Improve Your Safety Net: Tweak AutoSave in Microsoft Office

life preserverComputer crash?  Power went out during a storm?  And you were in the middle of editing a budget spreadsheet and didn't get a chance to save your work?  Ugh.

Microsoft Office programs (which include Word, Excel, PowerPoint) are by default set to automatically save an open file every 10 minutes.  So when you re-open the program, your file should still have all the changes you have made — except for the last 10 minutes of work.  (Your file may retain more recent changes if you manually saved it yourself by pressing Control+S on the keyboard.)

10 minutes between autosaves not good enough for you?  Me neither.  Here's how to better protect your hard work:

Increase the frequency of autosave by reducing the time.  Here's how to do it:

  1. Open Word or Excel, and click the File tab
  2. Click the Options icon on the left side of the screen
  3. Click the Save icon on the next screen
  4. In the “Save AutoRecover information every __ minutes” area of the box, reduce the number of minutes from 10 to however often you want the program to automatically save the open file.  The smaller the number you enter, you'll never lose more than that many minutes of work.
  5. Click the OK button
You can also watch Microsoft's video that demonstrates how to adjust the time between automatic saves, as well as how to use the AutoRecover feature to open an automatically saved file.

Hat tip to Q&A: Setting AutoSave Times In Microsoft Office in the Gadgetwise blog at the New York Times
Photo credit: "Safety on the beach" by Flickr user Tamara Dunn