Suffering corrupted data can happen to all of us. In an ideal world we’d all have backups of our data, but that isn’t always the case. If you’ve got an Office file that’s corrupted and refusing to open, don’t worry – there may be a way to save it.
You can try loads of different methods for recovery. Sometimes, Office can be smart enough to repair the file itself, while other times, you might need to rely on some third-party programs or your detective skills to hunt down an alternate copy of the data.
If you’re in a jam, then hopefully these tips will help you out. If you’ve got your own winning advice to add, be sure to drop into the comments section and share it with us all.
Built-in Office RepairOffice can help you fix your corrupted file or restore to a recovered version all by itself, thanks to some neat and helpful features that it has built-in.
Open and RepairWhen you open a corrupted file, Office should try its best to automatically repair it. However, if you’re reading this then the chances are that hasn’t done the job. There is a way to ensure Office is definitely trying to repair the file.
First, open the relevant Office program and go to File > Open. Then find your corrupted file, select it and use the Open dropdown arrow to select Open and Repair… This method isn’t always the most reliable, but if the corruption is minor then you may find success in it.
AutoRecoverIf Office is suddenly shut down, perhaps due to a forced system reboot or a power cut, then it can cause your file to be corrupted. However, there’s a feature called AutoRecover that may be your saving grace. If you load Office back up then it should launch a window pane that offers the recovered data, but if not then there’s a way to manually get there too.
Load your relevant Office program, then click File and then the Recent tab. From here, click the Recover Unsaved Documents (the specific phrasing varies depending on what Office program you’re using) and you’ll be taken to the folder where automatic backups are made. Try loading each in turn to see if it contains the file you’re looking for and save it to another location if you’re successful.
Search Your SystemThe original copy of your file might be corrupted, but there may be another version of it on your drive that has either been created through Office itself or the system’s backup.
Previous VersionsDepending on your system settings, you may find that Windows has stored a backup copy of your data. These backups can come from restore points or if you have the Windows Backup feature enabled. To check, right click your Office file and select Properties and then chose the Previous Versions tab.
If there are old versions available, you’ll be presented with a list of them. Work your way through them by using the Open button, starting with the most recent, to see if you can find one which isn’t corrupted and has all your data intact. If you strike gold then Restore the file and rejoice!
Temporary files come in different forms and they may still be lurking somewhere on your system. Load up your system search and perform a search for *.tmp. This means that you want to see all files that end with the temporary file extension. If results are returned then save these to another location. Perform another search for ~*.* (some temporary files will begin with ~) and do the same with these.
It’ll be unlikely that the file names will help determine what the file actually is, but you may be able to figure it out from the file size. Whatever the case, load the files in Office and see if they’re the one you seek. It might be that the list of results is too long to be loading up in turn, in which case you’re likely better off using another method provided here.
Third-Party ProgramsIf Office can’t repair the file and another copy doesn’t exist on your system, it may be time to look at downloading some tools to help you with the job.
Use Another Office PackageYour file might be corrupted when opening it in Microsoft Office, but that doesn’t mean that another piece of Office software isn’t capable of handling it. For example, Apache OpenOffice is a popular and free alternative that may be able to open your file without a hitch.
It’s not a guaranteed solution, but it’s often reported as being helpful. Even if it just recovers part of the file, that’s better than nothing. Be sure to save another copy of the file (plus another in a different format, if possible) if you do have luck opening it.
Use a Data Recovery UtilityWhen you have an Office file open, it creates a hidden copy on your system. It’s only temporary as it deletes itself once you close the original file. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get that temporary file back. And it may be that the copy is functioning, despite the master file being corrupted.
Although a file may be deleted from your system, it isn’t immediately removed from the hard drive. In fact, that space is actually marked as being available for overwriting, which means that data recovery utilities like Recuva may be able to resurrect the temporary copy of your Office file.
Run your chosen recovery tool on the folder where the Office file was stored. The temporary backup files use a different file format, like .ASD and .WBK for Word, so you need to look for files with the right size and/or creation date. Recover to another drive if possible, rename the relevant files to the correct format and try opening them to hopefully discover your data intact.
Overcoming CorruptionLosing data can be a stressful situation and with any luck these methods have been successful in getting your Office file back in full working condition – or as close to it as possible.
Remember, it really is important to create reliable and consistent backups of your data. That way, if something does get corrupted, you’ll always have another copy to fall back on.