Q: I run XP and Office 2003, and I was rummaging through the Options menu (click on Tools, Options), and in the Save tab I came across an option to Save AutoRecover info every:. And then it gives you the choice of how frequently you want it to save. Huh? I didn’t know I could automatically save files. And where are those files saved?
A: The AutoRecover button does not perform an automatic save option in the standard sense—that is, it does not replace a regular manual save. That’s not to say it isn’t valuable— under the right circumstances. If you suddenly lose power or the system crashes or hangs, the next time you start Word your screen will display any AutoRecover files. Each saved file will have a time stamp on it. If you’re lucky, the time stamp will be later than your last manual save. But be aware of the downside to this: When you close Word, all those AutoRecover files are deleted.
Bottom line: There is no substitute for frequently pressing Ctrl+S.
And while you’re examining the options under Save, notice Allow fast saves (see screenshot above). Here’s what happens if you check that box: Each time you perform a manual save, Word appends any changes since the last save to the end of the file rather than saving the entire file. True, it’s fast and may save a fraction of a second, but unless you have a massive file, you’ll never notice it. However, it’s one of the leading causes of file corruption, and Microsoft wisely left it out of Word 2007.
Finally, let’s look at Always create backup copy. I call this the belt-and-suspenders option. If you check it, every time you save a document, Word retains the previous version with a .wbk extension. While this can be a lifesaver in some situations, you’ll also notice that your folder soon fills with .wbk files. So whether to check it is your choice.