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Setting Up Automatic Backup and Recovery Options

Office XP comes with "air bags"—a sophisticated set of programs that are designed to make crashes less frequent, to make crashes less devastating when they do occur, and to increase your chances of recovering a document when Office does crash. These are the important points to keep in mind:

  • If an Office application "hangs"—goes out to lunch and doesn't come back—you should shut it down using the Office Application Recovery program. Click Start, Programs, Microsoft Office Tools, and choose Microsoft Office Application Recovery. Avoid using Task Manager or the other Windows tools—Office is one of the few Windows programs that ships with tools specifically designed to dislodge a "hang." We will note with appropriate irony that it's also one of the few Windows programs that needs one.

  • When you restart an Office application that has crashed, chances are good that you'll be presented with the Office Document Recovery task pane (see Figure 3.10). Documents that are listed as [Original] probably aren't as up-to-date as those marked [Recovered]. Choose the version that you want to keep, click it, and then Close the Document Recovery task pane.

  • Figure 3.10 Office's Document Recovery task pane appears on the left side of the screen.

  • It might be worthwhile to save several [Recovered] documents and compare the versions to see which (if any) have worthwhile changes. To do so, click the down arrow to the right of the [Recovered] filename and choose Save As.


Automatic Backup and Recovery—the "air bags for Office"—should be treated with the kind of skepticism usually reserved for "version 1.0" Office features. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. If you find yourself with crashed Office documents that aren't resurrected by the "air bags," consider using a dedicated document descrambler, such as those offered by OfficeRecovery (http://www.officerecovery.com).

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