Controlling Automatic Backups

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 10, 2018)


Excel includes the ability to save automatic backups of your workbooks, and this can be controlled on a workbook-by-workbook basis. If your system is configured to create backups automatically, you may want to modify whether a backup is created for a particular workbook. In order to turn it off for a specific workbook you need to follow these steps:

  1. Display the Save As dialog box. (Easiest way is to press F12.)
  2. Click the Tools option in the lower-right corner (near the Save button). Excel displays a drop-down list.
  3. Click General Options. Excel displays the General Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The General Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Always Create Backup check box is cleared.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Continue saving your workbook.

Following these steps affects only the current workbook; other workbooks remain unchanged in their behavior.

One thing that should be noted when working with Excel—it is easy to confuse automatic backups with AutoRecover. These are not the same. AutoRecover is a way to save temporary information, between "hard saves," so that you can recover a workbook on which you are working if the power goes out. Automatic backups are copies of your workbook saved whenever you save the workbook itself. (These backups are stored in the same folder as the original workbook being backed up.) Since AutoRecover and automatic backups are two different features of Excel, changing the settings of one feature doesn't affect the other at all.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3884) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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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What is two minus 2?

2020-01-17 21:06:58

Peter Atherton

This is it in Excel 2016, Click the drop-down box on Tools

(see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. Save Tools

2020-01-17 10:07:09

J. Woolley

I see it in my Excel 365 Version 1912.

2020-01-16 03:35:56


Was this removed in MS Excel 2019??? I don't see the box for Always create backup anymore. All of a sudden, my file isn't backing up :(

2019-05-29 16:54:54

Sharon Emmerling

Step 4 says: "Make sure the Always Create Backup check box is cleared." Shouldn't it be selected (checked)?

2018-12-16 09:10:08

Jim Foote

Thank you all for your comments. I haven't found a macro that does what I want but I did find an add-in called AutoBackup.xla and it works with my copy of Office 2007, 2013, and 2016 (365) and functions exactly the way I want, allowing me to specify the interval of each backup, the destination folder (including my flash drive), the number of days the backups will be saved and the maximum number of backups. The only limitation is that the Excel file needs to be saved with an xlsm extension, which I don't view as a problem at all.

2018-12-15 17:34:02

John Mann

I also could not find anything in the Options settings to enable or disable automatic backup in Excel 2010. Some time ago, there were some tips for saving in 2 or more places at once using macros; "Saving in Two Locations", Tip T011265; "Saving in Multiple Locations", Tip T012495

2018-11-25 11:15:04

Hazel Kohler

My copy of Excel (Office 365) does not make auto-backups. In fact, none of the versions of Excel I have ever used made auto-backups, although I seem to recall that some years ago, there was an add-on that you could install that would allow you to turn this function on. Thanks to this tip I now know how to turn on auto-backup on a file-by-file basis, but how do I make it default behaviour? I've looked in File/Options, and can't find anything that looks right in there.

2018-11-13 10:00:46

Jim Foote

I'm not looking for Autorecover since i understand that the Autorecover file is erased when Excel is closed correctly. I'm looking for a way to save a copy of an Excel file via Auto Backup on a flash drive, which would remain intact when Excel closes and would be accessible if the entire computer goes south. Currently, Auto Backup saves to the computer hard drive. If the hard drive fails, goodbye Excel file.

2018-11-12 10:51:09

David Gray

For me, this tip was a twofer. Not only did it call out the fairly well-hidden backup option, but it brought to my attention that F12 opens the Save As dialog box straight away.

2018-11-11 16:36:02


This is for Excel 2007.
1 If you already have a folder that you want these to be placed in continue on to step 2. If you don't have a folder, create one. For instance, I have a
Desktop folder named "Al's Excel Autorecover". All of my Autosaved and Autorecover Excel items automatically go here.
2 Open your Excel Workbook
3 Office Button
4 Excel Options>Save
5 Type in "Autorecover file location:" whatever location you chose in step 1 OK

2018-11-10 07:08:12

Jim Foote

How do you save automatic backups to a folder different than the one the original workbook is in?

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