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Old 04-09-2003, 08:12 AM
manx manx is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London
Posts: 893
Help! My computer just ate Microsoft Word. (longish)

It's nearly midnight. I've spent the past half hour screaming at my non responsive computer and stoping around the house. Stomp stomp stomp.

And you may be asking yourself, why would I be doing such a thing?

Well gather round my children, for I have a tale of great woe for you...

Down here in NZ it's nearly mid-semester break. Yay! Alas, this means that all my classes have essays due, tests, seminars etc. Today is Wednesday. I have Spanish and Italian tests tomorrow, which don't worry me because all my worry is directed towards my (eep) Public Policy essay.

I had a bare bones sort of essay already typed, so, when my classes ended at five, I headed off to the library to copy extra sources to flesh it out a little.

So I spent the six hours in the university library, photocopying anything to do with Pluralism, Statism, Corporatism and Interest groups. There's lots and lots of information, and finally, (when they turned the photocopiers off) bag significantly heavier, I headed off home to read it all and then knock off this silly, 1500 word essay.

I mean, 1500 words isn't so bad. And the essay isn't due untill Friday. And I've started it. Legend! I can write it tonight, edit it tomorrow, hand it in on Friday and then mmm-mmm, two lovely empty weeks.

Hah. Silly, silly me.

Home I get. I am so determined to get this essay over and done with that I don't even watch Buffy. Now that's focus, kids.

Switch on computer.

Where is the shortcut to Word?

In fact, why isn't Word even on the start menu?

Why, when I use the helpful 'search' button (with that friendly little XP puppy) does it find no trace of word?

Oh fuck.

Word has vanished. And now how do I write this dam essay? Not to mention the fact that six years of writing have disapeared.

I have sworn at my computer, I have threatend it with violence. I have begged it to find that dam program, I have wept salty tears over its unforgiving keyboard.

And still, no Word.

And thus I have turned in desperation to the good people of the Straight Dope. No one has used the computer since me last night. I am positive beyond belief that I did not click and box marked 'delete Word?'. Is Microsoft Word the sort of program that spontaneously disapears from computers? Where has it gone? I am at a loss here.

Help/comiseration much appreciated.

Old 04-09-2003, 08:17 AM
Cisco Cisco is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 17,208
I don't know how to help with your magical dissapearing MS Word but have you tried using Notepad? You bang out what you've got in Notepad and transfer it to Word when you figure out what the problem is.

If nothing else you can just type it all out and format it yourself without Word.
Old 04-09-2003, 08:24 AM
MetalDog MetalDog is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: England
Posts: 104
Do a virus check.
Also, check who you're logged in as.
But yeah, virus check would be first on my list if I had an entire app 'vanish'.
Old 04-09-2003, 08:29 AM
manx manx is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London
Posts: 893
Right, will do.

(computer illiterate in so many ways....)
Old 04-09-2003, 08:35 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is online now
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Maryland
Posts: 34,584
I presume you've rebooted and it's still not there.

Two suggestions for now:

1) WordPad, not Notepad. Notepad's really pretty rudimentary. WordPad's approximately Word 6.0, the mid-1990s version of Word. It should have enough bells and whistles to suffice for a 1500-word paper.

2) There are downloadable freeware Office-type suites for the Windows environment, and while I haven't used one, the reviews of some of them are pretty good. Google around and see what you can find out.

And one for later:

3) If Word is really gone from your computer, and Word is what you want back, you can usually get a much better price for a MS Office suite on eBay than in the stores.

Good luck!
Old 04-09-2003, 08:36 AM
MetalDog MetalDog is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: England
Posts: 104
I'm not actually very familiar with XP but if you need to type in a log in when you boot up, go to the start menu > shut down and look and see who's on the 'log off so and so' option (assuming that bit is like Win2k). Check your profile and make sure everything's as you expect it to be otherwise.

Virus check? Go and buy a virus checker - I use Norton Anti Virus personally, but there's loads.
Old 04-09-2003, 08:38 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,917
My first thought is that you've got a virus.

Go to and run a scan. It will check to see if something's on your computer. Then go to and install AVG antivirus for protection.

If you're logged into a college network, it's possible that someone has put a trojan horse program on your computer. The antivirus scan should find that, but if not, go to

Also, if you're using the college network it's possible you may have shared out your hard drive (I've had that happen around here -- students didn't know it, but their entire drive was accessable by anyone on the network). If some idiot discovered that, he may have gotten cute and tried this as a joke. I don't know if you can track him down, though.

This, however, will do little to get your lost files back. You may need to find a copy of Norton Utilities and see if it can recover things.
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
Old 04-09-2003, 08:55 AM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
KB not found. Press any key
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Central Arkansas
Posts: 55,110
As Metaldog suggested, you are logged in as you, right?

Can you reinstall office?
Old 04-09-2003, 09:05 AM
Maxxxie Maxxxie is offline
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 805
Viruses don't usually make an entire app disappear!

There should be a folder on your hard drive called C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office (or similar). In it, you should find an executable file called WINWORD.EXE.

Try running that and see what happens. If your Office folder is missing, it might be worth doing a hard drive scan to make sure there's no file corruption or bad sectors on the hard drive.

If all else fails... why not reinstall Word? If that's not an option, use WordPad (sort of a watered-down version of Word, better than Notepad because it supports nicer fonts, formatting etc)

Incidentally, if you double-click a .DOC file, does it attempt to open Word?

Old 04-09-2003, 09:13 AM
manx manx is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London
Posts: 893
When I ran the search program, shortcuts to Word turned up. I clicked on them, and a flashlight icon popped up, saying I needed WINWORD.EXE, which aparently my computer doesn't have anymore. The virus checker is currently checking, or downloading, or something.

Thanks for all your help - I'm off to bed now. Who knows, by morning it could have spontaneously reappeared!!

well, it could happen....maybe?
Old 04-09-2003, 09:18 AM
Kal Kal is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: The rearview mirror
Posts: 2,851
I don't have XP, so another Doper may be able to confirm this, but would running System Restore solve the problem?
Old 04-09-2003, 09:37 AM
manx manx is offline
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: London
Posts: 893
So I ran the virus checker program (thanks for the headsup on that, RealityChuck), but aparently the system's all good. I'll go in and see my tutor tomorrow, complete with most implausible reason for a late essay ever.

'Um, I, um, need an extension'
'Your arms are still attatched, so someone must have died. Who died?'
'Um, no computer ate Word'
There will be no response. I will depart in shame. Aw hell...

Kal, what is this System Restore you speak of, and where do I find it?
Old 04-09-2003, 11:19 AM
handy handy is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Pacific Grove, Calif
Posts: 17,493
program:accessories:system tools: system restore

BTW, when you push the start button there is a support center button with all the info you need.

Maybe the program has another name than 'word' or 'winword' ?
Old 04-09-2003, 11:39 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Suburbs of Chicagoland
Posts: 22,337
Try searching for your file at least - use that little puppy program, and instead of looking by file name, search for a string of text inside the essay. If you recover that, at least you can finish it elsewhere.


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