How to Recover Lost Excel Files

By Bonnie Conrad

Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used spreadsheet programs on the market, and as such it is used to create everything from household inventories to company budgets. With so many critical spreadsheets in use, computer users need to know what to do when one of their files goes missing.

Step 1

Log on to your computer and open Microsoft Excel. Look for a message about recovered files. If the auto-recovery function is turned on, the files you are working on will automatically be saved at the intervals you specify, allowing you to recover lost files in the event of a power failure or computer crash.

Step 2

Double-click on any recoverable files, then immediately save those files before continuing your work. You might also want to save a backup copy of the file under a different name. To save the file under another name, simply click the "File" menu and choose the "Save As" option.

Step 3

Click on the "Start" menu and choose "Search" from the menu. Choose the "All Files and Folders" option and type "*.xls" in the box. The operating system will search for any files with the .xls extension--this is the extension used by Microsoft Excel.

Step 4

Download a file recovery tool, or use one that you already have. If you have a file protection package from McAfee, Symantec or another major manufacturer, the program might include a file-recovery tool. Otherwise you can download any of a number of file-recovery tools, many of which are free.

Step 5

Open the file-recovery tool and look at the list of recoverable files. Highlight the spreadsheet file you want to recover and click the "Recover" button. Open the file to make sure it is complete, then save it to your hard drive or network share.