How can I recover corrupted CSV files?

  1. Use Unicode UTF-8 encoding
  2. Use another software to open the CSV file or Import and repair in Excel
  3. Specific solutions
  4. Use Notepad or Excel to create a CSV file and repair it
  5. Recover using Autorecover feature
  6. Recover using TMP file
  7. Recover the corrupted CSV file from a previous version

A corrupted CSV file is caused by several factors including invalid formatting, using invalid characters, line breaks within fields, among others.

A CSV file, otherwise known as a comma separated values file is a format that stores alphanumeric tabular structure data but in plain text format.

Such files have data records, each of which are a collection of at least two (or more) fields separated by commas. These can be imported or exported from software programs such as Excel or Open Office Calc, which store data in row column structure.

Among the causes of a corrupted CSV file include:

  • ASCII control characters at the end of line that cannot be printed
  • Separator characters in the text of the CSV files
  • Line breaks in the fields that have no double quotes enclosing them
  • Using invalid characters such as -, (), ., :, * and others
  • Blank lines at the end of the corrupted CSV file that have a separator
  • Long numbers that have leading zeros
  • An invalid CSV file format
  • CSV file not using UTS (8 encoding)

To fix a corrupted CSV file, there are a list of solutions listed below to help you recover your document back in healthy format.

Fix corrupted CSV file issues

1. Use Unicode UTF-8 encoding

  • Open the CSV file
  • Click File > Save As
  • Enter the file name
  • Select Save as File Type CSV from the drop down
  • Click Tools > go to Web options
  • Go to Encoding under Save this document as
  • Select Unicode (UTF-8)

2. Use another software to open the CSV file or Import and repair in Excel

In case the numbers aren’t displayed as required, do not save the CSV file. You can use a different software to open the CSV file, or use the steps below to import the corrupted CSV file in Excel and repair it.

  • Open Excel – new workbook
  • Click Data tab
  • Select From Text under the Get External Data sectionget external data excel
  • Browse the corrupted CSV file
  • Click Import
  • Choose Delimiter > Next
  • Select Comma and click Next
  • Click the column that has the numbers > click Text
  • Repeat the steps for all the columns with numbers > click OK

— RELATED: Excel won’t open files, shows a white screen instead? You can fix that

Note: Do the above each time the file is opened in Excel.

Use FileViewer Plus

If you need to open .csv files (or other Spreadsheet files) on Windows 10 and you can’t do this, you can always use third-party solutions. We recommend FileViewer Plus, a universal file viewer for Windows that can open and display over 300 different file types, including different types of presentations like .csv files.

3. Specific solutions

  • If you get foreign characters corrupted or missing, use Google sheets, or Open Office, Libre Office, Notepad++ advance apps to repair the corrupted CSV file
  • If you get an import error message saying “line 1 has too many columns…”, create a new CSV file with data in 14 columns using Excel, Notepad++ or other apps to recover the CSV data

If the issue is because of using ASCII control, special or extra delimiter characters, do the following:

  • Delete the spaces at the end of the file
  • Fix the extra commas from the corrupted CSV file by deleting extra delimiter characters that separate the handler fields and retrieve the file data

4. Use Notepad or Excel to create a CSV file and repair it

Using Notepad

  • Enter the text data in a file with each of the fields separated by a comma
  • Separate each row using a new line
  • Save the file using a .csv extension

Use Excel Spreadsheet

  • Enter the data in an Excel spreadsheet
  • Click File
  • Select Save As
  • Choose Save as Type
  • Select CSV (comma delimited)

5. Recover using Autorecover feature

This feature can be found on Excel. Open a spreadsheet and look for the Autorecover window (usually on the left pane of the window). The screen has a list from where you can select the CSV file. It works with unsaved files.

— RELATED: The 11 best tools to repair corrupted files on Windows 10

6. Recover using TMP file

Windows usually creates a temporary (TMP) file, which can help you recover your CSV file if its inaccessible or corrupted. To do this:

  • Go to where the Temp file folder is located: C:UsersAppDataLocalMicrosoftOfficeUnsavedFilesmicrosoft office unsaved files
  • Search the Excel files with .TMP extension
  • Select the right one by verifying the data
  • Copy and paste or save it to a different destination using .CSV extension

7. Recover the corrupted CSV file from a previous version

This fix is useful where the CSV files are saved over or replaced. To do this:

  • Go to the corrupted CSV file and right click on it
  • Select Properties
  • Click Previous Versions
  • Select the last version before save/replace
  • Click Restore (ensure restore points are enabled)

Were you able to find a solution among these listed here? Let us know which one worked for you by leaving a comment in the section below.


Was this page helpful?
Thanks for letting us know!
Get the most from your tech with our daily tips
Tell us why!