Unfortunately, there probably isn't a student alive who hasn't lost a paper or other work on the computer at some point.
There are ways to avoid this terrible plight. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and prepare ahead of time, by setting up your computer to save your work and create a backup copy of everything.
If the worst happens, however, there may be some ways to recover your work when using a PC.
Problem: All my work disappeared!
One problem that can startle a writer is seeing everything disappear instantly. This happens if you select or highlight any portion of your work.
When you highlight a passage of any lengthfrom a single word to a hundred pagesand then type any letter or symbol, the program replaces the highlighted text with whatever comes next. So if you highlight your entire paper and accidentally type a b youll end up with only the single letter.
Solution: You can fix this by going to Edit and Undo. That process will take you backward through your most recent actions. Be careful! You should do this immediately, before an automatic save occurs.
Problem: My computer crashed
Or my computer froze, and my paper disappeared!
Who hasnt suffered this agony? Were typing along the night before the paper is due and our system starts acting up! This can be a real nightmare. The good news is that most programs save your work automatically about every ten minutes. You can also set up your system to save more often.
Solution: Its best to set up for an automatic save every minute or two. We can type a lot of information in a short time, so you should save your work frequently.
In Microsoft Word, go to Tools and Options, then select Save. There should be a box marked AutoRecover. Make sure the box is checked, and adjust the minutes.
You should also see a selection for Always Create a Backup Copy. Its a good idea to check that box, as well.
Problem: I accidentally deleted my paper!
This is another common mistake. Sometimes our fingers act before our brains get warmed up, and we delete things or save over them without thinking. The good news is, those documents and files can sometimes be recovered.
Solution: Go to the Recycle Bin to see if you can find your work. Once you locate it, click on it and accept the option to Restore.
You may also find deleted work by finding the options to Search Hidden Files and Folders. Files that are deleted dont really disappear until they are overwritten. Until then, they may be stored on your computer but hidden.
To try this recovery process using a Windows system, go to Start and Search. Select Advanced Search and you should see an option for including hidden files in your search. Good luck!
Problem: I know I saved it, but I cant find it!
Sometimes it can seem like our work has disappeared into thin air, but it hasnt really. For various reasons, we can sometimes accidentally save our work in a temporary file or other strange place, which makes us feel a little crazy when we try to open it later. These files can be difficult to open again.
Solution: If you know youve saved your work but you cant find it in a logical place, try looking in Temporary Files and other odd places. You may need to do an Advanced Search.
Problem: I saved my work on a flash drive and now Ive lost it!
Ouch. Theres not much we can do about a lost flash drive or floppy disk. You could try going to the computer where you worked to see if you can find a backup copy through an advanced search.
Solution: There is a better way to avoid losing work, if you are willing to take preventive measures ahead of time. Each time you write a paper or other work that you cant afford to lose, take time to send yourself a copy by email attachment.
If you get into this habit, you will never lose another paper. You can access it from any computer!
Tips to Avoid Losing Your Work
- If youre working on a lengthy paper, always send yourself a copy by email attachment every time you update it.
- Always save a few versions every time you stop working. Save one to an external drive and one to the hard drive.
- Get In the habit of choosing the Yes option when the computer asks if you want to save changes. There are very few reasons for selecting No, so think carefully about what youre doing every time you shut down your program.
- Sometimes we accidentally save two versions of our work, so one will be more updated than another. This can cause serious confusion. Avoid opening an old version that hasnt been updated by sorting your documents by Date when you open them.