How do I Recover an Overwritten Excel File?

Updated March 23, 2017

Excel is a spreadsheet program distributed by Windows for Macs and PCs. It is used for budgets, financial documents, charts and timetables. Overwriting happens when new data is saved over an old file. This commonly happens if the program or your computer crashes while a document is open. The new information is saved automatically and retrieved when you reboot, but without the ability to undo or go back to old information. This situation can be remedied by recovering the overwritten document.

Locate the document that overwrote the old one you want to retrieve. Right-click the file name, then select "Rename." A box will pop up with the file name. Add the word "new" or today's date to make it easier to tell it apart from the file you want to recover. Once you've edited the name, click "OK" or "Continue."

Download XLS Regenerator (see "Resources"). This program is made specifically to recover Excel files. Start with the free trial by clicking "Free trial" on the main page, then following the instructions to download for your operating system. Once it's downloaded, double-click on the icon to install.

Run the program XLS Regenerator by double-clicking on the icon once it's installed. When the main screen pops up, select "Recover files," then "Recover overwritten files." The program will now ask for information on the file to be recovered. If you remember the date it was last open, select the date. Then type in whatever you remember from the file name. Click "Start."

Wait for the program to search your computer for overwritten files. Usually this is in the form of an automatic save--often a hidden file--made before the first overwrite. When it finishes searching, look at the list for the document or documents you want to retrieve. Select all of the documents you want (avoiding the newly named file from step 1) and click "Retrieve" in the lower right corner.

Move the retrieved files to a new folder once they've finished. Open each file to see if it has the correct information you need. If not, repeat steps 3 and 4 with different search parameters until you locate the overwritten documents.


Backup and save your data often to avoid losing files.

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