How To Recover Unsaved, Deleted Adobe Illustrator Files

Picture this, you are working on an important client project on Adobe Illustrator and suddenly the system crashes without giving you the time to save your work. Or you have accidentally deleted the saved Illustrator file from your device. It all sounds like a nightmare, isn’t it? But all this is possible and you can anytime lose your important Illustrator project due to human or machine error.

But, you don’t have to worry because there is still some chance that you may recover your work. We are here to help and would like to show you some methods using which you can recover deleted or unsaved Illustrator files on your computer. As a bonus tip, we have also covered the steps to restore saved over Illustrator file. So without any further ado let’s get started.

Quick links to specific parts of the article:

How To Recover Illustrator File

As we discussed earlier that there are three scenarios in which you may want to recover your Illustrator file, the first when you have saved over the file and now want to revert back to the previous version of it. The second is when you have deleted the file from your computer and the third is when you did not save the file. The methods to recover the Illustrator file in all three scenarios are different and we are going to discuss them one by one.

1. Recover Unsaved Illustrator Files

There are two methods using which you can recover unsaved Illustrator files after a crash.

a) Auto Recovery

On Illustrator software you get an auto-recovery feature that allows you to recover an unsaved file instantly after a crash. You just have to relaunch the software as soon as it crashes and you will see that the recently unsaved file opens up on the screen with the file name prefix with Recovered.

recover unsaved illustrator file

Once the file is recovered you can save it by clicking on File > Save As. It was easy, isn’t it?

b) Recovery From Backup File

Suppose after the software crashes you relaunched it and found no recovered unsaved file on it. Don’t worry in this case you can make use of the backup files. However, for this method to work the backup option must be enabled on your software. If it is not enabled by default you can enable it by following these steps.

1. Open the Adobe Illustrator CC software and go to Edit at the top left corner of the dashboard.


2. From here select the option Preferences > General…


3. Now under General Settings click on File Handling And Clipboard. Here check the box that says Automatically Save Recovery Data Every: and then select the time period i.e. how often you want the software to save your file in the backup. The software gives you the opportunity to select time periods ranging from 30 seconds to 1 hour. It is recommended that you select less time for saving the files, 30 sec or 1 minutes option is good.

Enable backup

Once the backup is enabled the software starts keeping the backup of your Adobe Illustrator files. These files are saved in the local storage of your computer and here’s how you can find them in case you want to recover unsaved Illustrator files from backup.

Find The Unsaved Files In Backup Folder

1. Press Windows+R to open Run. Now type %appdata% in the text box and hit on the OK button.


2. A new window will open here select the folder by the name Adobe.

Open Adobe folder

3. Next, under Adobe go to Adobe Illustrator 23 Settings > en_us> x64. Now select the DataRecovery folder.

Datarecovery folder

4. Under DataRecovery, you will find the unsaved Illustrator file. Now click on the file and open it with Illustrator.

recover illustrator file after crash

Once the file is open on Illustrator you can save the file by giving it a proper name. So that’s how you recover unsaved Illustrator files after a crash. Now let’s see how you can retrieve deleted Illustrator files.

2. Restore Deleted Adobe Illustrator File

If you have saved the Illustrator file on your device and have deleted it by accident or it was deleted by a virus attack then you can recover it by following these steps.

a) Retrieve Temporarily Deleted File

If you have recently deleted the file without pressing Shift+Delete then it should be in the recycle bin or Trash (in the case of Mac). Restoring deleted files from here is very easy. Open the recycle bin and search for the lost Illustrator file. Once you find the file, right-click on it and hit on Restore and the file will be restored on your computer.

Restore Illustrator file

The same process you can follow on Mac and restore a deleted Illustrator file from Trash as well.

b) Recover Permanently Deleted Illustrator File

Sometimes you may permanently delete the files by emptying the recycle bin or a virus attack may delete the file permanently. In such a case, you cannot restore the file from Recycle Bin. However, you don’t have to worry because such files can be restored by using data recovery software. We would recommend Stellar Data Recovery software for recovering such files. However, you can also go with other software of your choice as well. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to recover a deleted Illustrator file using Stellar Data Recovery software

1. Launch the software and select the location from where you think you have lost the file. After the location is selected click on the Scan button to start the scanning process.

Select the drive for recovery

2. Now wait for the software to complete the scan. Once the scan is completed you can preview the recovered files by clicking on them.

Preview of ai file

3. After the preview you can restore the file to your system by click on Save or Recover button.

recover deleted illustrator file

So that’s how you recover a deleted Illustrator file even if it is permanently deleted and is not present in the recycle bin.

3. Recover Saved Over Illustrator Files

Suppose you have edited your Illustrator project and saved those changes but now want to go back to the previous version of the file and undo all the changes. It is easy to do this if you are still editing the file on Illustrator as you get the option to revert back to the original version of the file on the software itself. But what if you want to undo change on a Saved Over file, it sounds undoable, right? Don’t worry there is still some hope that you may revert back to an unedited version of your file. However, for this to happen, system backup must be enabled on your device.

If the system backup is enabled then it’s very simple to go back to the previous version of any file. Just select the saved over file and right-click on it. As you do that new options will show up, here select the option Restore previous versions.

saved over illustrator file

With this, a new window will open where you will be shown all the previous saved versions of the file. From here, you can select the version of the file you want to revert back to. Similarly, you can restore the old version of an Illustrator file by using the Time Machine feature on Mac.

Final Verdict

Losing your Illustrator file can be a really bad experience but with the methods mentioned in this review, you can easily recover them back. Make sure you take quick actions as soon as you lose your file because the longer you take the chances of recovery keeps decreasing. Also, if you haven’t created the backup on Illustrator make sure you do it because without backup you cannot recover unsaved Illustrator files.


How Do I Recover An Illustrator File That Was Not Saved?

Restart the Illustrator program and it will automatically recover the unsaved files for you. If you have enabled the backup option then you can also recover the unsaved file from the backup.

Where Are Illustrator Recovery Files Stored?

The recovery files are stored in Windows: C:\>\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator  Settings\en_US*\x64\Adobe Illustrator Prefs\DataRecovery.

How Do I Fix Illustrator From Crashing?

Keep the software updated and install anti-virus software on your computer. This may fix Illustrator from crashing.

About Me

I’m Satyam Pandey, a fellow data hoarder who keeps accidentally deleting files from time to time. I decided to start this blog after recovering all of my deleted high school photos from my old hard drive. With a knack to test data recovery software and see how well they perform I decided to create this blog.

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