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Saving Documents Faster

Word supports a unique method of saving your document. This method is referred to as fast saving, and can cut the time necessary to save your file to disk. This is especially true if you are working with very large files—for instance, ones that contain a lot of graphic images. Fast saving results in your file being saved normally the first time it is put on the disk, and then subsequent saves simply append your changes to the end of the original file. Every so often, Word rewrites the whole file to start with a clean copy.

To enable fast saving, follow these steps if you are using a version of Word prior to Word 2007 (fast saving is not available in Word 2007):

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. You will see the Options dialog box.
  2. Click on the Save tab. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Allow Fast Saves check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

Fast saving sounds great, right? Not so fast—there is a downside. Long-time users of Word will tell you that there are, in fact, many reasons not to use Word's FastSave feature.

  • Other word processors may not be able to open Word documents saved with the FastSave feature enabled. For instance, WordPerfect says it can open Word documents, yet some versions of WordPerfect cannot open FastSaved Word documents.
  • Third-party software designed to work with Word documents (such as some grammar checkers, document management programs, and desktop publishing software) will not work correctly with FastSaved Word documents.
  • Find File (either in Word or in Windows) may not work correctly with FastSaved Word documents.
  • FastSave results in more complex files being saved on disk. Any time you increase complexity, you run the risk of corrupting the files easier.
  • FastSaved files take up more disk space.

The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. In short, unless you have a specific need to use FastSave (such as if you are only creating simple documents using Word on a slow machine), it is probably a good idea to make sure it is turned off.

As a side note, there are several circumstances under which a FastSave is not done by Word, even if you have enabled the feature. These circumstances include the following:

  • When you save a document for the first time. (This makes sense, right?) This includes when you choose Save As to save under a new name or in a new location.
  • When your document is saved on a network server or remote drive. (Word only performs a FastSave to a local drive.)
  • When Word reaches the limit of how much information it can save using the FastSave option. In this case Word does a normal save, and then again starts using FastSave for future saves.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1889) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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