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Visual Studio
VS 2005+

Visual Studio Automatic File Recovery

Visual Studio 2005 and later editions include a feature that automatically creates recovery data for unsaved project files. If the IDE closes unexpectedly, this recovery data can be used to recreate the unsaved files, minimising the loss of work.


Visual Studio includes a feature called, "AutoRecover". This runs in the background whilst Visual Studio is in use, automatically saving recovery information for files that are open in the integrated development environment (IDE) and unsaved. If Visual Studio crashes, power is lost or your solution is closed unexpectedly, this information can be used to recover some lost work. On reopening the IDE, a list of files that can be recovered is displayed and the option is given to recover them or discard the AutoRecover data for those files.

Configuring AutoRecover

The default settings for AutoRecover for a new installation of Visual Studio are useful for most developers. However, you can modify the configuration. To view and edit the settings, open the Tools menu and select "Options" to show the options dialog box. In the tree structure in the dialog box, expand the Environment branch and choose "AutoRecover".

Visual Studio AutoRecover Settings

The first checkbox allows you to enable or disable the AutoRecover facility. In most situations you should leave the checkbox ticked so that AutoRecover is active. You should only disable AutoRecover if you have installed an alternative recovery system.

The next setting chooses the frequency at which recovery information is generated. The default setting specifies that recovery files are created every five minutes. This means that if Visual Studio does close unexpectedly, you should only lose a maximum of five minutes of work. If you commonly make lots of changes to many files you might wish to lower this value to increase the frequency.

The final setting determines how long AutoRecover information should be kept. By default, recovery information is available for seven days. After this, the files are removed and cannot be recovered. You should increase this value if you work with multiple projects but open them only rarely.

Recovery File Location

You should not normally need to view recovery files directly. If you do need to see them, they can be found in the My Documents folder. Open this folder and the subfolder named the same as the version of Visual Studio you are using. This contains a "Backup Files" directory that holds the recovery data, organised by project.

11 August 2011