It's difficult to put into words: that sinking, helpless, frustrating, maddening feeling we get when we realise we have just closed a document without saving. Sometimes it's because we have many files open on our desktop, and think that the Save prompt was for a different document; or perhaps we were distracted while closing the file. Whatever the reason, the result is the same - our work and the time we spent creating the document have been lost. Well, not anymore! Expanding on the AutoRecover capabilities that you may know from earlier versions of Microsoft Office, Office 2010 now recovers versions of files that you close without saving.

If you have been working in a document in Microsoft Access 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Project 2010, Publisher 2010, Visio 2010, or Word 2010, and close without saving, your program automatically saves a copy for you. This new development in AutoRecover capabilities enables you to easily retrieve documents, even if you never saved the file to start with.

Obviously the AutoRecover feature is not a substitute for manually saving your work, and you should always Save As as soon as you begin to work on a new document, then remember to select Save, or Ctrl + S, at regular intervals. Regularly saving the file is the best and safest way to preserve your work. However there are times when your Microsoft Office program closes before you can save changes to a file that you are working on. For example, there may be a power surge, or your system is made unstable by another program. Sometimes something goes wrong with the Microsoft Office program itself, and we have all probably inadvertently closed a file without saving it.

The AutoRecover option can help you avoid losing work by saving your data automatically. If you enable AutoRecover, your file is automatically saved as often as you want. Therefore, if you have been working for a long time but forget to save a file or if your power goes off, the file you have been working on contains all, or at least some, of the work you have done since you last saved it.

An additional benefit to enabling AutoRecover is that some aspects of the state of the program are recovered when the program is restarted after it closed abnormally. For example, this could be if you are working on several Excel workbooks at the same time, and each file is open in a different window, with specific data visible in each window. In one of the workbooks, a cell is selected to help you keep track of which rows you already reviewed, and then Excel crashes. When you restart Excel, it opens the workbooks again and restores the windows to the way they were before Excel crashed, including keeping the information in the tracking cell.

Although not every aspect of your program's state can be recovered, the Recovery feature can frequently help you return to the previous state more quickly.

To enable and adjust AutoRecover and AutoSave, simply click the File tab. Under Help, click Options, then click Save. Now select the Save AutoRecover information every x minutes check box. In the minutes field, specify how often you want the program to save your data and the program state. You can also change the location (specified in the AutoRecover file location box) where the program automatically saves a version of files you work on.

Provided you don't close or exit an unsaved document before the specified AutoRecover time, you can be confident in the knowledge that if anything does go wrong, Office can, literally, save your day.