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Hours of work lost - how do you know it saved (or didn't)?

I'm gutted.

I'm new to this, spent days working on a design for something very complex. No problems at all!

Came back and started a completely fresh, clean-slate version I was referring to with the group I was engineering it for as "V.2".  Spent 3 or 4 hours on the new design, and was looking forward to logging in tonight to finish up the final details.

Logged in tonight and all I'm seeing are two concentric rings and four magnets that I had modeled up in like the first 10 minutes I was working on it... 

What happened to the other 3 or 4 hours of work?  How did it initially save, and save my first minor portion of effort, then ignore everything I did for hours?

How do you confirm it's saved? How do you know it hasn't? How can I explicitly manually save to avoid hours of work NOT being saved?

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