Controlling Automatic Backups

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 23, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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 selected or cleared, as desired.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Continue saving your workbook.

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

The first thing to realize about this particular setting in Excel is that it is fairly esoteric and, therefore, easy to miss. Normally you change settings in Excel by going to the Excel Options dialog box—not so with this setting. Note it is only accessed through the Save As dialog box.

Another thing that should be noted—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, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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