Disable Microsoft Word Fast Saves

Mac Tip #130/03-Dec-2003
Disable Microsoft Word Fast Saves

Many of my clients use Microsoft Word and recently I’ve helped with several problems where documents were corrupted. In one case my client was unable to open a long report she’d been working on for days, or if it did open then Word would immediately quit.

After a lot of investigation and troubleshooting we established that several things were going on:

  1. my client would make a copy of the previous month’s report and change it for the current month.
  2. my client had “Allow Fast Saves” checked in the settings.

Both of these are a bad idea.

If you reuse older documents then problems and corruption can build up. If you do want to use this method to save yourself time and trouble then try to always use the same document as your base document. For example, always copy the January 2003 report rather than copying the report from the previous month.

Fast Saves were probably the root cause of my client’s problems. When Word uses “fast save” it makes a quick and dirty record of what’s in the document. It’s a bit like an extremely long shopping list:

  • add the word “the” at the start of paragraph 2.
  • delete the letter i at the end of the first line
  • and so on, for thousands or millions of edits leading to a ghastly, tangled and possibly corrupted mess.

When Word does a “slow” save it’s much more thorough and careful. It starts at the beginning and simply records everything it finds. It’s clean and simple and not likely to lead to corruption.

To switch off Fast Saves go to the Preferences menu and uncheck Allow Fast Saves in the Save section.


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