Sunday, January 5, 2014

Office for Mac Asterisk Bug Fix That Works

Spent over 7 hours editing a paper already past due for publication to have every character turn to asterisks on Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 this weekend. Spent hours searching google for a fix and seems the world consensus is that whats lost is lost. More on that here-

and here-

and here-

But where there's a will, there's a way. Here's how you get your file back:

1) Word autosaves the file every 10 minutes (I actually have my autosave set on 2min). This file gets deleted as soon as you hit save (or Save As... in my case)
- the first thing I did when the asterisk bug hit is save my file as another document (original name f'ed up.doc). Big mistake as the auto recovery file was instantly deleted.

2) Download a file recovery software. I used Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery. Pay the $99 for activation, you know what your file is worth to you.

3)  Click Recover Deleted Files. Go get 8 solid hours of sleep. You deserve it and it will take close to that long for recovery software to run.

4) In the file types- open documents, then open word files. There will be a list of countless word files, all without names (The naming scheme used in the operating system is part of the file system architecture, which becomes severed when the files are deleted. hundreds or thousands of files with names that are gone forever.)  You'd think organizing by modified date would help, but alas all the dates are gone as well. Just left with hundreds of word files.

5) Insert flash drive and recover all Word files to the flash drive (for some reason recovery software can't recover to same drive)

6) Now you have a folder on USB drive that has hundreds of files. Among them is the auto recovery file of your document.

7) How to find it? Several ways.
     A) Wait for spotlight to index the files (they'll have to be copied back to the hard drive). you can speed this long by going to Settings- Spotlight- Privacy- and add the folder you transferred to the hard drive to list of folders for spotlight to skip. Close out of settings. Go back in and remove the folder from the files to not index list.  Search.

    B) Find a file of approximately the right size (Compare to whatever version you have saved thats closest.) Arrange files by size. Keep opening files till you find it. (Tip: Use number of words to know if the autosave file is the most recent one available- more words usually means more recent)

8) Don't forget to update your Word (Help- Check for Updates) to the latest version with the bug fixed (it actually happened to me twice, shame on me.) You'll have to update twice to get to the latest version.

9) If I saved you a ton of work, help me pay off my student loan. PayPal accepted.


Anonymous said...

Took a long time but it worked!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I just really want to thank you for posting this solution. I thought I had lost my master's thesis today when that stupid asterisk bug wiped out my document. I scoured the internet looking for a solution and yours was the only one that worked. The program you suggested was able to recover my whole document (at least I think it's the whole document, after the near-mental breakdown I went through today I can't even remember where I was at when it happened) in about one hour. If anyone here is reluctant to try this program because of the price, just know that you can download it off piratebay for free (although if you can afford to pay $100 then do so to support the developers). It's also worth mentioning again that the recovery did not take me 8 hours like your post says, but less than 1. Thanks again!

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

Glad to hear!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dmitriy,

I've tried everything but it hasn't worked for me yet. Any chance you could help me please?

I have added you on FB - happy to pay btw if it ends up working.



Dmitriy Golovyan said...

Send me a Facebook message, I don't think I accepted that request

Anonymous said...

It must be in your 'other' folder.


Brjazgunova Kristina said...

Hey I just found your solution to the problem. However whenever I am trying to open the recovered file on the flash drive it says that the document uses a file type that is blocked from opening in my version/ or that document name or path is not valid. Do you think there is a way around this?

Brjazgunova Kristina said...

Hi! I tried your solution. but for some reason it did not work. Whenver I am trying to open a file on my flash drive it says that that either file type is blocked from being opened on my version or that document name or path is invalid. What do I do?

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

Not sure, haven't encountered that. I would try
1) trying to copy file to your drive from the usb before opening
2) try to open the file from word instead if double clicking from the file
3) maybe didn't recover properly- trying again, this time recover to a different usb
4) upload to google docs- see if google has an easier time opening it
6) good luck

Anonymous said...

thank you! it worked!

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

You're welcome. We're you the kne that had a hard time opening from usb? How did you finally make it work?

lisa robinson said...

I just had this happen to me. I was working on a very long document 250+ pages and it all turned to asterisk. I did not have automatic backup on or time machine activated. Now I only have a saved document that is full of asterisk. The corrupted document also is much less pages than my original documents. Are you saying that document recovery software can recover my document even under these circumstances? Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dmitriy Golovyan said...

The principle here is finding a system file generated and then deleted by word during autorecovery. If you did not have auto save enabled, I really don't think it would work, however auto save is a feature that's On by default in this version of Word. Sure you you had it turned off?

lisa robinson said...

I thought autorecovery was on. It was at some point because I was able to find a version from one month ago in the autorecovery folder, but nothing more recent. Assuming there's nothing more recent in the autorecovery folder, it sounds like using the software isn't going to find anything more?

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

Run it. Just check your word preferences first and make sure that auto save is turned on. If it is- run the software- your file should be there.

kirra12 said...

Hi Dmitriy,
I have download the program however in the documents there are only a few word document and not my file. Do you know where else it might be?

Anonymous said...

Hi i have this problem and have downloaded the same software! i dont know how to use the software it doesnt seem to be working, please help im desperate!!

Ali said...

