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I am using Adobe Illustrator CS6. My goal is to make 40 A4 artboards for print all in a single project, but when I exit the program and open it again, they get replaced with guides. Is there are way to let Illustrator keep your artboards? If I had to make small adjustments before printing, I would need to waste extra time redrawing each artboard again.

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I don't have access to CS6 any more so I can't check this for sure, however it sounds like you might be saving your documents in a legacy format (before CS6) which might not support multiple art-boards properly, or in the same way that CS6 does.

When you save the AI file, make sure you choose the correct version, i.e. to save in Illustrator CS6 format*

If try to save a multiple art-board document from Illustrator CC to CS3 for example, I can reproduce the problem. Artboards are indeed converted to guides when reopening the file.

*This screenshot is from Illustrator CC, but it should be similar in CS6.

enter image description here

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Sounds like you might be doing the wrong thing. AI does not just replace artboards with guides, there's no such thing :) Make sure you read the official documentation and properly use the Arboards feature: https://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/using/using-multiple-artboards.html

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