[Manually/Automatically] – Recover Lost/Unsaved Adobe After Effects Projects


If you are an Adobe After Effects user, you know how difficult things can get if the AEP file, especially if it contains a project, goes missing.

Such incidents usually occur when your PC is under duress, bothered by a virus, you forget to save a file, there is a sudden power cut, or the system crashes. If you have lost the AEP file, do not worry. Unlike other users who have tried recovering unsaved and deleted Adobe After Effects Project files by different means but have been unsuccessful, you will be successful.

Even though recovering AEP project files is not easy, we have ways and an amazing tool to help you restore them.

Click Here to jump to the recovery methods.

What are AEP Files? An Overview

After Effects Project (AEP) is primarily a video project linked with Adobe After Effects, VFX, motion graphics, and visual effects software that allows you to create motion graphics, add video effects to an existing clip, and edit special effects videos.

When you work on AEP project files, your project is in layers and assets, and the file is saved in binary format with the AEP extension.

AEP file properties

Because these files contain such important information, they become heavy in size. If you do not know about this, you might accidentally delete them, which can have adverse consequences. Therefore, it is necessary to keep these AEP files safe and learn ways to recover deleted or unsaved AEP files. 

Ways to Recover AEP Files on Your PC

Irrespective of how you lost AEP files, whether you unknowingly deleted the After Effects Projects or lost them due to a malware attack, you can try a few tricks to recover them.

Important : As soon as you realize that you have lost a file, whether AEP or any other, we strongly recommend that you instantly stop using the PC because the more operations you perform, the more you reduce the chances of recovery.

Problem –

I forgot to save my After Effects Project and the PC restarted.

Solution –

Recover unsaved files using built-in features of Adobe After Effects.

Method 1 – Autosave Feature

Considering human errors, Adobe offers an auto-save feature that helps keep data intact despite a sudden system crash.

Note : If the feature is enabled, the file you forgot to save will be saved. Adobe After Effects keeps saving files at regular intervals.

Steps to Recover Unsaved File Via AutoSave

  1. Launch After Effects.
  2. You will see a dialogue box on the screen as the software opens. Click OK. If the autosave feature is enabled, After Effects will open a recovered version of your unsaved file.
  3. Go to File > Save As and save the recovered file.

If the file doesn’t open but you know the feature is enabled, follow the above steps to go to autosave settings. Here, you will find the auto-save folder path. Use it to navigate the folder to find the automatically saved AEP file.

Please open it and save it as a regular project file to prevent its loss again.

Auto-Save Folder Path in Adobe After Effects

Enable AutoSave

Here’s how to enable it. Check if it is enabled and get back your unsaved file.

Step 1 – Launch After Effects.
Step 2 – Go to Edit options in the top bar, and from the dropdown, select Preferences. 

Adobe After Effects - Edit option

Step 3—The autosave option will be in the extended Preferences menu. Click on it.Auto save Option in Preferences Menu

Step 4 – Check the configuration for Autosave and manage them accordingly.
Step 5 – You can change the autosave interval to ensure no changes are left unsaved. 

Method 2 –  Recover from After Effects Backup

If Autosave doesn’t work, you can recover the AEP file from the backup version of your AEP project.

Important : This method works if Autosave is enabled.

  1. Launch After Effects.
  2. Go to Edit > Preferences > Auto Save.
  3. Go to the path you see under Auto Save. You will now have two options: New Project or Custom Location.
  4. For us, the Next Project was auto-selected. We went to this folder and found and recovered the latest version of the AEP file.
  5. To avoid losing it, we saved it. Click the File menu > Save As.

Method 3 – Recover from Recent Files

Another way to retrieve unsaved After Effects projects is to use the Open Recent option. Whether you forgot to save the file or the system crashed before it was saved, you can try restoring it from recently opened files.

1. Click File menu > Open Recent > select the file you want to restore.

Recently opened AEP file_save2. The tool will open the last saved version.

Note : This option will only work if you have worked on the project recently. If some time has passed or you have worked on other projects, try other methods to restore the After Effects project.

Problem –

Neither the Auto Save, Backup, or Recent Files features are working. Also, the AEP file seems corrupted. Is there any other way to restore unsaved or corrupted After Effects project files?

Solution –

If Adobe features do not work, you can try Windows built-in features to restore AEP files. You can restore the AEP files from temporary files or use the File History or Previous Versions options if enabled.

