4 Ways to Recover Data from Corrupt Excel Files

Corruption in Excel file can occur due to different reasons. When you try to open a corrupt Excel file, you may encounter errors, like “Excel cannot open the file <filename> because the file format or file extension is not valid”, “The file is corrupted and cannot be opened”, etc. This will prevent you from opening the file and access the data. So, it is important to recover the data from corrupt Excel file as soon as possible to prevent any major data loss. In this article, we’ll explain the reasons for corruption in Excel files and some easy ways to recover the data from corrupted Excel files. 

Causes of Corruption in Excel Files

There are several reasons for corruption in Microsoft Excel files, such as: 

  • Network connection issue
  • System shutdown without properly closing the Excel application
  • Bad sectors on the hard drive on which your Excel workbook is saved
  • Excel file size is too large
  • Format file is not valid, you can use online file converter tools to convert them
  • Virus/malware attack
  • Sudden power failure

Methods to Recover Data from Corrupt Excel Files

When you try to open a corrupt Excel workbook, Microsoft Excel automatically begins the recovery mode and tries to repair it. But if the recovery mode fails to start, then you can follow the below methods to recover data from corrupted Excel file.

Method 1 – Restore Excel File from Backup 

When your Excel file gets corrupted, one of the easiest methods is to restore the file from the backup. If you have a healthy backup of the Excel workbook, then you can restore the backup file and replace it with the damaged one. Follow the steps below:

  • Open the File Explorer on your system.
  • Search for the folder where your backup file is located.
  • Copy the backup file and then paste it into the folder where the affected file is saved.
  • If you see a dialog box asking you to replace the existing copy, then click on the OK button.

Method 2 – Restore the Previously Saved Version of the Excel File

Microsoft Excel saves a copy of the Excel file automatically if the AutoRecover option is enabled. If your Excel file gets corrupted, you can try to restore the last saved version of the file. Following are the steps to do so:

    • Open the corrupt Excel file (if you can open it) and go to the File menu.
  • Next, click the Info tab and then click on Manage Workbook.
  • Select Recover Unsaved Workbooks.
    • Click on the recent auto-saved Excel file version.
  • Click Open.

Method 3 – Use the Open and Repair Utility in Excel

Microsoft Excel has a built-in utility – Open and Repair that can help repair damaged/corrupted Excel file. It can help recover the maximum possible data from the affected file. Here’s the procedure to use the Open and Repair utility in Excel:

  • In the Excel application, click File and then click Open. 
  • In the Open dialog box, select the corrupt Excel file.
  • Click on the arrow next to the Open button and then click the Open and Repair option.
  • You will see a dialog box with three options: Repair, Extract, and Cancel.
  • If you want to recover all the possible data from the affected file, then click “Repair”. 
  • Sometimes, it does not work. In that case, click on “Extract Data” to recover the data, excluding formulas and values.


Method 4 – Use a Third-Party Excel Recovery Tool

If none of the above methods works, then use a professional third-party Excel recovery tool, like Stellar Repair for Excel. This reliable tool can help you recover all the data from corrupt Excel file, including tables, values, formulas, and charts. Some notable features of Stellar Repair for Excel are:

  • Repairs Excel (.xls, .xlsx, .xltm, .xltx, and .xlsm) files with complete precision.
  • Offers preview of recoverable data before saving it.
  • Restores all the data from damaged Excel file, such as tables, charts, pivot tables, formulas, etc.
  • Repairs Excel files created in Excel 2019, 2016, and earlier versions.


Above, we have discussed four effective ways to recover data from corrupted Excel workbook. However, if the Excel file is severely corrupted, use an advanced Excel recovery tool, such as Stellar Repair for Excel. It can quickly repair damaged or corrupted Excel workbook and recover all its objects, like tables, charts, formulas, and pivot tables, with complete integrity. You can download the demo version of the tool to check its functionality before purchasing the license. The tool’s demo version allows you to scan the file and preview the recoverable data. 

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