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Open Office Auto Save Feature

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 10/16/2008

Sometimes, even free software can crash on you - this article is here to rescue you when OpenOffice crashes and you lose your work.

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    Know what open source software is? Even if you're not sure of the definition, you probably use an open source piece of software in your daily life. Firefox, OpenOffice, uTorrent, all these are open source and work to help you through the support of the community. However, sometimes no matter how many people work on software, it can still crash - and even though you feel a little guilty about complaining about something you get for free, it still is necessary to fix your problems - which is what you're here for. For the sake of simplicity, we'll be delving in-depth with OpenOffice (one of the most popular open source office suites available).

    Now, crashes are typically the most common problem that people undergo when working with software on a daily basis. Let's take the most common situation - you're working on an incredibly important document and all of sudden it happens - the little windows "error" screen pops up informing you that "OpenOffice has crashed" and that Windows is looking for the solution to the problem.

    Now, thankfully, the program includes an "auto-recover" option. In a nutshell, what this means is that every 15 minutes OpenOffice will save your work, and as soon as your work crashes (which, sometimes is inevitable), the software tries to make a last-ditch effort to save your documents. Now, assuming everything goes well, the program crashes, you start it back up, and there, on the first page is a list of the documents that the software has auto-saved.

    However, you only go back 15 minutes in time - what if those 15 minutes were the ones where you had an epiphany? There's nothing that can be done to get back that time - however, there is a way to change the auto-recover option to make it 5 minutes rather than 15. This way, your work is saved every 5 minutes and losing 5 minutes is often no big deal. The option to do this can be found in the "tools" menu inside the program.

    Go into "tools", then select "options". From there, you'll see a window pop up with a list of items on the left-hand side - go ahead and click on the "Load/Save" option (click on the little plus sign to the left of it). You'll see the window expand underneath the "Load/Save" sign and some new options will pop up - click on "general". Now take a look at the right hand side. See where it says "Save Autorecovery information every" and then to the right of that is a number value? You can adjust that value to whatever you like - keep in mind that something between 3-5 minutes is ideal because if you set that value to 1 minute, you'll see a lag in your processing power as the software saves your work every minute.

    Crashing is not something that is unique, but given the fact that you have now set your auto-recovery options to save more frequently, your work should be fine. Suppose however, that you start suffering some technical glitches - screen flicker, colors aren't right, the program doesn't allow you to click on parts of your work, etc. These problems are less easily fixable. In those cases, what you'll want to do initially is to reinstall the program.

    Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features. You'll see a window pop up with a list of all your programs. Look over the list and select "OpenOffice". Run through the prompts to uninstall the software - make sure to select all pieces of the program to uninstall. Once the program is uninstalled, re-download the program from the above link and re-install the same way you initially did. If the problem was some sort of "ghost in the machine", the error will not repeat itself after the re-install is complete. However, if the problem continues, you'll need to check out the support forums on the OpenOffice website.