Location of Microsoft Excel recovery files

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Microsft Excel can automatically save updates to spreadsheets. If Excel, or the system, crashes, when you reopen Excel you will see a Document Recovery pane on the left side of the Excel window with the message "Excel has recovered the following files. Save the ones you wish to keep."

Excel Document Recovery - Collectorz

Some of the documents listed may have been saved by the user without any subsequent changes being made and will have "Version created last time the user saved the file" beneath the file name as shown above. Note: if you can't see the entire message, move the mouse pointer to the right edge of the recovery pane where it butts against the numbered rows of an open spreadsheet, as shown by the red arrow below, which should change the mouse pointer to a double-headed arrow and allow you to pull the edge of the recovery pane to the right so that you can see all of the text in the recovery pane.

Excel Document Recovery stretch pane

For those files that were saved by the user, you can just click on them to reopen them and then close them, which will remove the file from the document recovery pane.

Where does Excel store the recovery files? You can see the location in the Office 365 version of Excel by clicking on File and then More and choosing Options. Then select Save from the Options window. To the right of "AutoRecover file location, you will see the location where Excel creates the autorecover files. You will also see the frequency with which Excel automatically saves open files on this window. By default Excel will store the automatically saved files at C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\, where username is the account name for the logged on user, but you can change the location on this window, if you wish.

Excel autorecover location

Note: the directory path C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\ corresponds to the environment variable %appdata%, so you can substitute that variable name when issuing a command referencing that directory path at a command prompt or put it in the address bar of the Windows File Explorer.

C:\Users\Tork>echo %appdata%
C:\Users\Tork\AppData\Roaming

C:\Users\Tork>dir %appdata%\Microsoft\Excel
 Volume in drive C is Local Disk
 Volume Serial Number is AEB0-91D8

 Directory of C:\Users\Tork\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel

03/20/2024  12:59 PM    <DIR>          .
03/15/2024  08:13 PM            23,146 2024 To-Do List (version 1).xlsb
03/03/2024  11:51 PM             8,372 Book3 (version 1).xlsb
03/15/2024  08:47 PM    <DIR>          Daily%20Activities310925301458756064
03/20/2024  10:52 AM    <DIR>          Daily%20Activities310953100866859392
03/15/2024  08:13 PM           138,909 Goals (version 1).xlsb
03/15/2024  08:13 PM    <DIR>          Goals310921681858478314
03/03/2024  11:38 PM            10,938 invoice_24001 (version 1).xlsb
03/20/2024  12:58 PM    <DIR>          XLSTART
               4 File(s)        181,365 bytes
               5 Dir(s)  924,135,518,208 bytes free

C:\Users\Tork>

In the file list above, the Collectorz_Book_Updates.xlsx [Original] and Articles.xlsx [Original] spreadsheets do not appear as they were saved by the user with no subsequent updates to them before the system lost power, so I can just open and close them to remove them from being listed in the recovery pane. They were in the pane because they were still open in Excel when the system lost power.

For some files listed in the recovery pane, you may see multiple entries. E.g., in the example below, there is a Goals.xlsx [Original] which is a document that was saved on March 9 by the user. There is also a Goals (version 1).xlsb which is a version created by Excel when it performed an automatic save to create a recovery file for changes made by the user after the document was saved by the user on March 9.

Excel Document Recovery - Goals

If I look in Excel's document recovery directory, I see the following:

C:\Users\Tork>dir %appdata%\Microsoft\Excel
 Volume in drive C is Local Disk
 Volume Serial Number is AEB0-91D8

 Directory of C:\Users\Tork\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel

03/18/2024  09:16 PM    <DIR>          .
03/15/2024  08:13 PM            23,146 2024 To-Do List (version 1).xlsb
03/03/2024  11:51 PM             8,372 Book3 (version 1).xlsb
03/15/2024  08:47 PM    <DIR>          Daily%20Activities310925301458756064
03/15/2024  08:13 PM           138,909 Goals (version 1).xlsb
03/15/2024  08:13 PM    <DIR>          Goals310921681858478314
02/27/2024  09:22 PM           110,653 GVP_Volcano_List_Holocene (version 1).xlsb
03/03/2024  11:38 PM            10,938 invoice_24001 (version 1).xlsb
               5 File(s)        292,018 bytes
               3 Dir(s)  924,035,649,536 bytes free

C:\Users\Tork>dir %appdata%\Microsoft\Excel\Goals310921681858478314
 Volume in drive C is Local Disk
 Volume Serial Number is AEB0-91D8

 Directory of C:\Users\Tork\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\Goals310921681858478314

03/15/2024  08:13 PM    <DIR>          .
03/20/2024  08:58 PM    <DIR>          ..
03/15/2024  02:58 PM           138,908 Goals((Autorecovered-310945051069723807)).xlsb
03/15/2024  03:21 PM           138,910 Goals((Autorecovered-310945081880042328)).xlsb
03/15/2024  04:09 PM           138,908 Goals((Autorecovered-310945150395694437)).xlsb
03/15/2024  07:36 PM           138,911 Goals((Autorecovered-310945440432498232)).xlsb
03/15/2024  08:13 PM           138,909 Goals((Autorecovered-310945491307331324)).xlsb
03/03/2024  08:18 PM             1,695 Goals.xlsx.lnk
               6 File(s)        696,241 bytes
               2 Dir(s)  925,599,178,752 bytes free

C:\Users\Tork>

I can see that Goals (version 1).xlsb [AutoRecovered] was last updated on March 15, six days later than the save of the file by the user. I can open it and choose "save as" and overwrite the Goals.xlsk file at the original location with the autosaved file.

Related:

  1. Changing the AutoRecover frequency for Microsoft Excel 2007
    Date: March 1, 2021