Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Specifying a Location To Save Automatic Backup Files.

Specifying a Location To Save Automatic Backup Files

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 31, 2015)

12

Word allows you to always create a backup copy of documents if you follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll down to the Save section and make sure the Always Create Backup Copy check box is selected.
  4. Optionally, also select the Allow Background Saves check box.
  5. Click on OK to save the changes.

This backup copy is nothing more than a copy of the file you opened, before you start editing it, renamed with a WBK extension. Since Word only does a rename to create the backup file, it is not possible to specify a different location for that file—both the document and its backup are stored in the same directory. When you again save the document, the existing WBK file is deleted, the existing document file is renamed to WBK, and the document is saved again. The result is that no matter how many times you save, there will only be two files, and they will always be in the same directory.

There is another type of automatic backup referred to as AutoRecover. You define an interval, say every 5 minutes, and Word saves the document for you at that interval. The interval you chose is a trade off between the momentary inconvenience when the file is locked while the backup is written to disk. Years ago, when hard drives were small and slow and network connections were slow too, the pause while writing the backup file was quite noticeable. As a result people tended to chose longer backup intervals. These days, the time it takes to make the backup is almost imperceptible. This type of backup generates a separate file that can be saved in a separate location.

Automatic timed backups are intended to help if you forget to manually save the file and Word or Windows crashes. Timed backups minimize the amount of data you lose due to the crash. Next time you start Word it will display a list of "Recovered" files. Word offers you the choice of versions to recover from. You can set AutoRecover backup as follows:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Save at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Select the Save AutoRecover Information check box.
  4. Set a time interval; every 5 to 10 minutes is typical.
  5. If you are using Word 2010 or Word 2013 make sure the Keep the Last Auto Recovered File If I Close Without Saving check box is selected.
  6. Optionally, change the default location that Word has already defined to store the AutoRecover files.
  7. Click on OK to save the changes.

This behavior of Word in regards to backup documents naturally brings up another point. If you save documents regularly, there may not be a need for automatic backups. Why? Consider my writing scenario: When working on a document, I typically save every five to seven minutes; I have just trained myself to do that. If I have automatic backups turned on, that means I am deleting the old backup file and creating a new one every five to seven minutes. This makes the backup file of minimal worth to me, since it only represents a version of my document that is five to seven minutes old. For me, it just makes sense to turn off the feature. If you can't get into the habit of saving manually, automatic backups are for you.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8836) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Specifying a Location To Save Automatic Backup Files.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

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What is 0 + 7?

2017-08-08 10:27:51

Kathryn

i realize you may not be monitoring this site....but my back-ups are 'saving' to the desktop all of a sudden. And I can't find a place to designate a specific file or folder for the collection of Saves. Help. Thanks.


2017-06-19 19:32:01

Jim Panda

For Mac Word 2016, try this workaround:

1. Command comma, or: Go to Word in Apple's file menu bar for Word, and click Preferences.
2. Under Personal Settings, click File Locations, select AutoRecover files, click Modify, and then set the desired location where you'd like to keep such files. I keep everything in the cloud, so I know I will a recent autorecover file, and since I have an offsite computer set to update the cloud every 10 minutes or so, I also have an older backup with versioning there.
3. Go back to menu bar Word > Preferences, if nec.
4. Under Output and Sharing, click Save, untick the box for "Always create backup copy." Stay here.
5. Tick the box for "Save AutoRecover info," and set to whatever you prefer or what your network/pc can handle. With Auto Backup disabled, I like to set to 2 or 3 minutes myself. A lot gets done in a short amount of time!


2017-01-13 06:07:57

Dana

Repeat of David Kelly's question. The folder icon is a huge distraction:

I like the auto backup feature BUT 2016 Word for Mac now creates a FOLDER for every backup, cluttering up Finder where the before all my backups were single files beginning with 'Backup of ..." and much simpler to access. Any way to get back to that and skip the folder creation process?


2016-10-10 08:43:57

David Kelly

I like the auto backup feature BUT 2016 Word for Mac now creates a FOLDER for every backup, cluttering up Finder where the before all my backups were single files beginning with 'Backup of ..." and much simpler to access. Any way to get back to that and skip the folder creation process?


2016-09-28 22:05:20

Mary Love May

I have a Mac 10.11.16. I use MWord.
All of a sudden it has started making automatic back-ups of documents that I open or create. I do not want all these extra back-ups. I have found versions of the tip you give above but under File, I do not have an "options"tab so I cannot even get started. Might that be only for Windows? How do I stop these automatic back-ups?


2016-06-07 15:17:07

Bernice

In Mac my word doc saves in auto save in two different locations. How do I get it to save in just one?


2015-10-07 11:58:26

Lucas

How about this guys add-in?

http://www.gmayor.com/SaveInTwoPlacesAddIn.htm


2015-08-24 15:17:34

Norman Baines

Succession of backup files: no easy way. What I do (requires self-discipline) is copy the backup file to a folder in the cloud (Dropbox in my case) every time I save. Windows asks you if you want to replace the existing file. Tell it to copy but keep both files and it will create a file called "Backup of <mydoc>(2).wbk". The "2" will automatically increment each time you do this. That way you have a series of numbered backups sitting out there in the cloud. This is a tip for the truly paranoid, but I work as an editor of PhD theses and the like, and you dare not take risks with other people's lives! And Word is disgracefully unstable with a 500 page document with Track Changes switched on.


2015-08-23 15:29:04

Ken Hopper

How can a save a succession of backup versions? Advice would be much appreciated


2015-08-07 10:04:31

dave McLaughlin

I understand that I can create a back of the file. however, I want to save the back to this files in another folder not the same folder. how can this be done with word 2013


2015-06-13 23:02:27

Dawn

When I go into file, then options, save is not highlighted. Can't turn off auto recovery. Why isn't save an option. What else can I do. Thank you


2015-05-09 20:33:12

Eddie

How to restore the replaced Word Document, note the back up option u mention was not ticked at the time of the incident.


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