How do I recover saved edits that are now missing when I open the doc

I added 15 pages to a research paper I’m writing. I saved my edits every 5 minutes. I saved the document again before I closed it. When I opened up the document the next day all 15 pages of edits were gone. It’s never happened before with smaller documents but this is the second time it’s happened to my research paper. The second time, I made sure I kept saving so it wouldn’t happen again but I still lost all my edits. I work on a MacBook Pro. Libre Office v. 5.4.6.2

Your strategy working with important documents seems questionable from a distance. It is - for important documents - a bad habit to just click the save button every x minutes, since you will also save all your errors into a single document. You absolutely need to have some versioning (copy) of your documents. I personally use something like MyImportantDoc-YYYY-MM-DD-Version-xy, increase the version number on each save and thus have a large number of the same thing and if it happens that I accidentally save an empty version of my doc - just go back a version.


Regarding **How do I recover** If your doc is empty, it is empty - you cannot recover from no content.

@anon73440385 : This is very interesting. It raises the question of what is actually saved when you click on the Save button. I had always thought that it saved a copy of the document as it currently exists, without the “baggage” of previous versions. It seems I have missed something.

@ve3oat :May be I do not understand your comment - but Save saves into the current file location and all previous stuff (neglecting the track changes thing and of course all these forensic data recovery technologies) gets lost. It is overwriting the file with current document content. It doesn’t save into a copy - that’s my understanding of Save , since using software and that’s why there is a Save a copy functionality in File menu of LibreOffice to address this issue and to mitigate those accidental faults like CTRL+A followed by CTRL+X and then CTRL+S.

@anon73440385 : No, I think you understood correctly and you have explained very well what I was wondering about. I have never used Save a copy and didn’t realize the difference. Thanks for your explanation.

Libre Office has never behaved like this before but I’ve never used it before for such a large document. It sounds like it doesn’t behave like WORD. I just assumed I could use save and it would save. If so, what are the benefits for using Libre Office? Why would I want to use LO in lieu of WORD if save doesn’t work? Why isn’t there any recover function for this defect?

It is your decision what you want to use and the same thing could happen with any application and hence it is your habit you should revise and not the application.

I’ve been using WORD for over 20 yrs and have never had this problem before. And I’ve written many lengthy research papers, so my habits are irrelevant here. Don’t get defensive. Please answer my legitimate question. What are the benefits of using Libre Office over WORD? If I can’t rely on save and I have to rename each version why is that better (especially when you’re writing documents 25-500 pgs in length)? If there’s a benefit to the different tecnical approaches it would be good to know.

Clearly, something is not working as it should. Have you tried backing up all your documents, uninstalling LibreOffice and then re-installing it (perhaps a newer version)?

Also, saving separate versions of your documents, as suggested by @anon73440385, is excellent, and might provide some clue as to the underlying fault with the Save process.

@Adamf1 - Congratulations for driving without any seat belt for 20 years without an accident. Buy the car which drove you securely through the world of document creation for such long time without a backup strategy. And my admiration for still not seeing the benefit of having more than a single copy of your so important document in the light of you current problem and for your tenacity to refuse well-intentioned advice. Good luck …

Have you tried to see if you inadvertantly saved your document in a somewhat unexpected location? Have you tried the file search utility? (it was once named Sherlock on MacOS)

Since you seem to be a Word fan, have you saved your document as .doc(x) instead of .odt? In this case, you’re adding instabilities: the input-output filters do not guarantee exact conversions from one format to the other; moreover after some number of edits, the underlying XML is completely cluttered with conversion approximations making the document more exposed to formatting errors.

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For me, I value Libreoffice because it does not spy on users. Microsoft Office products (including word) are geared toward cloud usage and collect telemetry data, so the concern at least for me was around privacy.

Loss of data can happen the same way with Word. Ideally use the “Save As” function for saving at particular milestones. Yes, you may end up with 100 copies of the document but it is a small inconvience to pay in exchange of losing all your work. Depending on the document I may save a new revision daily, or every couple of hours. It really depends on how much work you can afford to lose between Save As new files. Don’t know how many times versioning / multiple files has saved my ass. It is strongly recommended you save each milestone or major development as a file with a different name, eg timestamp.

  • Try select all (ctrl+a) and copy and paste into a basic text application such as writer.exe or notepad. Even if you cannot see any text or objects. Try copy and paste into notepad or write.exe.

  • Try restoring the file from the backup location: c:\users<USERNAME>\AppData\Roaming\LibreOffice\4\user\backup. It may be worth reading the full instructions.

  • Am hoping macOS file history works for you: View and restore past versions of documents on Mac - Apple Support
    Be sure to make one or more copies before trying to recover the file in-situ.

    Try to restore file using - windows File Versions/File History / Volume Shadow Copy

  • There are some tools out there for recovering data from macOS filesystems. (HFS+?) I have used GetDataBack for NTFS by runtime in the past and works a treat to recover complete files and open them straight up again. However, files are not always recovered in their entirety and potentially only fragments of the file may be recovered, but this may still be more desireable than having to start from scratch. Should only partially recovered fragment be recovered, you can then try using the strings command to extract strings from the file. (see below). There are plenty of data recovery / forensic tools out there so if GetDataBack doesn’t work you might try others.
    https://www.runtime.org/data-recovery-software.htm

  • You might also try Scalpel for linux/unix for linux/unix systems:

  • One would expect a large file to be greater than 5MB so if the size of file is less than say 5MB, then there may be salvageable data in the file which you can extract manually in order to help you rebuild/ copy or paste into a new document. Assuming the file was not password protected, you can use the unix/linux tool called strings. Apparently this is available on OSX, you need to run it under the console/command prompt. If it is not available you might try installing cygwin or installing a linux/unix in a virtual machine using Virtualbox or some other virtualisation software and run a copy of the file through string.

