How to Recover a Deleted Excel File on Windows

Robert Agar
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Many companies and individuals keep valuable information in Excel spreadsheets. Suddenly realizing you have deleted or lost an important Excel file when it’s needed for a meeting can pose a huge problem. Don’t worry. We are going to show you multiple ways to recover deleted Excel files on a Windows computer.

How to Recover a Deleted Excel Document on Windows

Before embarking on a data recovery adventure, make sure you didn’t just save the Excel file to a different location and now simply can’t find it. You might consider searching your computer for the file to see if it’s just misplaced. Once you have determined the file is really gone, you can try these methods to get it back.

Method 1: Restore a deleted Excel file from the Recycle Bin

The first place to look for your deleted file is the Windows Recycle Bin. Here’s how to do it.

Recover Excel files from Recycle Bin

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by clicking on its icon.
  2. Select the files you want to recover from the list of available items.
  3. Right-click on your selection and choose Restore.
  4. Files will be recovered to their original locations. You can also drag files out of the Recycle Bin to another folder or the desktop.

Method 2: Use the Windows undo function

Here’s another simple method that can restore a deleted Excel file. Using the key combination of Ctrl-Z undoes the last command entered on a Windows computer. If you enter this command immediately after deleting your file, the operating system will undo the deletion and make the file available again. You can’t hurt anything by trying this method and it may save you a bunch of time if it works, so give it a shot.

Method 3: Search for autosaved or temporary files

It’s very possible that you have not deleted the file, but simply forgot to or were unable to save it. Maybe your system crashed before you had a chance to hit the save button. There are two locations on a Windows computer that you can check that may contain the file you were unable to save.

Autosaved files

If Excel’s AutoRecover function is active, your lost files may be in the folder where AutoRecovered files are stored. To display the name of this folder, use the following procedure.

Excel autorecover function settings

  1. In Excel, click on File and then Options.
  2. Click on Save in the left-side menu to display how your Excel workbooks are being saved.
  3. The AutoRecover file location is where AutoRecovered files are saved. If AutoRecover is enabled, you can go to this folder and search for your lost file. It may have been generically renamed, so be sure to check all the files for the one you want.

Temporary files

Excel file in temporary folder

  1. Open the Start menu and type %temp% in the Search field.
  2. Press Enter to open the folder and view its contents.
  3. Search for .xls or .xlsx files. The files may have generic filenames and will have to be opened to see if they are what you need.

Method 4: Try reverting to a previous version of your Excel file

Windows 10 users can try restoring a previous version of a file from a system restore point. Follow these steps to give it a try.

Recover previous version of excel file

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Go to the file or folder which you would like to restore to a previous version.
  3. Right-click on the item and select Previous Versions from the context menu.
  4. Select the version you would like to restore in the File versions list.
  5. Click Open to review the file’s contents.
  6. Click the Restore button to recover the file to its original location. You will be prompted to allow the file write to complete.

Method 5: Restore from a backup

Restore excel file from file history

If you are in the habit of backing up your computer, you may be able to recover the lost file from your backup media. Depending on the version of Windows you are running, you will either use File History (Windows 10) or Backup and Restore (earlier versions than Windows 10). Both tools offer intuitive help to guide you through the recovery process. Of course, you need to have made a backup of the files in question to use this recovery method.

Method 6: Use Disk Drill data recovery software

If the previous methods have failed to get back your deleted Excel file, it’s time to try a data recovery with Disk Drill. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Windows. As mentioned previously, don’t perform the download and install on the device with the last file so you don’t inadvertently overwrite the data you want to preserve.
  2. Connect an external storage device if necessary and launch Disk Drill. Select the disk or partition with the lost file.
  3. Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning for deleted data.
    Search the drives for excel files
  4. Preview the files that Disk Drill finds and select the Excel files you want to restore.Preview excel files
  5. Click the Recover button and choose a new location for the recovered files that is not on the same device that lost the data in the first place.Recover deleted excel files

Conclusion

There you have it. You now have several methods with which to recover a deleted Excel file on a Windows computer. Disk Drill data recovery software will often work when other methods fail, and a free download lets you identify the files that can be recovered.

Since Excel files often contain valuable information, we suggest that you get in the habit of backing them up regularly. It’s always a good idea to take a backup of your data. You never know when you’ll need it.

FAQ:

Recovering a deleted Excel file in Office 2007 can be done in a variety of ways.
  • Use Excel’s AutoRecover feature;
  • Use the Windows Recycle Bin or Mac’s Trash;
  • Recover from a backup;
  • Undelete the file with CTRL-Z or Command-Z;
  • Restore the Excel files with Disk Drill data recovery software.
Use these steps to recover a deleted Excel file from a flash drive.
  1. Download and Install Disk Drill for your OS platform.
  2. Connect the flash drive to your machine.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and choose the flash drive from the disk list.
  4. Scan the flash drive for lost data.
  5. Preview and select the files you want to recover.
  6. Perform the file recovery.
You have several options to attempt an Excel file recovery without software. They are:
  • Use the Trash or Recycle Bin;
  • Use the Windows CTRL-Z or Mac Command-Z command:
  • Use Excel’s AutoRecover feature;
  • Recover from a previously made backup.
Follow these steps to recover an Excel file in OneDrive:
  1. Log in to your OneDrive account.
  2. Select the Recycle Bin from the OneDrive navigation pane.
  3. Point to the Excel files you would like to recover and click the circle checkbox to select them.
  4. Click Restore.
Here are the steps needed to protect an Excel file, making it impossible to delete the item without providing the password.
  1. Open the Excel workbook and select the Review menu.
  2. Click on Protect Workbook.
  3. In the Protect Structure and Window dialog box that appears, enter the password you want to use and make sure that the Structure checkbox is selected.
  4. Reenter the password and click OK.
Robert Agar
Freelance Writer at Self-employed specializing in technology-related subjects. Extensive experience in IT with a focus on backup and recovery, disaster recovery, cloud computing, databases, and data management.
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Senior Data Recovery Engineer. Master's degree in Physics, Information Technology for Science Experiments