Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for businesses. Over the last few of decades, it has become an integral part of most business organizations around the world. This popular spreadsheet software is commonly used for financially-related activities. Microsoft Excel has great features which other spreadsheet software may not have. But an Excel file is prone to corruption, and this is the only drawback. In this post, we’re going to discuss the most common reasons of corrupt Excel file. Also, we’ll learn how to repair Excel file manually.
Corrupt Excel file. Why?
Some of the most common reasons behind a corrupt Excel file are:
Viruses and bugs
Behind file corruption, a computer virus is the most common reason. It’s a type of malicious software program, also known as malware. A computer virus can modify other software programs as well as the files created by them. How? A malware replicates itself and inserts its own code into other software programs. This will cause corruption in computer files. An Excel file is not immune to virus attacks. Also, the internal bugs of Excel program are very harmful to its files.
If you’re not using a UPS device, system power failure often takes place and it can cause a severe damage. How? A computer system needs sufficient time to be turned off. But if it shuts down abruptly due to power failure or any other reason, it may put your data at high risk. It may lead to situations like data loss or corruption. While working on an Excel spreadsheet, if the system shuts down abruptly, it may corrupt the file. Next time you’ll open the file, it’s likely to be corrupt.
The collision of software applications with one another is very natural. And such action can cause software malfunction. Software malfunction can lead to file corruption and data loss. If Microsoft Excel collides with any other software application, it might be harmful to MS Excel program as well as its files. Sometimes, software malfunction also occurs due to the internal bugs of the software application.
Storage media failure
Storage media, be it internal or external, stores your data. Any sort of error in the storage media can cause a great loss. If the Excel files are stored on a storage media, and due to any reason if storage media failure occurs, it may put Excel files at high risk of corruption.
Abruptly closing Excel program
If you close any software application abruptly, it may cause harmful effects especially when you’re working on a file. Next time you open the file, you’ll find it corrupt or inaccessible. System power failure is the primary reason behind this situation. Closing the Excel program abruptly can cause corruption in Excel files.
Human errors: A human error might be anything, i.e. a mistake done by you. Human errors include:
- Adding invalid content to Excel files;
- Abruptly closing Excel program while working on a file;
- Modifying or deleting system files;
- Installing software applications downloaded from unauthorized sources; etc.
These are the most common and highly responsible for a corrupt Excel file. Whenever corruption occurs in Excel files, you’re likely to receive error messages. Generally, the error messages report the issues within the Excel file.
List of common error messages
Whenever corruption occurs in Excel files, you’re likely to receive error messages. Generally, the error messages report the issues within the Excel file. Here’s the list of some common error messages which you may encounter while opening a corrupt Excel file:
- “The file is corrupt and cannot be opened”.
- “Unable to read file”.
- “Microsoft Excel has encountered a problem and needs to close”.
- “This file is not in a recognizable format”.
- “ABC.xls file cannot be accessed. The file may be read-only”.
- “Excel found unreadable content in ABC.xls”.
- “The file name is not valid”.
If you’re receiving any of these error messages, this means the Excel file you’re trying to open is corrupt. You’re lucky if you have the backup. You should use the backup to restore Excel file from it. If you take regular backup of your Excel files, then you can restore them with ease. A valid backup file plays the role of a lifesaver at the time of data loss due to accidental deletion or corruption. But if you don’t have any valid backup file, then you have to repair Excel file.
How to repair Excel file?
In order to access the Excel files’ data, you need to repair Excel file. There are few easy manual tricks which you can use here to repair Excel file. The manual tricks I’m sharing below don’t require any 3rd party software.
Solution #1 – Open and Repair Excel File
Microsoft provides a built-in repair feature in Excel program, “Open and Repair”. It can repair Excel file and open it with no problem.
Step 1: First, launch Microsoft Excel on your system. Don’t open the corrupt Excel file.
Step 2: On the taskbar, click the File tab > Open. Or simply press Ctrl + O.
Step 3: On the Open dialog box, browse to the path where the corrupt Excel file is stored. Click the file once to select it.
Step 4: You can see a drop-down arrow next to the Open button. Click it to expand the list and choose Open and Repair… in the options. Step 5: On the Microsoft Excel dialog box, you’ll receive this message
Now choose what you want:
- Click Repair if you want to recover as much of your work as possible.
