When opening a damaged or corrupt Excel XLS or XLSX file with Microsoft Excel, you see the following error message:

‘filename.xls’ cannot be accessed. The file may be read-only, or you may be trying to access a read-only location. Or, the server the document is stored on may not be responding.

where ‘filename.xls’ is the corrupt Excel file name.

Below is a sample screenshot of the error message:

'filename.xls' cannot be accessed.

Precise Explanation:

When an Excel XLS or XLSX file is corrupt and Microsoft Excel cannot recognize it, the Excel may report this error. The error information is misleading since it says the file cannot be accessed because it is read-only. However, even the actual file is NOT read-only, if it is corrupt, Excel will still report this error by mistake.


You can first check if the file is read-only, on a read only location, or on a remote server. If the file is on a read only location or on a remote server, then try to copy the file from the read-only location or server to a writable drive on the local computer. The make sure you remove the read-only attribute of the Excel file.

If the Excel file still cannot be opened, then we can confirm the file is corrupt. You can first use Excel built-in repair function to repair the corrupt Excel file. If that does not work, then only DataNumen Excel Repair can help you.

Sample File:

Sample corrupt XLS file that will cause the error. Error5.xls

The file recovered by DataNumen Excel Repair: Error5_fixed.xls