Pros and Cons of Autosave

During my 20+ years using NVivo, I have developed some routine practices that I recommend to all NVivo users. These practices save time, improve analysis processes, and prevent headaches. Some relate to lesser known NVivo functions, some are tips for routine practicalities – all are simple and easy to learn. Let’s take a look at one of them.


NVivo’s Autosave feature was introduced with NVivo Release 1 (R1) in 2020. It is available in both NVivo for Windows and NVivo for Mac.

When creating a new project in NVivo for Windows, you will be asked to make a choice. Turn Autosave on or leave Autosave off? If you turn Autosave on, just like it sounds, NVivo will be automatically saving every action you take in the project. If you leave Autosave off, you will instead be prompted while you are working to save the project every few minutes (you set the frequency).

In NVivo for Mac, turning on Autosave is simpler. Just select the Autosave checkbox in the bottom of the project set up window.

NVivo will also invite you to save before you close or exit the project, if you have any unsaved changes, no matter which program you are using.

Why not use Autosave?

So why would you not want to use Autosave all the time, in every project? There are at least two reasons, depending on the program you use.

In NVivo for Windows, turning on Autosave disables the Undo function. It’s one or the other – have the ability to Undo up to the last five actions taken in the project OR have Autosave. This is not true in NVivo for Mac. In the Mac version of NVivo you can have both Autosave and the Undo feature active in the project.

Another reason: In my experience, using Autosave may slow your work. I find this to be especially true if the NVivo project is housed on a server while you are doing active work. Generally, I prefer to work with the project on my computer, and only back up or save my project to the server. But depending on your license agreement (e.g., you are working with an organizational license) your only option may be to work on a server.

The good news is you’re not locked into your choice. At any time, you can turn Autosave off or on however it suits you.

If you’re not already using Autosave, give it a try. It’s simple. These super short videos show you how.

Autosave in NVivo for Windows

Autosave in NVivo for Mac


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