Question Data Loss within Microsoft Word? (Or on the hard drive?)


Dec 3, 2013
I have had a few crashes on my Windows 10 machine (HP Zbook 15G2). At first, I thought they might be related to heat as it's an older machine and was running pretty hot at the time, however..., during reboot after one of the crashes, there was a message during the Windows startup screen that one of my platter hard drives (a non-system drive used to store a lot of my documents) was being "repaired for errors" or something like this (I should have written down the exact message but I didn't). It took a few minutes, the computer and hard drive booted up, and I looked around and didn't see anything particularly amiss with the data, like obviously missing files. Even so, I started transferring all the documents to an external hard drive and then a new laptop, which I had bought recently but hadn't taken the time to set up yet.

However, after transferring the files to the new computer, I opened up some .docx files which were being worked on around the time of the crashes and found them just "empty." The files weren't missing, they just had zero text in them. I knew that couldn't be right, because some of these files had been emailed to a colleagued, and I managed to recover some of the files by getting them off my email server. These emailed documents had text in them and appeared normal, so obviously I had saved them in that state. As to the files which I know for a fact were "emptied," they might all have been open at the time of the crashes (they were documents which were being worked on AROUND that time), though of course it is hard to remember exactly which files were open and I can't be certain. I didn't discover the data loss until several days later.

In any case, this data loss has made me worry about the integrity of basically every file on the drive. I have backups of all my important documents from this hard drive dating from about one month ago, but of course some work has been done since then, so I am debating whether to use the old backup rather than the current one (I would keep the current one somewhere, but only go to it to "add" something I could remember doing to the new backup). I would lose some work, but in some ways I would feel more secure because this backup was from a time before my system or hard drive apparently started wiping the contents of .docx files. On the other hand, I wonder if even THOSE files could be corrupted somehow, for example if the hard drive started going bad. This brings up the question of how far back to go. There's really nothing like a bit of data loss to set your paranoia on edge, like every file on your computer could just be eaten out from the inside without warning.

Does anyone have any insight on this? Is this most likely something dumb that can happen with Microsoft Word, where it wipes the text out of an open file during a crash? Or should I actually be worried about any data on the hard drive?



Mar 16, 2013
This is not a MS Word thing. In the context of a system crash, any data on the drive, especially if it was open for editing at that moment, is subject to corruption.
Nothing to do with word specifically.

This is why I keep a rolling 30 days of backups. Can recover any physical drive, or single file, from any point in the last month.