Method 4 – Recover Using Temporary Files

Another interesting way to recover your After Effects Project is through temporary files. If you opened the project file recently but lost it, your RAM might store it in the temporary files folder. All you have to do is find the file and open it using After Effects. 

Step 1 – Press Win+R to open the Run search.
Step 2 – In the Run search, use the command %temp% and hit enter. type temp command in run search bar

Step 3—The folder that opens contains all your temporary files. Do not be intimidated, as thousands of files may be in it.

Temporary files folder

Step 4—You will have to find your project file from these files manually. You can either check the names to find the file you are looking for or check the date and time of the file.

Step 5—If you find a file that is not in AEP format, drag it to After Effects to open it. 

If the file does not open, you can manually add the .AEP extension, which is available, or you can use an online converter to change the format. 

Method 5 – Restoring AEP file Via File History

Important : This method will only work if the feature is enabled.

  1. Press Windows + S > type File History.File History option
  2. If the option is enabled, you will see File History On, which means you can restore data.File History enabled
    However, it is disabled, so you will need to enable it.File History Disabled
    To enable the File History option:
    Connect an external drive or a network drive. When that is done, click the Turn on option.
  3. As the File History option was enabled, your data is backed up. Go to the device on which the backup is stored > review available backups > look for AEP projects > select and restore them.Restore AEP_File History

Method 6 – Restore Through Previous Versions

Important : This method overwrites the current version and restores a backup of the Previous Version.

  1. Go to the project folder > Properties > Previous Version tab.
  2. You will now be able to see the dates of the previous version of the folder.
  3. Click selected version > preview it > Once you are sure you want it, click the Restore button.Previous Version
  4. Confirm the action. You will now have the previous version of AEP file restored.

Problem – 

I accidentally deleted the After Effects project, and it is not in the Recycle Bin, nor do I have a backup. Is there a way to get it back?

Solution –

Third-party recovery tools like Advanced Disk Recovery come in handy in such situations. The tool helps recover even permanently deleted data.

Recovering Deleted Adobe After Effects Projects Using Advanced Disk Recovery

If you find the above methods typical and know that the file is no longer available on your PC, do not worry; we have the ultimate solution. Data recovery is the best way to get your AEP files back. We highly recommend you use the Advanced File Recovery Application.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1 – Download and install Advanced Disk Recovery software.

Step 2—Launch the recovery tool and select the area to be scanned. Next, select the drive and click the Start Scan Now button.

Advanced Disk Recovery_Welcome Screen

Step 3—You will now get a window to select from two scan types. If the AEP file was lost sometime back, go with Deep Scan. However, if you recently deleted it, you can run a Quick Scan.

Advanced Disk Recovery_Scan Types

Step 4 – Let the application scan the selected drive for deleted files.
As I saved the AEP file on C drive, I am scanning it.

Advanced Disk Recovery_Scan in progress

Step 5 – After the scan, check the results and find your AEP file.

Advanced Disk Recovery_Scan Results

Step 6 —Select the file > click the Recover button > and select the location to save the file.

Advanced Disk Recovery_Restore Deleted File

Important : If you try to save the file in the same location from which it was deleted, the product will show a warning message because saving the file in the same location will overwrite data, reducing the chances of data recovery.

Warning message same location recovery

Select an alternate location and click OK.

Restore AEP file

Step 7—Wait for Advanced Disk Recovery to restore the file. When done, you will get a message with details about the number of files restored, deleted files found, scanned, and the total remaining.

File restore summary_Advanced Disk Recovery
Step 8—Click Finish to return to the main menu. However, if you want to restore more files, click the Recover more files button.

Recovering AEP Delete or Unsaved Project Files is Possible!

With Advanced Disk Recovery, getting your hands on a deleted file is too easy! Besides these methods, you have a long shot at restoring a system at the last backed-up point; however, that may not be appropriate if only a file or two are missing. Also, you can recover the file if you have File History turned ON. However, if you are sure the file has been deleted from the PC, Advanced File Recovery is your best shot!

I hope these methods and steps help you out. We will gladly assist you if you face issues while performing the steps independently. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

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About The Author

Dishank Sharma
Dishank Sharma

A creative tech-writer who loves to explore latest tech-trends & convey them to his readers in the simplest way possible. He loves to blend the crispness of technology with a pinch of creativity while curating best practices for the readers. In his free time, he likes to scribble poetry, listen to rap & travel.

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