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Last Document Saves Not Saved

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: Last Document Saves Not Saved.

David has a colleague that complained of a recurring problem with Word. His colleague habitually saves his documents every few minutes. A few moments ago, he had a system crash requiring a reboot. The file that was returned to him when he re-opened Word was the one he opened at the beginning of the day, some two hours earlier. This, despite having clicked on the save button about a dozen times during the morning. This is only a problem when there is a system crash. In normal working situations, he can open the last saved file with no issues. David wonders if there are any recommendations on how to avoid this problem.

Quite honestly, David, your friend is doing what should be done—saving regularly—so there is probably not much else that he can do. This doesn't explain why the problem is happening, however. There are three options you may want to have your colleague explore.

First of all, it is possible that your friend's document is somehow corrupted. This is, in all likelihood, the least probable cause, but it is something to consider. (I've seen corrupted documents do some pretty strange things.) It wouldn't hurt for your colleague to copy the document text to a new document and save it under a new name.

The second possibility is that your colleague's system has been configured to the point that the Save command doesn't really do what one would think it does. For instance, if your colleague works in a company where versions of documents need to be saved, then perhaps the Save command has been modified to accommodate that need. It is a good idea to check to see if there are any macros at play that may have changed the functioning of the Save command.

Finally, it is possible that there is something "beyond Word" at play on your friend's system. For instance, there could be some file system add-on that is caching information that would normally be written to the disk right away. This occurs routinely in systems that rely on encrypted drives or that use solid-state drives. It is less likely, but still possible, when it comes to network drives. Your colleague's system could be caching the data within his system—somewhere in memory—and when his system crashes, the "somewhere in memory" goes away without the file having been permanently written to disk. The solution to this problem is to check for any caches and modify their behavior so that they write to disk more often.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8872) 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: Last Document Saves Not Saved.

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