How to Repair a Corrupt or Damaged Excel File

When Microsoft Excel files (.xls, .xlw, .xlsx) are damaged or corrupted and cannot be opened, follow these steps to repair the file:

Note: Before starting the data recovery process, create a backup of the original corrupt Excel file.

  1. Microsoft Excel has a built-in repair function. When it finds your Excel file is corrupt, it will try to repair your file. In some cases, if the function is not started automatically, you can force Excel to repair your file manually. Take Excel 2013 as an example, the steps are:
    1. Click Open in the File menu.
    2. In the Open dialog box, choose the file, then click the arrow beside the Open button.
    3. Select Open and Repair, then choose a recovery method for your workbook.
    4. Select Repair to salvage the maximum amount of data from the corrupt file.
    5. If Repair fails, use Extract Data to retrieve cell data and formulas.

    Recovery procedures may vary slightly between Excel versions.

  2. Our test reveals that method 1 mainly works when file corruption occurs at the end of the file. But tends to fail if the corruption occurs in the header or middle sections of the file.
  3. If method 1 fails, try additional manual repair techniques with Excel, such as writing a small VBA macro. More information can be found on the Microsoft support page:
  4. Some free third-party tools can also open and read corrupt Excel files, including OpenOffice, LibreOffice, KingSoft Spreadsheets, and Google Sheets. If one of these tools can open your file successfully, save it as a new error-free file.
  5. xlsx files are actually compressed Zip files. Therefore, sometimes, if the corruption is only caused by the Zip file, try using a Zip repair tool such as DataNumen Zip Repair:
    1. Rename the corrupt Excel file (e.g., from myfile.xlsx to
    2. Use DataNumen Zip Repair to fix and generate
    3. Rename back to myfile_fixed.xlsx.
    4. Open myfile_fixed.xlsx in Excel.

    Upon opening the repaired file in Excel, you might still encounter a few warnings. Disregard them, and Excel will attempt to open and fix the file. If the file opens successfully, save its content to a new error-free file.

  6. If all the above methods fail, use DataNumen Excel Repair to resolve the issue. It will scan the corrupted file and generate a new error-free file automatically.