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Excel and Autorecover not working – a fix

Microsoft Excel (Windows)
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Excel is undoubtedly a key tool for the financial modeller.  Part of my job is financial modelling so I spend most of my days with Excel open at least in the background and rather than having to rely on myself to save files in the event of a computer meltdown, I rely on Excel’s Autorecover feature.

This has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.  Frequently Excel has crashed under the strain of my underpowered Dell and I’ve looked in my saved dropbox directory for the latest saved version only to find that it is more than six hours ago….a day wasted..or perhaps not.

The first port of call, open excel and hope for a recent autorecover with no repairs.  In 95% of cases this usually occurs and you can get away with losing at most an hour of work – anoying but less so than losing six hours.

Anyway, today was the first time in memory (where I’ve had autorecover enabled – I sometimes turn it off but more on that in a later post) where I opened a fresh instance of excel after a crash….no autorecover file.  After a couple of expletives I  checked my autorecover settings and indeed excel should have opened a recovery file.  It did not.  There was a file there indicative of an autorecover that had saved about 15 minutes before the crash so why was Excel doing nothing?

Now what.  Google help, as I last saved the file 3 hours ago!

Google was no help.  It provided me with a couple of links to Microsofts support site (or useless confusion site I as I prefer to refer to it as) explaining what autorecover was but no tangible support on what to do when it didn’t work.  What I did managed to ascertain was that Excel uses .xar files for autorecover.  So I navigated to the appropriate directory and tried to open the .xar file.  The usual ‘Which program would you like to use’ dialogue box opened up – generally meaning the computer has no idea what to do with the file.  I therefore cancelled the option and fretted for a couple of minutes.

Then I tried going into excel and opening said .xar file from the menu selecting the ‘All Files’ option and choosing the apparently created autorecover file.  Hallelujah – it worked – document opened with only a couple of minutes work lost.

Was definately worth checking if I could use that apparently unactionable .xar file.

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