How to Use Autosave to Recover Blender Files from Crashes

by Render Pool

January 31, 2021

Has this happened to you? For one reason or another, Blender encounters an error and suddenly has to close, but you haven’t saved your progress before it crashes. Or your mind wanders, and you close the program before saving. What happens to the file and all the hard work you have put into your scene?

Losing hours of progress due to a crash or an accidental file overwrite can be a serious blow to morale. Fortunately, the creators of Blender understand this pain and have created a set of foolproof features to ensure that you can recover that which was once considered lost.

So, have no fear! Keep reading to find out the different ways you can recover your data in Blender when these unfortunate circumstances happen to you.

Recover Your Data with Blender’s Autosave Feature

This will most likely be your go-to solution when Blender crashes. If it happens, the first thing on your mind is presumably the fear of losing the progress of your most recent project. Blender is extremely helpful in this as it regularly autosaves your open project in five-minute intervals by making a temporary backup file that includes all of the scene and its data.

Blender should do this automatically out of the box, so you don’t need to manually set it up. It’s possible to confirm that the feature is active, and you can even change the interval length, by going to User Preferences and clicking the File submenu.

Upon re-opening Blender, you can retrieve that data from the backup file by clicking the File submenu and then Recover Auto Save. A dialog box will appear that shows all the automatically saved files. You can also sort the list to show the most recent file.

Keep in mind, when you retrieve an autosave file, you will lose any changes made since the last autosave. While this feature saves in timed intervals, only one autosave file is available for each project. This means that Blender does not archive older saved versions, and you will not be able to go back further than the last saved interval.

Recover Your Most Recent Blender Session

It happens to even the most experienced designer — you let your guard down for a moment and accidentally forget to save the scene before closing Blender. While this isn’t due to Blender malfunctioning or crashing because of hardware or system issues, the result is just as scary and likely occurs a lot more often than crashes in real life. Once again, the Blender team has you covered with a fail-safe feature that lets you retrieve the most recent session.

Blender automatically creates a quit.blend file that is stored in the same directory that the autosave files are located; but unlike the autosave feature, the most recent session backup only updates when you close Blender. In the event of a crash or sudden malfunction, this file will not be updated.

To restore the session back to the last screen before you accidentally closed the software, simply reopen Blender and click on Recover Last Session, which can be found in the bottom-right corner of the opening splash screen. Another way is to access the file from the File submenu.

Be sure to keep in mind that that quit.blend files, along with the autosave files, are usually stored in the temporary directory, and these files may potentially be deleted when you restart your computer unless configured otherwise.

Recovering Blender Files That You Accidentally Save Over

Another human error is when you accidentally overwrite a file you have been working on. Once again, Blender has you covered with a function called Save Versions.

Every time you save a file, Blender keeps two previous versions of that particular file as backups. This function keeps saved versions of a file in the same directory and applies extensions to them like .blend1, .blend2, etc., with the suffix number increasing according to the number of versions you specify in User Preferences. Older files will be named with a higher number. With the default setting of 2, you will ultimately have three versions of the file, including the original.

Blender performs this operation in the background. You can access these backups in the File dropdown menu under Open. In order to locate these backup files, you will need to enable the backup filter in the dialog box and the backups will become available.

Simply resave the file once you open the desired backup. Though this is a convenient way to keep track of your files and prevent future overwriting accidents, be careful that you choose the correct backup before resaving. You won’t get a second chance if you lose that backup!

Also, if you’re truly nervous about losing data and want to set yourself up with many backups, go to User Preferences and choose the exact number of saved versions you want to have for each scene.

When It Comes to Crashes Blender’s Got Your Back

To deny inevitability is to tempt fate. Programs will crash, humans will err. It isn’t a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when.

More often than desired, Blender will crash at the worst possible time. When this happens, it can be a frustrating inconvenience at best, and a catastrophic setback at worst. But whether it’s a crash, or just an unfortunate instance where you close out before saving, Blender’s foolproof solutions should offer you some peace of mind and keep you from worrying too much about lost data.

We recommend that you get better acquainted with each of these emergency workarounds before you accidentally make an irreversible change to your backup files. And for more tips, tutorials, and information on getting the most out of Blender, be sure to check out our growing list of Blender how-to guides.

Happy rendering!