Hello Dmitrity,

I am extremely anxious. Please help me if you can. I have been writing my PHD thesis, and I went over 150 pages, however, I forgot to save the last 50 pages or so. I have encountered this stupid asterisk bug and so I immediately close the word ( as undo did not work). I clicked on the option " do not save" and quite. Once the file was launched again. I lost more than 50 pages of work. I got extremely panic and I went to the "Office 2011 auto recovery" folder hoping that I can retrieve my file, but the cruel fact is I did not find any file there for my last progress. I could only see the file that I saved last time, which is only about 96 pages (not 150 pages). I tried to disperately search for a solution in google, but most comments agree that it is lost. The only comment that gave me hope is yours. I downloaded your software (stellar pheneox) and I tried to scan for all files in the hard drive, but I could only see existing files or deleted files in the trash with their names and date, but none of them relevant. I could not see files without names as you suggested. Please help me if you can, I will be very grateful to you. I appreciate your time to read my comment

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

Facebook me

Anonymous said...

In step 3 you state that I need to click recover deleted files, but I am not really sure to which option you are exactly referring to?

Sarah Evans said...

Thank you thank you so much, Dmitriy! You saved me so much trouble!!! Even the reps from Stellar Phoenix said it couldn't be done when I called for help but I kept on trying because I knew you had done it and I finally got it to work!

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

That's great news, Sarah!

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

It sounds like a problem with the file system, I'd try to recover to a different USB drive.

Mamoon said...

Cant say how grateful I am as you saved my day. My deadline for submission is in 2 days & I was just about to lose more than a 2 weeks worth of data. It really worked easily & as someone else mentioned as well, It took me under an hour to retrieve the document back from the instructions you provided. Again many thanks !!

tobi soyemi said...

Hi, thanks for this!i have tried your method but I couldn't recover the exact file while I was able to recover a document I was before. Am performing advance recovery,hopefully it works, any suggestions

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Worked perfectly! Saved a major assignment from going to hell. Will spread the word, wherever I can.

Anonymous said...

This happened to me. I felt the overwhelming desire to visit Microsoft in person, even though it was my fault for not having a cloud backup and keeping my software updated.

Instead I used your solution as specified. It worked perfectly. I recovered my document. I backed it up to the cloud. I updated my Word installation.

One comment. Your instructions say "3) Click Recover Deleted Files." The version I bought has four options after that. I studied them a while and eventually picked "Raw" and it ran overnight. The other three might have worked also and been much faster. You might indicate in your original post which option you used.

I donated $50 to your student loan fund.

Thanks for posting your solution.

Dmitriy Golovyan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Peet said...

Hello Dmitry,
You are a god-send for posting this solution. I lost my file due to the asterisk bug and didn't have back-up on. I am waiting for Stellar to go through my deleted files now. I WOULD BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO PAY YOU FOR YOUR TIME IF I NEED HELP WITH THIS TOMORROW, and am more than happy to contribute to your paypal this evening if it works.

Feel free to FB friend me.

Melissa Peet said...

Hello Dmitry,
I am using Stellar now and it doesn't seem to be working. I am MORE THAN HAPPY to pay you for your time if you can assist me.

Dmitriy Golovyan said...

Add me on fb

Rachel said...

Hi Dmitriy,

I tried your method and retrieved all the recovery files but amongst them remains the file with the asterisks as if the asterisks had overridden all the words in the initial file.

What happened was, while I was typing, I hit 'Save', and then suddenly the asterisks appeared, and I stupidly hit 'Save' out of habit using keyboard shortcuts. I closed Word and reopened the file only for it to remain the asterisks file.

After recovering, I couldn't find my initial file either. Can you please help me with this?

Dave said...

Oh dear lord, my master thesis just turned into *****.
As you I saved, unfortunately. And my latest seprate file copy is one week of 15 hour days of working time on the file. The entire introductory into the thesis is crap. So now I hope so much that it will work...

Elissa said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH! This saved me from having to rewrite a 29 page paper (due before finals, but I would have had to rewrite it after finals with a completely fried brain and broken spirit).

A few things I encountered, shared in hopes of helping someone else :)

When it was time for the third step, "Click Recover Deleted Files," the version I bought had four options. The option that worked for me was "Raw." (The first option I tried did not work, recovering only named files that I'm pretty sure I could have found without the software, including the asterisk version of my doc. So if that's where you're at, don't freak out. Just run again using the "Raw" option--but, fair warning, it does take a LONG time.)

The recovered files (after using the "Raw" option) had strings of numbers as their names. Since the old name/date data was gone, I used file size to try to find the right files. Once you locate one file that's in the neighborhood of the saved draft you're hoping to find, you can then use the file names to help you as all my recent drafts had the same numbers at the beginning of the string.

Finally, I was unable to save the file after moving it from the zip drive to my desktop, but the simple fix of selecting all and copying it into a new doc worked.

Once again, THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! And thanks to everyone who commented with their own experience and tips.

Ryan from Australia said...


Lost 85 pages worth of anatomy notes, about 2 weeks before my exam.

Paid the money for the phoenix program which worked.

Don't doubt this method, it works! Completely worth the $113 Australian Dollars for the program.