On the final stretch of a three-hour writing session, my fingers clickety-clacked my last paragraph onto the screen. I was on target for deadline and was satisfied with my copy. After I clicked "Save," I could shut down the computer and enjoy some reading before bed.

I skimmed my article a final time. Completion of this one felt worthy of a celebration, especially since I cranked it out in one long afternoon sitting.

Before clicking print, I read my last sentence twice. Wait a minute... should I use the word "ensure" or "insure?" My mouse pointer hovered tentatively over the grammar-check button before my finger committed to the click.

To my horror, a message appeared on the screen, plastered on top of my ready-for-press article. "Micrsoft Word has encountered an error and must close. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

"NO!" I froze -unable to believe what I saw. All my words were gone. The statement: "We are sorry for the inconvenience," added a shot of anger to my pain. Who is sorry -but me? I don't need their insincere regret; I need my article.

Adding to my misery, the error message offered only one button that said: OK." No, I didn't feel OK. I was furious that I had to click OK. I wanted to click a button that said, "Not OK - Undo Error & Punish Laptop for Scare."

Completely bummed out, I reopened MS Word to start all over. I was met with another message that asked if I wanted to restore my previous document. I held my breath and gave the OK button a skeptical click and my words filled the screen. I gasped and clicked Save three times in a row! All was forgiven.

It turns out that MS Word has a feature called auto-recovery that saves your documents at regular intervals that you can determine. Auto-save is a great tool to help avoid the near disaster I experienced. To use Auto-save, open MS Word and look in Tools > Options > Save. You will see a checkbox and a time-adjustment box for automatically saving your precious documents while you work on them.

In my case, MS Word had been saving my article every two minutes, so I needed only to only retype my last few sentences. I was euphoric and for the first time, believed the phony-sounding error message that someone other than me had been sorry for the inconvenience!

Understanding and using the auto-save feature of MS Word is a great way to ensure that your valuable documents don't go poof!

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