How to Open a Corrupted Excel File?

Excel 2016
Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used tools as it is versatile and can adapt well for a whole range of functions from project management to financial tracking, and everything in between. That said, your faithful Excel can also fail at times, and data corruption can be a serious problem when this happens.
Stellar Repair for Excel logo

Though you can copy data from the backup files, it may not be accurate, and you'll end up typing some or large chunks of content to the file - a clear waste of time and productivity. This is why repairing a corrupted Excel file is a better option, as you get to save time and effort.

This brings us to the next question of how you can open or repair a corrupted Excel file. Well, here are your options.

Revert to the Last Saved Option

This is probably the easiest way to recover if corruption happens when the Excel file is open. Instead of saving your work, revert to the last saved option, as this will discard the corrupted component. Obviously, you may end up typing some extra data, depending on how frequently you save your content.

To open the last saved version, simply navigate to File > Open, locate your Excel file, and open it. This will discard the changes you have made and will open the last saved version.

Excel's Recovery Mode

If you're unsure where to start the repair of your corrupted file, try Excel itself as it comes with a manual feature for recovering a corrupted workbook.

  • Click File > Open and navigate to the corrupted Excel file
  • When the dialog box opens, click on the corrupted file, and right-click the open button. A bunch of options will open up, and from this, choose "Open and Repair"
    Open and Repair in Stellar Repair for Excel
  • A pop-up will ask you if you want to repair or extract data. If you're trying to open a corrupted file for the first time, click the Repair button. Obviously, if that doesn't work, you can choose the Extract Data option the next time.
    pop-up in Stellar Repair for Excel

Though this looks like a convenient option, the truth is Excel may not be able to repair the file, if the corruption is severe and complex. Even if the file is repaired, there's non guarantee that every corrupted data will be recovered, so you'll most likely end up losing some or all the data.

While the above methods are helpful to some extent, they are not comprehensive and reliable. Most times, you may end up typing some content into the file, which is not only time-consuming but also error-prone.

Use Microsoft Office's Recovery Tool

The Microsoft Office Suite comes with a recovery tool that can help if the Excel Recovery Mode is not successful.

To access this recovery tool,

  • Go to Windows > Microsoft Office > Microsoft Office Tools > Microsoft Office Application Recovery
  • A dialog box will ask you to choose the application from a list. Pick Microsoft Office Excel.
    Microsoft Office Excel in Stellar Repair for Excel
  • Choose the "Recover Application" button on the lower left-hand side of the dialog box.

This can take a few minutes depending on the size of the corrupted file. Once the recovery is done, this tool closes, and Excel opens. If you're lucky, your corrupted Excel file will be on the list of recovered files.

Most times, built-in Microsoft repair utilities don't work simply because they are not designed to address complex corruption cases. So, if the cause of your file corruption is mild, these tools may work. In all other cases, you'll have to look beyond these built-in tools.

Offbeat options

Here are a few offbeat options that are worth a shot, though there is no guarantee that any of these would work for you.

Change the file location

Sometimes, the cause of the problem may not be the file itself. Rather, it could be the system, network, or Windows Explorer. So, there's no harm in moving your file to a different device. Try to open the file on a new device and see if it works.

Use other Office suites

Though this is also a far-off chance, download Open Office, and try to open your Excel file in it. Again, no guarantees, but may work in some cases.

But you may have to spend some extra time downloading and installing Open Office.

Open in Wordpad

Another seemingly offbeat option is to open the corrupted Excel file in Wordpad to get the data you want. Again, no guarantees, and even if it opens, the formatting may be totally off. Also, this option won't recover the formulas and functions.

Online conversion tools

There are many free tools available online to convert files from one format to another. You can use these online tools to convert your corrupted Excel file to pdf or any other format to recover the data. Again, the formatting will be off and the formulae will not be recovered.

As you can see, none of these options is a foolproof way to open a corrupted Excel file and to recover data from it. To avoid these pitfalls and inconveniences, including possible data loss, your best option is to choose a reputed Excel repair tool like the Stellar Repair for Excel.

Stellar Repair for Excel

This Excel repair tool works well for XLS and XLSX files, and it recovers 100% of the data without any loss or corruption. Coming from the leader in the world of software repair, Stellar Info, this tool is trusted by millions of MVPs and administrators around the world.

Here's a look at some of its features.

  • Recovers all kinds of data such as tables, pivot tables, charts, chart sheets, etc.
  • Preserves the cell formatting and spreadsheet's properties and functions.
  • Repairs multiple XLS and XLSX files in a single process, so it is a huge time-saver when you're grappling with many corrupted Excel files.
  • Rebuilds corrupted files at a granular level, so there is absolutely no data loss
  • Every dataset and visual representation is restored to its original form
  • Supports all versions of Excel, including Excel 2019.

To know more about this product and, how to save your data with minimal time and effort, reach out to Stellar right away!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information you’ve provided to them or they’ve collected from your use of their services.

Learn more