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How to Repair a Corrupted Excel File


This article was contributed by Monika Dadool who works as a technical content writer at Stellar.

An Excel file can become corrupt due to a variety of reasons. When the Excel file gets corrupted, you may encounter different errors or be unable to access the file data. In this article, we've tried to compile everything you need to know about Excel file repair. It mentions the possible causes of corruption in Excel files, symptoms of corrupt Excel files, and the effective methods to repair corrupted Excel files.

Possible Causes of Corruption in Excel Files

Following are some common causes that can lead to corruption in Excel workbooks:

  • A sudden power surge or drop can damage your hard drive, resulting in the corruption of files stored on it.
  • Improper system shutdown could lead to file corruption.
  • Virus infection on the hard drive on which the Excel file is stored.
  • Development of bad sectors on the hard drive where the file is stored.

Symptoms of a Corrupted Excel File

Here are some common signs that indicate corruption in Excel files:

  • You may find some content missing in the file
  • You may be unable to open the Excel file
  • When you try opening a file, Excel throws errors, such as “unable to read content”, “unable to open an Excel file due to invalid extension”,
  • The Excel file repeatedly closes

Methods to Repair Corrupted Excel Files

When Excel detects a corrupted file, it automatically starts the file recovery mode and tries to repair the file. However, if the recovery mode fails to start, follow the methods below to repair and recover the corrupted Excel file.

Method 1: Restore the Previously Saved Version of the Excel File

In Excel, an Auto-Recover feature saves a version of the file automatically. If this option is enabled, you can quickly restore the last saved version of the Excel workbook. To restore the previously saved version, follow these steps:

  • Open the corrupted Excel file (if you can open it).
  • Navigate to File > Info > Manage Workbook.

Click on Manage Workbook under Info Tab in File Menu

  • Select the Recover Unsaved Workbooks
  • Choose the available recent auto-saved file version and then click Open.

Method 2: Turn off Protected View

You may not be able to open the Excel workbook if the protected view settings is enabled. By default, Excel activates “protected view” to prevent opening an infected file. You can disable this setting to fix the issue. Follow these steps:

  • Open Microsoft Excel.
  • Navigate to File > Options.
  • On the Excel Options wizard, click the Trust Center

Excel Option Window

  • Unmark all the options below Protected View and click

Protected View Tab in Trust Center Window

Now try to open the Excel file and check if the issue is resolved.

Method 3: Repair Office Installation

Many users have reported that they cannot access the Excel workbook due to damaged/corrupted Office installation. To fix the issue, you can repair the Office installation using the below steps:

  • Open your system's .
  • Click on Uninstall a program option under the Programs tab.
  • Right-click the Microsoft Office program and then click the Change tab.
  • Select the Repair option.
  • Click Continue and follow the instructions to complete the process.

Method 4: Set the Calculation Option in Excel as Manual

Excel has default settings enabled to refresh the Excel files. It recalculates each formula and function in the file even when you make minor changes. If your workbook contains many formulas, it can slow down the processing. Sometimes, it may prevent you from opening the file. In such a case, you can switch the calculation settings from automatic to manual. Here are the steps:

  • Go to File > New.
  • Click on Blank Workbook that you see under the Available Templates tab.
  • Next, go to File and then click Options.
  • Click the Formulas category and choose the Manual option below the Calculation options.
  • Click OK.
  • Select Open on the File menu, choose the Excel file, and then click Open.


Method 5: Run the Open and Repair Utility

Excel has a built-in Open and Repair utility to help you repair corrupt Excel workbooks. To use the utility, follow the below steps:

  • Go to File > Open. In the Open dialog box, click on the corrupted Excel file. 
  • Click the arrow next to the Open option and then select Open and Repair from the dropdown.

Open and Repair button

  • Click on the Repair option to recover as much data from the file as possible.

Method 6: Use a Professional Excel Repair Tool

If none of the above methods works, you can use a reliable third-party Excel repair tool, such as Stellar Repair for Excel. The tool can repair severely corrupted Excel files and restore all the data without changing the original formatting. The tool is user-friendly, easy to install, and compatible with all versions of Microsoft Excel. It can help you resolve errors due to corruption in Excel files, such as ‘The file is corrupted and cannot be opened in Excel, ‘unable to open an Excel file due to invalid extension', and others.

How to Prevent Corruption in Excel Files?

Excel files are prone to corruption. Here are some preventive measures you can take to avoid corruption in Excel files:

  • Unexpected power failure can interrupt the file-saving process and cause corruption in the file. To prevent this, habitually save your file and close all Excel files as soon as your work is done. And use a reliable UPS.
  • You should timely check the signs of hard drive failure to prevent its sudden failure.
  • Large files may contain formulas and links. An incorrect formula or broken link can corrupt the file. So, prevent adding unnecessary links or formulas to your file.
  • Always keep a backup of all important Excel files to prevent data loss.


Above, we have mentioned some reliable methods to repair and recover corrupted Excel files. You can use Microsoft's in-built utility to improve the corrupt Excel file. If none of the methods works, you can try a third-party Excel repair software, such as Stellar Repair for Excel. It is an advanced tool that can fix severely corrupted Excel files and restore everything to a new Excel file with 100% integrity.

About the author

Monika Dadool is a technical content writer at Stellar. She writes about Database Repair software, QuickBooks, Sage50, MySQL Database, Active Directory, e-mail recovery, , Pattern Recognition, and Machine learning. She loves researching, exploring new technology, and Developing engaging technical blogs that help organizations or Database Administrators fix multiple issues. When she isn't creating content, she is busy on platforms, watching web series, reading books, and searching for food recipes.

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