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Understanding Background Saving

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Understanding Background Saving.

You already know that it is important to periodically save your documents. This helps protect your work in case of catastrophic power failure or inadvertent massive edits (such as those imposed by an errant macro). When your document is small, saving to disk can be done very quickly. As your document grows, or as you start saving your document to storage devices that aren't that speedy, saving can take quite a bit longer to do.

To overcome the delay normally associated with saving a document, Word uses what is known as "background saving." This simply means that Word allows you to continue working as it actually writes your document to disk. The benefit is that you can keep right on working as Word does its housekeeping. You can tell when a background save is taking place because an animated disk appears on the status bar. When the disk disappears, the save is complete.

You can control whether the program utilizes background saving in the following manner:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Save tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. If the Allow Background Saves check box is selected, Word will use the background saving feature.
  5. Click on OK to dismiss the Options dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (599) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Understanding Background Saving.

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Comments for this tip:

M    03 Oct 2014, 22:35
Where do the background saves go to?
Andrea    08 Jan 2014, 04:30
I agree with Rocky. On large documents it took me minutes (not seconds) to save documents, until I disabled the background save feature.
Rocky    26 Apr 2013, 20:14
Thanks for the post! Although I love the idea of background saves, the function is tough to leave on in Word 2013 if you work in large or complex documents. Once you start adding section breaks, images, tables, tracked changes, or just about any element beyond basic, unformatted text, the save time (and autosave time) becomes pretty tough to take (easily 15 seconds per save with very limited scrolling ability while the save is in progress, both of which are strange as Word 2010 did not seem to have such difficulty). In a recent Microsoft Community thread it was suggested to turn this function off, and the save time drops substantially (from about 10 to 20 seconds to about 1 second) for some reason. It seems counterintuitive to me but in any case disabling the function works. I'm a compulsive saver so I find myself hitting Ctrl + S almost unconsciously every few minutes. I recommend getting into that habit, especially if you are like me and are exploring the idea of disabling this in Word 2013.

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