I'm trying to help a friend who is not terribly computer savvy. She does things like accidentally delete all text in a Word document, then save the file.

I've set up an incremental backup system that copies all her Word documents every 30 minutes, and I've also enabled the built-in backup copy feature in Word 2003, but I'm concerned about the possibility of her losing data from a file she hasn't saved.

Is there a way to backup text entered into a Word 2003 document that has not been saved? Ideally, I would like something that saved all data entered into the document.

I am trying to teach her how to save data responsibly, but I'd like to establish a safety net in case she has another disaster.


  • 5
    In my humble opinion, the only way someone learns how to save data, is to lose valuable data. Your system can only babysit to a certain point, after which the user must take some responsibility. My grandmother understood this too.
    – user3463
    Jul 30, 2010 at 17:00
  • Well said Randolph Potter +1
    – Moab
    Jul 30, 2010 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


Automatically Backup Word's AutoRecover Files

I agree that it is important to learn to save data. But computers should help to protect us from our errors. I am passionate about backup systems. One of their important purposes is to allow us to recover not just from natural disasters and malicious acts, but also from human mistakes.

You are on the right track with setting up the incremental backup of Word documents. Depending on your software and retention settings, you will be able to go back to a document as it was at any point in time. That's important if someone deletes a section, saves the document, and then needs the deleted text later.

Be sure that AutoRecover is enabled in MS Word. I recommend setting it to 5 minutes. Office Button | Word Options | Save or Word 2003 Menu | Tools | Options | Save For more on AutoRecover and recovery of lost documents, see: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/316951 and http://www.technipages.com/word-2007-enabledisable-autosave.html

Location of AutoRecover Files

Now you need to configure your backup system to backup the folder where Word stores AutoRecover (.ASD) files: C:\Users\OWNER\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\ or: C:\Documents and Settings\OWNER\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\

Let's say that the user's computer crashes after a lot of work has been done on a Word document, but the user didn't press the Save button (or Ctrl-S). When Word is opened after the crash, normally it should prompt the user to open the recovered document. You won't need to do anything special.

Recovering from an Accidental Deletion

In your scenario where the user deletes text and then saves the document. the AutoRecover copy is automatically deleted, as it should be. But it is not completely gone because your system has backed it up to another folder. The AutoRecovery document will be named: AutoRecovery save of FILENAME.asd where FILENAME is the name of the original document. You can rename the file with a .doc or .docx extension and open it normally in MS Word.

If the user has never saved a new document, Word creates an .ASD file named, for example: AutoRecovery save of Document2.asd

We use a backup system, Active Online Backup, http://www.activeonlinebackup.com, that backs up unlimited versions of all files every 5 minutes. It conserves disk space and bandwidth by using sophisticated differential technology so that it only has to back up changes at the block level. The result is you can have backups of many versions of the same file, but all the backups together take up just a little more space the largest version of the file.

Since our system backups up to secure servers offsite, we are protected not just from human errors but also from the gamut of potential disasters.

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