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When working with Word, the Save AutoRecover isn't saving as it should

Posted on 2008-10-16
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-10-20
I have a user that has been very upset since she can't seem to remember to save on her own.  The auto save function on Word doesn't seem to be saving her document at the every 5 minutes we have it set at.  This user had a power issue at her station, fixed with a battery backup unit, that would randomly shut her computer down.  She would lose whatever she was working on.  I am still trying to get t his function to work correctly with luck.  

I have read that some of the application have an issue with Adobe Acrobat, which I have removed.  I have also made changes, then performed a shift+file save to all the setting changes I've made.  Still no luck.  Any help or nudging in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.
Question by:macinapple
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Expert Comment

ID: 22740016
Autorecover is a largely misunderstood feature. It doesn't actually save the document, just prepares in such a way that the document 'could' be recovered.

Have a look at #3 of this article for some more detailed information that might help you convince your user to save:

Author Comment

ID: 22740660
I have already followed the steps suggested in you link, however, I was under the impression that Word would automatically create a saved backup at the rate set in the Save options.  Then, if your computer crashed for any reason it would automatically restore your backup as the original.  So if my user loses power, they will have to Force Word to recover the file, or attempt an AutoRecovery?

At least that is what I'm getting from this. . . http://support.microsoft.com/kb/827099#
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Accepted Solution

dopyiii earned 500 total points
ID: 22745514
Well, this is an autorecover feature, not an autosave feature. The document itself isn't saved on the schedule. Instead, Word saves the work that you've created since your last save, but the changes aren't rolled into the actual document until a "real" save is done by the user.

The mechanism they have in place _should_ recover work in the situation you describe. However, timings are important. When you save, the autorecover timer restarts. So, five minutes (if that's what the autorecover setting is set to) after a save,  an .asd file will be (read: supposed to be) created. If Word crashes without a save after that time, then Word should see the .asd file and try to open it and associate it with the actual Word document file using pointers in various places (like the "owner" file - the hidden ~$xxxx.doc file you see in the document location when a document is open). All of the above, combined with the right alignment of planets equals a recovered file.

Also, this all plays into how Word uses temp files and how documents are created. When you "open" a file, Word loads it into memory and actively works on it. Over time (like when you use the clipboard, make substantial changes in the document, save it, or just leave it open for a while), then Word starts saving out the working files into temp files (the ~wrl... files you see). You can think of this as document paging, like what an OS will do with a page file. Now, when you save, the "working" temp files are at that time rolled into the final "main" document (the xxx.doc file that we think of as a Word document). But, those other files stay open until Word saves, closes and unloads the document from memory.

The reason why this is so important to understand is because if Word does shut down abnormally, these working files very well may be lost either because the actual handles or file pointers are not closed (buffers aren't flushed, etc.; and that means that data may not be physically put in the file), or the files themselves are disassociated or removed by Word when it opens up next. Given the complexity of the saving mechanism, procedures and document format (200+ pages of it), it's surprising that Word works at all.

Long story short: there is absolutely no substitute for not manually saving and keeping a backup. If you really need some kind of automated solution, you can have a look at a macro like this:

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