By Justin Doughty
Losing work is never nice, but AutoCAD luckily has two features that can help prevent the loss of work. These are Automatic Save, that creates a temporary save in the background as you work, and Backup files that keep a history of your last save.
There does however seem to be some confusion about how these work and where they should be. This guide will help clarify what the process does, and how to quickly get your work back if anything should go wrong.
The first thing to check is where both of these are set. If we go to the AutoCAD options menu, under the Open and Save tab, in the section titled File Safety Precautions, we can tick these:
Looking at Backup file, these are created by default in the same folder as the .dwg file. If we look at the sample below, a new drawing was created, Drawing1.dwg, and some geometry drawn. 12 minutes later, after adding some more geometry, it was saved again.
The save process, renames the old .dwg to .bak, and writes a new .dwg file. This means the .bak file will always hold the information from the previous save.
Moving on to Automatic saves, again in the options, first we need to know where the Automatic saves are going. This is set in the Files tab of the AutoCAD options, under Automatic Save File Location:
If we leave AutoCAD for the time set in the options, we will see in the command line, it performs the automatic save to the location specified, creating an .sv$ file in this location:
If we manually browse to this location using the windows file explorer, we will be able to see this file. Just make sure show hidden files, and show file extensions are ticked in the options.
Depending on what happens when work is lost can depend on what files are there to recover. The .sv$ will only be present if AutoCAD crashes. As soon as save is pressed, or AutoCAD exits correctly, it will be deleted. Also pressing save multiple times may seem like a good idea, but you will end up with a .dwg and .bak file saved at the same time. If there is an issue at the time of save, the same data will be in both files.
GUIDE TO RECOVER FILES
Therefore the best piece of advice I can give if work is lost, is DON’T start AutoCAD. Instead use windows file explorer to manually recover backup or automatic saves:
-Navigate to the Backup and Automatic Save location.
-Check the date and time of the .dwg, .bak and .sv$ file.
-Starting with the newest, rename the file extension to .dwg
-Then open in AutoCAD to check the file can be opened and the latest work is there.