How to Restore Excel Files: A Comprehensive Guide

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Imagine working tirelessly on an important Excel spreadsheet, and just when you’re about to save your progress, disaster strikes! Your computer crashes, or you accidentally delete the file.

Panic sets in as you realize the hours of work could be lost forever. But fear not, because in this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods on how to restore Excel files and recover your precious data.

Excel, a powerful spreadsheet application developed by Microsoft, is widely used for tasks ranging from budget management to complex data analysis. Despite its versatility, Excel files are not immune to data loss or accidental deletions.

Method 1: Check the Recycle Bin                                  

Before diving into more complex recovery methods, start with the simplest one – checking the Recycle Bin. When you delete a file, it’s often moved to the Recycle Bin, where you can easily restore it:

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking the icon on your desktop.
  2. Locate your deleted Excel file. You can use the search bar to expedite the process.
  3. Right-click on the file, and choose “Restore” to return it to its original location.

Method 2: Use Excel’s AutoRecover Feature

Excel has a built-in AutoRecover feature that can help you retrieve unsaved or accidentally closed files. Here’s how to utilize it:

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Go to the “File” tab.
  3. Click on “Open” and select “Recent Workbooks” from the menu.
  4. Scroll down to the “Recover Unsaved Workbooks” option. Excel will open a new window containing a list of unsaved files.
  5. Locate your file in the list and double-click to open it. Save it immediately to avoid future data loss.

Method 3: Restore from Backup

Many users regularly back up their important files, including Excel spreadsheets, to prevent data loss. If you have a backup of the Excel file, you can restore it by following these steps:

  1. Identify the location of your Excel file backup. This could be an external hard drive, a cloud storage service like Dropbox or OneDrive, or another computer.
  2. Navigate to the backup location and locate the most recent copy of your Excel file.
  3. Copy the backup file to your desired location on your computer.
  4. Open the file to ensure that it’s the correct version and contains the data you need.

Method 4: Use File Recovery Software

If the above methods do not yield the desired results, it’s time to turn to specialized file recovery software. Several reputable options are available, but one of the most commonly used tools is Recuva. Follow these steps to use Recuva:

  1. Download and install Recuva from the official website.
  2. Launch Recuva and select the file type as “Documents.”
  3. Click on “Next” and choose the location where the Excel file was stored. If you’re unsure, you can select “I’m not sure” and scan the entire system.
  4. Click “Start” to begin the scanning process. Recuva will search for deleted files.
  5. Once the scan is complete, a list of recoverable files will be displayed. Locate your Excel file and click “Recover.”
  6. Choose a safe location to save the recovered file, preferably on a different drive or storage medium to prevent overwriting.

Method 5: Restore from Windows Previous Versions

Windows OS has a feature called “Previous Versions” that can help you restore older versions of files, including Excel spreadsheets. Here’s how to use this feature:

  1. Right-click on the folder where your Excel file was stored and select “Restore previous versions.”
  2. In the “Previous Versions” tab, you’ll see a list of available versions of the folder.
  3. Select the version that contains your Excel file and click “Restore.”
  4. The restored file will be saved in the same folder. Be sure to check and confirm that it’s the correct version.

Method 6: Contact Microsoft Support

If all else fails, and your Excel file is vital, consider reaching out to Microsoft Support for assistance. They may be able to guide you through more advanced recovery methods or provide additional resources to retrieve your lost data.


Losing an important Excel file can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can recover your data. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored various methods to restore Excel files, from checking the Recycle Bin to using file recovery software and contacting Microsoft Support. Remember to act swiftly when you realize you’ve lost your file, as the chances of successful recovery are often higher the sooner you take action.

Always maintain good data hygiene practices by regularly saving your work and creating backups to prevent such incidents. With the steps outlined in this guide, you can significantly increase your chances of successfully restoring your Excel files and avoiding the frustration that comes with data loss.

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