- Click Extract Data if Excel was previously unable to repair the workbook.
You should click Repair to repair Excel file and recover your maximum possible data. Within a few seconds, it’ll fix corrupt Excel file and open it.
The Open and Repair trick may not work in a case of severe corruption. In such a situation, you should try other manual tricks.
Solution #2 -Use SYLK Format to Recover Data
You can convert corrupt Excel file into SYLK (Symbolic link) format in order to recover data from it. It’s one of the highly recommended solutions to filter out the corrupt elements from Excel file. If you think the corruption has taken place due to any sort of printing error, you must try this trick. You just need to use Microsoft Excel program, that’s it.
Step 1: First, launch Microsoft Excel on your system. Don’t open the corrupt Excel file.
Step 2: On the taskbar, click the File tab > Save As.
Step 3: On the Save As dialog box, browse to the path where the corrupt Excel file is stored. Click the file once to select it.
Step 4: Now type a new name to this file, and click the drop-down arrow next to Save as type.
Step 5: Select SYLK (Symbolic Link) in the list and click Save.
Step 6: You’ll receive this message
Click OK to save only the active sheet.
Step 7: You may receive one more message
Click Yes to keep this format, which leaves out any incompatibility features.
Now on the taskbar, click the File tab > Exit.
Step 8: Launch Microsoft Outlook on your system. On the taskbar, click the File tab > Open.
Step 9: Browse to the path where you’ve saved the filename.slk file earlier.
Note: To see the .slk file, click All Files or SYLK Files in the files’ types list.
Step 10: Select the file and click Open. You can now see the file.
Step 10: On the taskbar, click File tab > Save As.
Step 11: On the Save As dialog box, type a new name for the new file. Then, click Save as type box and select Excel Workbook. Click Save.
Solution #3 – Extract Data from Corrupt Excel File
There’s a feature in Microsoft Excel program that can help you extract data from corrupt Excel file. It’s a very useful trick to extract data from the corrupt chart. You need to create a macro here:
- Create a module sheet and enter the following macro code:
Sub GetChartValues97() Dim NumberOfRows As Integer Dim X As Object Counter = 2 ' Calculate the number of rows of data. NumberOfRows = UBound(ActiveChart.SeriesCollection(1).Values) Worksheets("ChartData").Cells(1, 1) = "X Values" ' Write x-axis values to wosksheet. With Worksheets("ChartData") .Range (.Cells (2, 1), _ .Cells (NumberOfRows + 1, 1)) = _ Application.Transpose(ActiveChart.SeriesCollection(1).XValues) End With ' Loop through all series in the chart and write their values to ' the worksheet. For Each X In ActiveChart.SeriesCollection Wosksheets ("ChartData").Cells(1, Counter) = X.Name With Worksheets("ChartData") .Range(.Cells(2, Counter), _ .Cells(NumberOfRows + 1, Counter)) = _ Application.Transpose(X.Values) End With Counter = Counter + 1 Next End Sub
- Now insert a new worksheet in the workbook, and rename it ChartData.
- Select the chart from which you want to extract the underlying data values.
- Now run the GetChartValues97 macro.
There’s one more thing you can try here. OpenOffice Calc supports Excel files. You can use it to open corrupt Excel file. If it opens the file, you can recover the content from it. In a case of severe corruption, the above manual tricks may not work. In such a situation, you should look forward to a professional solution.
Excel Recovery Software
There are many vendors in the market which provide Excel Recovery software, and most of them offer the free evaluation. One such vendor is SysInfoTools Software that provides free demo version of its Excel Recovery software. It can repair Excel file (both XLS & XLSX) created by any version of Microsoft Excel program. Via this software, you can restore Excel file items like texts, formulae, text formatting, tables, charts, graphs, cell’s data, Unicode characters, images, etc. and save them into a new file.
Excel Recovery software is available with the demo version for free evaluation. By using the demo version, you can scan corrupt Excel file for errors and check the preview of your data which you can actually recover. To save the recovered data, the licensed version is mainly required. If you’re satisfied with the results provided by the demo version, then only you should purchase the licensed version.