NB: if this does not yield reasonable results, you might first try extracting the contents of the file as if it is a zip type file. Try installing 7-zip then extract the contents of a copy of the file to an empty folder, run strings * >>all_text.txt, then open all_text.txt with a notepad or LibreOffice.

  • You might try visiting the Computer Science department. Depending on whether you get someone who is compassionate enough to donate their time to help you retrieve your work. There are plenty of data recovery / forensic tools out there, just need to work out which ones will be useful.

Best of luck.

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Thank you to those of you who provided constructive feedback and solutions. I think I’ve discovered a mystery flaw in the Libre Office software because when it happened the first time I thought it was something I did wrong, so I was meticulous in following certain saving procedures the 2nd time around. I even contacted a friend of mine from the Dept of Defense, who is skilled in finding missing documents and she couldn’t recover it. She also uses Libre Office and I told her what I did and she said it should’ve worked. I had her stumped and this woman is hired by the government to find things. She suggested switching over to Google docs. I use it for research collaborations but think that’s the most prudent option since I can’t afford to waste any more precious time on this research paper. There seems to be too many bugs in Libre Office based on all the ask.libreoffice questions I see in this forum.

There aren’t that much bugs in LO. At least 90% of the reported problems are user mishandling of the suite, mainly because they don’t take time to read the srtict minimum doc and don’t even use the built-in help. The biggest misunderstanding is that suites are not identical. When you switch from nails to screws, do you drive the screws with a hammer?

Computer programs are dumb. If some of your edits disappeared, you unfortunately saved your doc (at periodic intervals apparently) in this state. As long as you don’t close the application, undo history can save your life. But once closed, the saved file is the reference.

Concerning the number of bugs, I consider a sign of vitality they are reported. Contrary to M$ Office, we may hope the user-reported bug (as opposed to internal dev-reported ones) will be solved without depending on the good will of some commercial company. LO is quite stable and reliable.

Users are not bug counters, and can be dumb too, or just not used to this sort of thing, and I am smart enough to never use Google docs, or Microsoft Office, or anything those data leeches make, EVER, and am using FOSS for good reasons! Also: Making the user jump through hoops to “protect” their data from things that should never happen, fill their drives with bloat and use unwieldy procedures… just drives them away, and all that can be made to be handled internally, as some of my programs do have functioning undo after closing the doc and even the app! It’s called non destructive editing!

Oh, and I have encountered and reported plenty of bugs in Libreoffice over the last decade, none this bad!

Anyhoo, this is a help forum, not a bash the unsuspecting user forum, so thanks for the suggestions, but not the bashing!

Writer offers a rudimentary version control feature.

When your document has already been saved once, File>Versions becomes enabled.

If you want to backup several snapshots of your work, do File>Versions and use the Save New Version instead of the usual File>Save command. With the version specific command, you are prompted for a comment to attach to each version.

The history of your document is displayed with time of backup, author and comment.

These versions are saved amid the document, i.e. they are carried over if you move the file across your computer. The drawback is that the file is larger than strictly necessary but you can step back if you are not satisfied with the current version.

However, ther is a really big inconvenience for me (this is why I call it a rudimentary feature). If you decide to step back to some earlier version, I highly advise you to make a copy of the original file before the step back.

From the history, you can select any previous version, but there are in a linear relationship, not in a tree-like hierarchy. The restored version becomes the current one and all ulterior versions are deleted. In case you finally decide that it was not pertinent to step back, you can’t revert to your most recent version! Thus the advice for a backup before definitive action.

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See [Tutorial] How to recover corrupted, broken, lost or deleted files, and those with #####

Thanks for the effort, but since file recovery (General/forensic) was covered above, and you didn’t point out that the tutorial you linked to was LO specific, I thought you meant forensic file recovery, and didn’t read it: Been there done that, and it was a big waste of time, as file recovery software cannot recover files from SSD’s, which are in wider use now than Disc drives.

I did figured it out myself though (I remember some things sometimes, just not everything all the time, nor when I need it most). (<:

The developers should work on making Writer (all programs) keep undo between sessions, and save backups transparently, only to be turned off in the settings, and that with a big red warning not to! I would really appreciate that, and thank them for all their efforts in making USER friendly apps keeping user convenience and productivity in mind.; After all, programs are there to be used, often for business and vital information, and not constantly tinkered with, that’s what developers do, not users.

Open LO, not Writer, Impress… > Recent Files> open any files with that name to find the right version, do a Save As, add a “Good” or something to the name and that should do it; Worked for me.

Now I also found out why my drive space is dwindling and will clean out everything in there I have archived and don’t need anymore, as well as find out how I can make LO delete them automatically, if there is a way to tell it when a doc is done and won’t be edited anymore (feature request!).

I guess I’m not a dumbass after all!