Data loss is not only frustrating but can cause a lot of headaches especially if you are already pressed for time. However, things like inadvertently closing an application without saving or computer suddenly freezing, do happen. There are things that you can do though to prevent such a nightmare from happening.

Here are some tips to help keep documents safe.

1. Work on your local drive

Always save your documents to your local hard drive. Normally, your local hard drive is the C: drive. Working on an external drive may cause problems while you are saving due to the amount of time required for information to travel between the devices. Your file may become corrupted, application could freeze, or the external hard drive becomes corrupted, leaving you unable to save or lose your work totally.

2. Save Often

Saving your files every five to 10 minutes lessens the chances of you losing your data when something goes wrong with your computer. For most software, “CTRL+S”  works as a shortcut for saving files, so make it a habit to hit these keys as often as possible. Power cuts or a glitch can happen, so CTRL-S regularly. If you are a little forgetful, set a reminder to alert you regularly to remind you to save.

3. Have Another Version of Your File

It may be wise to create another version of your file, especially if you make revisions or edits to it. Keeping versions of the file allows you to go back to the previous or original version in case you need to do so. This also another way of recovering most of your data from the original file in case something goes wrong while you are working on a different version of the file. If you do use an external hard drive you may want to keep a backup on there. You could also pdf your file which will keep a separate version of the work.

4. Consider Cloud-based Software

If you aren’t working in the cloud then what’s stopping you? One of the many advantages of using cloud-based software like a word processor or spreadsheet is that it minimises the chances of you losing your work. For many software apps, your file gets saved automatically to their servers. You can access your documents anytime, from any device, and any browser. There are a lot of cloud-based software options available now, so do your research to find one that works for you (remember to check it’s GDPR compliant).

5. Password Protect Your Files

Make it a habit to password protect your files especially for those sensitive or confidential documents. Consider a strong password with a mix of special characters and numbers. Look for apps like LastPass (this is an affiliate link) that allows you to save your passwords, banking information etc in a secure online environment. Remember handwritten passwords can be lost or easily stolen.

6.Shutdown Your Computer Properly

Save and properly close all applications before shutting down your computer. Some applications and tasks tend to run in the background, so properly closing running applications can help prevent data loss or potential corruption. If you have a tendency to lock your device or ‘sleep’ it this does not turn off applications so make sure you regularly Shut Down.

7. Enable Autosave and Recover Unsaved File

To enable Auto Recover and AutoSave on Windows PCs (or do a search for those terms in your search facility):

  • Select “File”
  • Under “Help”, click “Options”
  • Click “Save”
  • The “Save Auto Recover information every _ minutes” checkbox should be marked
  • The “Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving” checkbox should also be selected.

To retrieve accidentally closed files:

  • Open the Windows Office application
  • Select “File”
  • Select “Recent”
  • For Office 2013 only, scroll down to the bottom of your “Recent Documents”. Select “Recover Unsaved Documents” for Word, “Recover Unsaved Workbooks” for Excel, or “Recover Unsaved Presentations” for PowerPoint.
  • The unsaved drafts will open in a new window. Select the file to open.
  • click “Save As” to save your recovered file.

Alternatively, you may also do the following steps:

  • Open the Office application.
  • Open a new file or an existing file
  • Select “File”
  • Select “Info”
  • Select “Manage Versions”
  • Click Recover “Unsaved Documents” for Word, “Recover Unsaved Workbooks” for Excel or “Recover Unsaved Presentations” for PowerPoint.
  • The unsaved drafts will open in a new window. Select the file to open.
  • click “Save As” to save your recovered file.


Data loss is often difficult to predict, and can cause serious problems and anxiety when it happens at the very worst moment. If you are working on a document that is a large file or has taken hours to produce you will want to try and minimise any possibility of losing your work. One final option is to print off the document, but as Blue Ninja promotes a fully online, paperless office, printing should be a last resort.

Have you ever had a time when you’ve lost data? Share your story in the comments below.