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This Knowledge Base is primarily aimed at helping you to fix or repair corrupt Excel files including Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and 2007. Besides that, it’d also give you an overview of the symptoms and top causes of Excel file corruption.

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Repair corrupt excel file

Your Excel workbook is probably corrupt if:

  • You're unable to open your Excel file and getting errors such as:
    • The file is corrupt and cannot be opened
    • Excel cannot open the file test.xlsx
    • Unable to read file
  • You're able to open your excel file, but see garbage value/data entries or error messages similar to the ones given above

Excel files are amongst the most commonly used office documents. Corruption of such documents means loss of important data which might have severe impact on your business.

As files such as Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, etc. are digital in nature, they are comprised of several components that contain different pieces of information. These pieces of information, termed as metadata, help Excel files to function properly.

File corruption is the result of broken metadata which happens because of the following reasons:

  • Sudden power failure
  • Improper system shutdown
  • Malware infection
  • Editing the file on different versions of Office Application
  • Large file size
  • Bad sectors on storage media
  • Issues with the Operating System
  • Issues with MS Office Application

Now that you have understanding of the symptoms and causes, it’s the time to troubleshoot and fix Excel file that shows the symptoms of corruption.

Top Methods to Repair Corrupt Excel File

As already discussed, if you’re unable to open an excel file, it’s probably corrupt. But this is NOT always true. You may be unable to open an Excel file and get the errors that indicate file corruption even if the file isn’t actually corrupt.

The methods mentioned here would consider both the scenarios. While we troubleshoot in order to fix the issue, we’ll get to know if the file is actually corrupt or not, and we’ll take an action accordingly.

Let’s dive in!

Method 1: Disable “Protected View”

[CAUTION]: Disabling "Protected View" may harm your computer as it exposes your computer to security threats. If you’re able to access the file after disabling “Protected View”, save it with any other name and enable “Protected View" back.

Step 1. Create and open a new excel file and go to File > Options

Step 2. Click "Trust Center" > "Trust Center Settings"

Step 3. Click "Protected View" and unselect all the boxes. Click "OK"

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 4. Next, open the affected excel file

If this doesn’t fix the Excel file issue, move to the next method.

Method 2: Check and modify “Component Services” settings

[CAUTION]: Modifying the “Component Services” settings will make some registry changes. Make sure that you don’t make a mistake while following the steps to change these settings. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Click "Start" at the bottom-left corner of your system

Step 2. Type doom

Step 3. Right-click "Component Services" Application and select "Run as Administrator"

Step 4. Expand "Component Services" > "Computers" > "My Computer"

Step 5. Right-click "My Computer" and select "Properties"

Step 6. Click "Default Properties". Under “Default Authentication Level”, select "Connect" and under "Default Impersonation Level" select "Identity"

Step 7. Click "Apply" and then click "OK"

Repair corrupt excel file

Method 3: Check and change the file extension

It’s possible that the current version of your MS Office Application isn’t supporting the file extension of your excel file. Hence, change the file extension to .xls. Follow the steps given below to do this:

Step 1. Copy the affected excel file on the root of a volume such as ‘F’ volume on your computer

Step 2. Run command prompt as an Administrator

Step 3. Enter the address of the volume where you copied the affected excel file. For instance, type F: and hit Enter

Step 4. Run the command:
Ren Book10.xlsx NewExt.xls

Where, Book10.xlsx is the affected excel file with previous extension, and NewExt.xls is the same affected file which now has .xls extension.

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 5. Try to open the file now and see if the issue is resolved

If the issue is not resolved yet, follow the next method.

Method 4: Disable “Add-Ins”

At times, you may get error message which indicates that the file is corrupt, but the actual culprit could be conflicting COM Add-Ins. Follow the steps given below to disable the COM Add-Ins and see if this fixes the issue.

Step 1. Create and open a new excel file and go to File > Options

Step 2. Click Add-Ins, select “COM Add-Ins” under “Manage” and then click “Go”

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 3. Unselect/Uncheck all the checkboxes and click “Ok”

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 4. Try to open the affected excel file

If doing this fixes the issue, one or more Add-In was the cause behind it.

Step 5. Next, enable one of the Add-Ins and restart the affected excel file

Repeat this process for the remaining Add-Ins. If enabling a particular Add-In resurfaces the issue, then that particular Add-In needs to be kept disabled to fix the issue.

If none of the above given methods fix the issue, your excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010 file is corrupt. Follow the next methods to repair and recover the corrupt excel file.

Method 5: Use built-in “Open & Repair” utility

With the steps given below, you can try to repair the corrupt excel file by using built-in utility.

Step 1. Create and open a new excel file and go to File > Open

Step 2. Browse the corrupt excel file

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 3. Select the corrupt excel file and click “Open” dropdown. Next, select “Open and Repair”

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 4. Click “Repair”

Repair corrupt excel file

Step 5. If “Repair” doesn’t recover the corrupt excel file, click “Extract Data”

[CAUTION]: Using “Extract Data” to repair and recover the excel file keeps just the data (formulas and values) of the file but doesn’t retain formatting.

If “Open and Repair” utility doesn’t work, go for an advanced method mentioned below to recover the corrupt excel file.

Method 6: Use Corrupted Excel Repair Software

There are a plenty of excel repair software available in market that you can use to recover your corrupt excel file. But how’d you choose one? Here’s a guideline that you may follow to choose the best excel repair software tool.

Guideline for choosing a software to repair corrupt excel files:

  • OS compatibility – As you may be using any version of Windows or Mac, or may plan to switch to any other OS version of your Windows or Mac system, the chosen excel repair software must widely support various versions of Windows and Mac systems.
  • Office Application compatibility –You must look for a software that supports various versions of MS Office application and so also the versions of excel file such as excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and 2007.
  • Support for File System – Your system is typically formatted with one of the file systems such as FAT32, NTFS, APFS, HFS, HFS+, etc. The excel repair software must support various File Systems so that it can recover the corrupt excel file.
  • Mechanism to view the repaired file before saving – You should look for a mechanism in the software with which you can see if the corrupt excel file is repaired and is ready to be saved or recovered. This helps you to see if the software was able to repair the corrupt file even before saving the repaired file.

One such software is "Stellar Repair for Excel" that you can use to repair your corrupt excel files. Don't forget to go through the features of this software if you wish to choose this one, as it'd help you to make the final decision.

Read: Repair Excel File with Stellar Repair for Excel Software

*Free trial version of this software allows you to “Preview” the repaired excel files. This helps you to ascertain the effectiveness of the software. Once you’re confident, you can activate the software and save the repaired excel files.

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Excel files store important data, especially ‘business data’. Corruption of excel file may result in huge losses to your business. Though some symptoms may indicate that the excel file is corrupt, it may NOT always be the case. While in other instances, the file may actually be corrupt.

In this article, we covered both these scenarios under “Top Methods to repair corrupt excel file” section. Here, we talked about various fixes for the issue including the use of a excel file repair software, and shared a guideline for choosing such a software.

Additionally, we outlined some of the common symptoms of excel file corruption and the causes of corruption. Hope that you found the shared information helpful!

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