How to Easily Recover Adobe Illustrator Files

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Recover Adobe Illustrator fileAdobe Illustrator is favored for its ease of use when creating professional graphics, drawings, and logos. The one common complaint is that users frequently have to recover illustrator files when the app or computer system crashes. There are also times when the user accidentally closed adobe illustrator without saving the files.

Before panicking and assuming your files have gone to the ‘graveyard of unrecoverable lost files, it’s worth learning some of the simplest ways to recover unsaved illustrator files.

Common Reasons for Illustrator Data Loss

It’s frustrating, but we are only human. Sometimes we forget to save our illustrator files, or the battery dies. If you have a power outage, your desktop will turn off, and there is no warning to save your illustrator work.

Adobe Illustrator is rather complex, which is one of the main reasons for its tendency to crash. It is possible that the fonts are corrupted and cause a crash. If you experience network issues while saving or opening a file, you may also encounter data loss.

Third-party plugins enable you to achieve more with Illustrator; however, they can also impact the software as a whole. Another common problem is trying to run an older version of Adobe Illustrator. Before we go into how to recover Illustrator files, make sure you have the latest version installed and your operating system is updated.

4 Methods to Recover Illustrator Files

In some cases, one solution will be enough. If you are not sure of the reason behind Illustrator crashing or freezing, you may need to try more than one method. Before giving up all hope, you can try these various options for Illustrator file recovery. As well as the how, we will look at where to find recovered Illustrator files.

Method 1: Adobe Illustrator Autosave

If you have used other productivity apps or software, you will know how useful it is to activate autosave. You may not be able to start from exactly where you left off, but you will be able to open the last auto-saved version of your work. On the downside, autosave Illustrator can cause the program to run slower or even crash. That being said, it is still worth using this feature.

To turn on the Illustrator autosave you need to take the following steps:

  1. Go to Preferences, then File Handling & Clipboard.
  2. Open Data Recovery/Crash Recovery.
  3. Tick the box “Automatically Save Recovery Data Every”
  4. Choose the number of minutes that you want to autosave your work.
  5. You can also select the illustrator autosave location where you want your backup files to be stored.

turn on autosave in adobe illustrator

It’s important to choose an autosave time that suits your work. If you choose short intervals, you can recover more data, but you may also have more frequent interruptions, and vice versa. You can also select the box Turn off Data Recovery for complex documents. You avoid the risk of disruption, Illustrator running slowly and autosave, causing a crash, but it’s a personal choice.

Method 2: Illustrator Backup

Make sure that the Automatic Data Recovery time limit suits your desired workflow and uncheck the “Turn off Data Recovery for complex documents”.

Edit > Preferences > General > File Handling and Clipboard > Uncheck Turn off Data Recovery for complex files.

Turn off Data Recovery for complex files

Note: Uncheking this option may lead to slowdown of Adobe Illustrator but give you additional recovery chances.

Method 3: Relaunching Adobe Illustrator

If you prefer not to search for your Illustrator recovered files on your hard disk, you can relaunch Adobe Illustrator after it has crashed. As soon as you relaunch the program, a window will appear telling you that Adobe Illustrator quit unexpectedly. Click Ok, the window will close, and your file will reopen. Don’t forget at this point to save the reopened file under a new name by going to File and Save As. Relaunching will also recover unsaved Illustrator files.

Relaunching Adobe Illustrator

Method 4: Data Recovery Software

Disk Drill Data Recovery is a complete file recovery software that you can use to restore deleted Adobe Illustrator files. The app features an intuitive user interface that simplifies the recovery process and enables the file recovery to be completed efficiently with just a few clicks.

For retrieving Adobe Illustrator lost files using Disk Drill you need to follow the below steps.

  1. Download Disk Drill and install it on your computer.install disk drill
  2. Launch it.
  3. Disk Drill will list all available drives in your system; you will need to select the one with the lost data.
  4. Click the Search for lost data button. It can be found next to the storage device where the deleted or lost Adobe Illustrator files were previously located.Search for lost data button
  5. Wait for the scan to complete, it might take a few minutes, it depends on the size of your target drive.
  6. Once the scanning is complete, Disk Drill will present you with a list of recoverable files. All you need to do is select which files you want to recover and start the recovery process.preview and finally recover illustrator files

Disk Drill has a free version that comes with a host of other advantages such as data backup, data protection, cleanup of hard drives, duplicate finder and disk monitoring to ensure your disk remains healthy. All of these tools are free and also easy for everyone to use.

Disk Drill is available for Mac and Windows and can scan different locations for over 400 file formats.

Where Does Illustrator Save Recovered Files?

If you don’t choose a location for your backup files, they will go to a default location, which can be horrendous to find! You can search in <your username>/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings/en_US/Adobe Illustrator Prefs/DataRecovery. From Windows, instead of Library and Preferences, look in App Data and Roaming. The other folders have the same name.

Adobe Illustrator Data Recovery Folder

Life is generally much easier if you create a new folder for recovered Illustrator files and choose this folder in your preferences, as we mentioned in autosave and backup.

What Do I Do If I Accidentally Saved Over Illustrator Files?

If you have accidentally saved over an Illustrator file and want to recover a previous version, this is also possible. If you are using Mac, you need to start by launching Time Machine. After it has opened, click on File and the Revert To. Here you will see an option to Browse All Versions. The top of the list will be the last modified file; just scroll down to the version you wish to revert to.

restore illustrator file with time machine

For Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, you can restore accidentally saved over Illustrator files from the Start Screen and File History. For newer versions of Windows, click on File and Revert to.

restore previous version


From personal experience, when you lose your work in Adobe Illustrator, the wave of fear can lead you to click on all sorts of buttons without thinking straight, even stroking and talking to your computer in the hope that your work will reappear with some TLC. It’s either going to do nothing or make matters worse.

Illustrator autosave and backup are the quickest and often most convenient way to recover Illustrator files. Bear in mind that you need to set both of these up so that your work is saved at ideal intervals for your type of work and that the backup version is saved in your preferred location so that you aren’t left wondering where to find recovered illustrator files. Always try to relaunch Illustrator, and if you are tech-savvy, you can run diagnostics to understand exactly what is causing the crash.

If you would rather have a more complete solution that not only recovers unsaved illustrator files and accidentally deleted files but also focuses on the general health of your hard disk, data recovery software works incredibly well. Disk Drill is free for Mac and Windows, so you will gain from exploring what it has to offer.

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Roxana has been writing about the technical subjects that interest her for over 10 years. She is a copywriter with a passion for technical content.
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Strong knowledge in data recovery, computer forensic and data litigation. 12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.