This article examines the causes and offers possible solutions to resolve the MS Excel error “Excel Found Unreadable Content”.
MS Excel is a great application for data analysis. It allows users to organize records into meaningful data that can be used to make business decisions. The application has the capacity to handle complex formulas that can process data fast and accurately. This allows you to analyze tons of data efficiently.
Unfortunately, spreadsheets are susceptible to data corruption, especially when you are upgrading from a lower version to a higher one. When this happens, you cannot access your data. Instead, you will receive various errors preventing you to open the spreadsheet. An example of these errors is “Excel found unreadable content”.
What causes this error
This error can be caused by a wide range of reasons, including the use of Open XML when creating Excel files. Corruption can occur on any part of the spreadsheet. This could be in the cell formatting, at the Macros level, or even formulas. A spreadsheet could also have multiple corruption issues. Switching from a lower version of Excel to a higher could also amplify the level of corruption. For instance, it is easier to handle this error manually in Excel 2003 than in Excel 2010.
Approaches to fixing this error
When fixing this error, there is no specific manual approach that works in all cases. This is because it will depend on the cause of Excel file corruption. Therefore, before you start troubleshooting the corrupt file, make a copy of the original file so that you have a backup should your recovery efforts cause further damage on your spreadsheet.
Method 1: Convert your spreadsheet to HTML and back to .xls format
One way to resolve this error is by converting your file to HTML format and then back to .xls format. To achieve this, right-click the target file and select the ‘Rename’ option. Now change the file extension to .html.
A pop-up message will appear, warning you that changing file format will render the file unusable and asking whether you wish to continue. Tap the ‘Yes’ button to complete the process. Now repeat this process but change the file format to .xls and try to open the spreadsheet. This workaround may work on Excel 2003 but not on later versions that use Open XML.
Method 2: Use Open XML SDK 2.5 to identify corrupt sections of your file
You can also use the Open XML SDK 2.5 tool to investigate which sections of your file are corrupt. To achieve this, download the tool from Microsoft and install it on your computer. Now, launch the program and open your corrupt file using this tool. Hit the ‘Validate’ tab on the menu bar. This will highlight the corrupt sections of the file. You can then fix those errors by creating another file. Unfortunately, this approach requires you to have advanced IT skills such as programming and thus may not work for the average Excel user.
Method 3: Use a specialized MS Excel repair and recovery tool
If you are unable to fix your file using the above approaches, it is advisable to use an advanced tool that’s specially designed to recover corrupt Excel files. One of the best tools in this class is DataNumen Excel Repair. Unlike other manual approaches, using this tool doesn’t require you to possess advanced IT skills. It’s easy to use and highly efficient. Once you install the application on your computer, follow the simple instructions on the company website to recover your file.