore a File From the Recycle Bin

Although it may look like files are no longer on your system when you delete them, some end up in the Recycle Bin. Find a file there, and you can restore it.

Go to the desktop and open Recycle Bin. If you can't immediately see the file in the list, type its name in the Search bar and select the magnifying glass icon. If you can't remember the name, select Sort By and sort the data by Item Type to organize by file extension, or Date Deleted.

The Recycle Bin has various sorting options
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Select the file and then Restore The Selected Items to send the workbook back to its original location.

You can also restore a file by right-clicking it and selecting Restore
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Find a File in File History

Windows 8 has a backup tool, File History, that stores files from various locations in your system, including the desktop and documents.

If you have activated File History, open File Explorer from your desktop or type File Explorer in your Home screen and open the program from the results. Open the folder that contained the file you deleted, and select History from the Open area.

You may find various versions of files in File History
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Windows stores your file history by day. Go to the date you deleted the file and find it in the list. If you aren't sure you've found the correct file, right-click it and select Preview. Select Restore to put the file back in its original folder or Restore To to save to a different location.

If you aren't sure where you originally saved a file, save it to a new location
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