MS Word

Save Your Documents the Best Way

The Problem:

I've deleted everything in this document except one paragraph, and the file is still far too large to send via email.

The Solution:

This happens because Word's fast-saving option works by appending the latest changes to the end of the file instead of saving the entire file. So when you delete most of the document, Word adds the details of that deletion to the end of the document, but the material remains in the document file. This not only makes the file size even bigger than it was before, but it can be indiscreet or even dangerous when you share documents with other peopleyour documents may still contain material that you deleted long ago.

Unless you're working with huge files on a slow computer, fast saving won't usually save you enough time to compensate for its disadvantages.

Word performs a normal save, which is called a full save, every 15th fast save, or when you've made so many changes to the document that it makes more sense to rewrite the file than to append further changes. However, you shouldn't rely on this full save to ensure that your document contains only the data you think it does.

In a full-saved file, the actual order of characters stored in the file is the same as their order in the document; in a fast-saved file, the order is different. Corruption is more likely to occur in fast-saved files than in full-saved files. Fast saving works only on local drives, not on network drives.

To turn off fast saving, choose Tools » Options, click the Save tab, and uncheck the "Allow fast saves" box. While you're on the Save tab, modify some other save options:

  • Check the "Always create backup copy" box to make Word keep a backup copy that consists of the previously saved version of the document.

  • Specify whether you want Word to perform background saves by checking or unchecking the "Allow background saves" box. Allowing background saves enables you to resume work more quickly after issuing a Save command, because you can continue working while Word completes the save. However, it usually makes each save take longer. Unless your documents are huge and your computer slow, or your documents are saved on a server to which you have a slow connection, background saves are unlikely to save you much time. Word displays a pulsing disk icon in the status bar to indicate a background save.