Accidentally Replaced MS Word Document

Dear Computer Lady,

I feel so embarrassed but I did something so stupid last night. I opened a document in Word, and when I went to save it to a document, Recipes – Cakes, I realized that this was a pie recipe and I didn’t have a pie document. I proceeded to change the name of the document in the dialog box. Word asked me if I wanted to create a new doc or replace this one. Not thinking, I said to replace it. Now all of my existing recipes in the cake doc are gone, replaced by the new doc with a one-page incomplete pie recipe! Grrr! I tried Control-Z but that didn’t work. I can’t even look in my trash can since that disappeared from my Desktop a few weeks ago.

I backup using Dell DataSafe but don’t think I can pluck one file from my restore files. Will System Restore help? Is there any hope for getting my Recipes- Cakes doc back?


Dear Connie,

Your question is actually one that I hear variations of quite often.

The problem is, you replaced the contents of a Word Document with the new document you were creating. Since you never really deleted the file, it does not show up in the recycle bin, and you are really stuck with no way to retrieve the previous contents of the file.

Your Dell backup might help, but I can’t give you directions because I am not using Dell DataSafe. It depends on how the backup is set up, if you can go in and select a single file, and hopefully you haven’t backed up again since you replaced the contents of your file.

System Restore will not help. It is made to restore your operating system files without making changes to your documents. This is to protect your documents if you need to restore your OS to an earlier time.

This is actually a situation where the online backup programs, Carbonite and Mozy would work perfectly. Both of those programs store previous versions of your files for 30 days, so you could go back to a date where you knew your file was still good and get a copy.


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    • sj_kac
    • May 27, 2012

    If she is using Windows 7, there is a feature “Previous Version”. I have never used this feature but from what I have read on other sites it seems like it might help Connie recover her previous version of the file?

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    • ron007
    • May 4, 2013

    Windows 8 has the “File History” feature that may save you.

    There is also a tiny chance from within Word itself. There is an Option to create a .BAK “backup” copy of the file when you open the file. So like for a copy of the filename with suffix .BAK instead of .DOC or .DOCX.

    You can use the Windows File Search tool found in the upper right corner of Windows Explorer. Personally, I prefer using a tool called “Everything” from Void tools that I feel does a better job of file name searches.
    True “instant” file name search. No indexing required. MUCH faster than Win Search. I use it dozens of times a day. They have a “Portable” version that does not have to be “installed”

    Uses same fast technique as Everything. I still prefer Everything because it includes built in shortcut key setup.

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