Story Of My Life: Prevent Losing Your Documents

Uuugh sometimes I just don’t like technology. I mean, when I don’t understand why something is happening that should NOT happen. And when not even the world wide web has an answer for this. Best example: The words in a document turn step by step into stars. This looks like this:

Bildschirmfoto 2017-04-23 um 21.26.49

A 3000-word paper turning into stars. And this only two hours before the deadline – of course. It was horrible! Could it even get worse? Yes! In this picture above you’re at least able to read something after the star cluster. When I reopened the document again, it looked like this:

Bildschirmfoto 2017-04-23 um 21.29.40

A NIGHTMARE! I don’t know if you can recognise it, but everything turned into numbers. The first page was full of “1”, the second with “2”, the third with “3” and so on. There was NOTHING left. Nothing. Word didn’t crash or anything. It just happened while I was working on the conclusion of my paper and double-checking a source online. As I got back to Word the nightmare began. I could see it happen and was not able to stop it. I was literally frozen, gaping at the screen and could not believe that this is happening to me at this very moment.

To make your nightmare with similar situations (you never know when it’s gonna happen – that’s the thing, so open your eyes and ears :D) as unfrightening as possible, I think you might be very interested in reading this.

So what to do when something like this happens?

First of all, don’t get a breakdown and keep calm. It sounds horrible but it might be not as bad as it looks like. The most important thing is: do NOT press save. I repeat: DON’T press save. Because then everything is really lost. But save this changed document as a NEW file – just in case.
By the way – pressing “undo” doesn’t help – better do nothing in that document anymore.

Once you’ve done this, close/quit Word completely and maybe also restart your computer. This is sometimes a good and helpful treatment for your tech stuff. So I recommend doing this on a regular basis, anyway.

Then open Word again and open the file of the document you’ve worked on. If you haven’t saved it before and the programme didn’t crash, then I’m afraid all of your work is lost. Otherwise, you’ll get everything back till the last time you’ve saved the document manually. So it might be worth getting used to press save after every paragraph or even after every sentence, for example.

If Word crashed while you were working on something and you reopen it, it will open an autosaved version of the document, which might have not all of the latest changes/addings in it but at least the majority of your work. Usually, the interval of the AutoRecover information is set by 10 minutes. I think, though, in 10 minutes can be written a lot of words or be made a lot of changes. Therefore, I highly recommend altering this setting to a lower amount of time. I changed it, e.g., to three minutes.

I also recommend activating the function “Always create a backup copy“, which automatically saves a second file of your document and updates it simultaneous when you press save. Especially, when you’re working on something really important, like a Bachelor or Master thesis, this could be very helpful because…you never know! Once you submitted the document you can delete this second file, so you didn’t loose anything. On the controversy, you won a sense of safety.

How To Change The AutoRecover Information…

…and set up the backup copy thing?

As always, Apple computers handle this a bit differently than Windows computers even when it’s the same programme. But, no worries, I’m – as usual – prepared for both.


Open up the programme,  go on “Word” in the taskbar, then click on “Preferences” → “Save”→ “Save options”. (under MS Office 2011 – 2015, I hope it’s similar to older versions)

Tick the first box to activate “Always create a backup copy“.

Change the number of minutes under “Save every XY minutes” from 10 to 3 (for example).

See the gallery with screenshots:


Open up the programme and click on “File” in the top left corner of the taskbar. Click on “Options” → “Save”. Here you can change the number of minutes.

Click on “Advanced” (two beneath “Save”) and scroll down until you see the headline “Save”. There you can tick the box “Always create a backup copy“.

(under MS Office 2013, I hope it’s similar to older versions)

See the gallery with screenshots:

Fortunately,  I didn’t loose all of the 3000 words in my assignment paper since I pressed “save” manually by 2500ish. Still, I had to rewrite the rest within two hours. I hope, though, that this or something similar will never ever happen again – to nobody.

If you also work with Excel or PowerPoint, you should alter the settings in those programmes as well. The procedure is the same but unfortunately, these programmes do not offer a creation of a backup copy, you can only alter the “Save every…” time interval.

Now, assuming Word works perfectly, you saved your document – maybe even with a backup copy – but then all of a sudden your computer doesn’t work anymore and you can’t access all the carefully saved documents – it all already happened either to myself, a friend or a family member and it’s also a nightmare. I am not making these things up.

The technology gets better and better every day but unfortunately, this does not mean that your 4/7/1-year-old computer or the flash drive in your computer can not malfunction from one day to the other. Exactly this happened to me earlier this year when I was sending out applications and just brushed over my CV (you know how much work this is to even make a CV). In the morning my laptop was working as usual and when I wanted to use it again in the evening it didn’t start anymore. And with that, I had no access to none of my documents.

After I fixed the problem a week later, everything was fine. It could’ve turned out the other way, though. This is why I also started using cloud storages more regulary, which you can access from every computer via the internet.

Use Cloud Storages And Services

Services like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive or media centres from email providers give you the chance and enough free online storage where you can upload and save your documents. When you’ve done this, they are safe until you decide to delete them and accessible from every computer/ smartphone/ tablet with an internet connection.

You also can upload documents into an email and just save it as a draft. This has basically the same effect but will only work with files that are not big, like Word documents. Some PowerPoint presentations, for example, when they include pictures of good quality and videos, easily increase the size to over 20MB – too big for an email.

Or you go a step further. Some of my friends, for instance, don’t even use programmes like Word anymore – they use services like Google Docs. When you have a google email account (free to use) you can make use of this service, which basically includes all Microsoft Office programmes but from Google. It is an online service only, which means that you need internet access to use it and it doesn’t have as many functions as Word. The big advantage is, though, that it saves your work very very frequently that nothing can get lost. Whenever you want, you can download the file onto your computer to make it available offline.

Or be a bit more old-school and save the document(s) on a flash drive or two or three…because you never know 😉

If you have other ideas, thoughts or even similar experiences about this topic, leave a comment. I’m looking forward to read them!


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