blog thumbnail for post about excel autorecover XAR file

Excel Didn't AutoSave!

I get back to my desk the other day and my computer is on a green screen with “installing updates… 45%” or whatever (yes, I’m a PC user).  No big deal, everything auto-saves, right!?


An hour later I open the spreadsheet I had worked in for several hours and all my work was GONE… I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Finally “1 document found in AutoRecover”, I think “whew, maybe we’re ok”… clicked it, it too had none of my work from that day.


I haven’t had this kind of problem since… oh 1999!? So literally almost 20 YEARS!


I check the folder Excel has set to store the AutoRecover files (AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\) and there’s just 1 file; an XLB that does nothing when opened.


Locate a Support Chat on the Microsoft website, finally get connected after several tries. Tell him everything, he takes remote control and goes “Here’s your file. It’s right here”. Okay Mr. Smarty Pants, you didn’t read anything I wrote.  “See the timestamp?  It’s from 30 hours ago.  I worked in it all day today.”

He goes into my Control Panel and checks and unchecks a few boxes in File Explorer Options.  Back in the Excel AutoRecover folder,  all these new, previously hidden files show up!  I’m thinking “YES! These all popped up in the right folder, they’ve gotta be the AutoRecover files!”.


He does a few more things then says “I’m sorry, I’m not sure why your file didn’t AutoSave. I cannot help you.  Have a good night”.  I jump in the chat “Wait!  What about all those files that appeared!?!?”.

Screen shot of Excel AutoRecover files saved as XAR files

He says “Those are all XAR files, not AutoRecover files. I don’t know what they’re from or why they’re there.” But he proceeds to click one anyway and BAM! There’s my missing work!  I say “well, I guess we’re learning together!” which totally insulted his ego I’m sure. He says “those are graphic design files, I’m not sure why they saved that way.  Is there anything else I can help you with today?”.  I tell him “no, but please spread the word to your colleagues at Microsoft! I couldn’t find anything online about this problem and I can’t be the only one”.


So, in case I’m not the only one…

Excel AutoRecover Files are now XAR files apparently, and Microsoft Office Support doesn't even know yet!

The End.

FYI on Microsoft Office Version: I’m using the “Free 30 Day Trial” of Office 365 right now, but Excel 2016 was already on this new laptop, just with no license.

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