Backing up your documents is always a good thing to do, but not always something we remember to do. Word can automatically create a backup copy of your Word document every time you save it and we’ll show you how to do this.

To have Word automatically save backup copies of your documents, click the “File” tab.

On the backstage screen, click “Options” in the list of items on the left.

On the “Word Options” dialog box, click “Advanced” in the list of items on the left.

When your document is small, saving to disk is a fairly quick process. However, as your document grows, or if you start saving your document to an external storage device that’s not as speedy as the internal hard drive, saving the document can take quite a bit more time. To overcome this delay, Word allows you to save your document in the background so you can continue to work on the document while it’s being saved. To turn on this feature, select the “Allow background saves” check box so there is a check mark in the box.

NOTE: An animated disk displays on the status bar in Word while a document is being saved. When the disk disappears, the save is complete.

Click “OK” to close the “Word Options” dialog box.

NOTE: Before a backup copy is created, you must save your document more than once. The backup copy is saved in the same folder as the original document. You can open it in Word and edit it as you would any “.doc” or “.docx” file.

The backup of your Word document is nothing more than a copy of the file with “Backup of” prepended to the beginning of the file and the file extension changed to “.wbk”. Only one backup copy of a document is maintained. When you save the document again, the existing “.wbk” file is deleted, the current document is renamed as the updated “.wbk” file, and the document is saved again as a standard Word document.

Having Word create automatic backups of your documents should NOT be used as a substitute for backing up your files to external media or cloud storage (or both) on a regular basis.

Profile Photo for Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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