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Beware the AutoSave


October 17, 2017 - by Bill Jelen

Beware the AutoSave

In Excel 2017, they introduced a new co-authoring feature. Here is the horrible downside you need to know whether you ever plan to co-author or not. If you see AutoSave lit up in the top left corner of your spreadsheet, you are in for trouble.

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  • Do you have a new AutoSave icon in the top left corner of Excel?
  • When this lights up, watch out, because you will be destroying data soon.
  • The feature to allow multiple people to edit a workbook at the same time is called CoAuthoring.
  • I need to Co-Author in 0.00001% of my Excel sessions.
  • Co-Authoring was hard to implement, but it is finally done.
  • So I am thrilled 0.000001% of the time.
  • But 99.9999999% of the time, we have to deal with AutoSave, which is horrible.
  • You have to change your workflow. Don't count on Save As after you make changes.
  • You have to Save a Copy before making changes.
  • When you forget, (and you will forget), use the dropdown in the title bar to go back.
  • Please vote: this

Video Transcript

Learn Excel From MrExcel, Episode 2156: Beware The AutoSave.

Well, it's hard to think of a new feature in Excel that has just been so universally hated. I want you to look up in the top left-hand corner of your Excel window, and see that AUTOSAVE up there? Do you have that? It means you're on Office 365 and mine is grayed out. Why is mine grayed out? Mine is grayed out because I refuse to drink the kool-aid and I do not save my files to OneDrive or to SharePoint. I save them on my hard drive, and, yes, someday when this hard drive dies, I will regret that decision, but I've been burned in the past. I was an early adopter and that's a story for another day. I do not use OneDrive, but, if you use OneDrive and you look up at there in the top left-hand corner and you see this button that says AUTOSAVE ON, then that means that, now, in order to do what Microsoft calls co-authoring, co-authoring is the fancy word for 2 or 3 or 4 people from the same department can edit the same workbook at the same time.

Now, here's the times in my life that I've had to actually use co-authoring where multiple people had to be in the same workbook and here's the times in my life where I did not have to AUTOSAVE. It was just me and me only selecting and working on the worksheet, alright. So now, there have been times, I get it, and this is a pain when multiple people in the same department have to edit the same workbook, and one of them gets read-only, not read-only but write access, and then forgets they have write access and leaves, and goes to a 3-hour lunch. I've been there. It's a pain and their door’s locked and now we're all locked out, right?

So, there are times where co-authoring is awesome but, for me, for me, it is an incredibly small. It's that tiny little white strip right there of times that co-authoring is useful to me, alright? So, kudos to Microsoft for making my life easier, like, 0.00001% of the time, but the problem is is that 99.99999% of the time, I'm now stuck with AUTOSAVE automatically turned on, and AUTOSAVE automatically turned on is horrible and here's the reason that it's horrible.

How many times do you have…here's a report for January. So, it's the January report, right, and now it's February. I need to create the February report. So, what do I do? Do I start from a completely blank workbook? No. Why would I start from a completely blank workbook? That would be insane. I go to last month's workbook and I open last month's workbook, the January workbook, and I say, alright, well, now I’m going to make some changes to the January workbook.

First off, title, FEBRUARY. Down the left-hand side, we're now 2/1/2018. I'll grab the fill handle and drag, go down to -- I don’t know -- 28, 29, whatever the right answer is. Yeah, 28. There we are. Now, my totals have some extra rows so I delete those extra rows, alright, and now I'm ready to do FILE, SAVE AS, but it's too freaking late because every change that I've done here has been changed over the January numbers. Thank God I didn't rewrite all the data with the February numbers or I would have completely hosed up January, right? This is the point where I need to do FILE, SAVE AS, but, no, there is no SAVE AS. It's now SAVE AS COPY. SAVE A COPY. So, I SAVE A COPY as February but it's too freaking late because the changes to January have all been overwritten.

The Excel team at Microsoft said that they thought long and hard and debated about this, and I can't believe that they came down with this answer of turning AUTOSAVE on for everybody, right? It's a tiny fraction of the people that needed to co-author and, by turning this on for everybody, they are screwing up Excel files left and right.

I know there's an awesome thread out at excel.uservoice.com where people are begging for this to be turned off by default, and when I search for AUTOSAVE -- it's funny -- there's dozens of threads. So, I had to go find THE thread. This is one by Liam Bastick. Liam is an Excel MVP. Funny, funny guy down in Australia, but really, really smart, and so this is the one. I'm asking everyone to go vote. I'll put this link down in the YouTube comments down there. Go give us a vote. We need to get to a 1000 votes here to make sure that Excel hears us loud and clear that this setting in Excel is the wrong way to go.

Alright. So, what can you do? First off, turn it off, but you can only turn it off in individual files. You can't globally turn it off. That means that you're going to have to remember every single time, and then, if you realize, before you saved as February, that you could go back to some previous version -- so maybe this one from 9:02, maybe this one from 9:10 -- all right, good. It looks like that came back and then I have to restore, but I shouldn't have to do that. This is a horrible, horrible decision by Microsoft and the Excel team to force this upon us.

Now, it doesn't affect me. I don't care about this at all because I refuse to save to OneDrive, but if you're saving to OneDrive or you're saving to SharePoint and you have this stupid feature turned on, you're going to have to undo 20 years of how you've done things where you open the previous file, make some changes, and then SAVE AS. That will not work anymore. Now, you have to do this, and good luck doing this. I forget SAVE AS COPY every time I make the changes and then I'm screwed. Thanks, Microsoft.

Alright. Look in the top-left corner of Excel. Do you have AUTOSAVE on? If you do, it's going to be destroying your data soon. The whole reason that AUTOSAVE is there is for co-authoring and co-authoring is great in the 0.00001% of the time I need co-authoring. It was hard to do. Kudos to the Excel team for having it done and I love it 0.0001%, but the rest of the time, we have to deal with AUTOSAVE which is horrible. You have to change your workflow, you can't SAVE AS after making changes, you have to immediately SAVE AS A COPY, and you will forget. I forget continuously. When you do, that dropdown in the title bar lets you go back, but rather than just complaining about it, rather than making angry videos about it, we have to let our voices be heard. Please go out to this link in the YouTube comments and vote. We need to let Microsoft know that this was the wrong decision.

Thanks for stopping by. We’ll see you next time for another netcast from MrExcel.

Download File

Download the sample file here: Podcast2156.xlsm

Title Photo: olafpictures / Pixabay


Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
Excel Subtotals Straight to the Point

I used to use the Subtotals feature daily after downloading mainframe data. This book covers every tip and trick for using Subtotals.