Steps to fix corrupted Microsoft Word files
- Use the inbuilt Microsoft Word Repair tool
- Recover text from any file
- Open in Draft Mode
- Use previous versions
- Open with Notepad
- Rebuild the file header
- Run CHKDSK to check file system error
- Use third party recovery tools
For most of its long history, Microsoft Word has used a proprietary format for its saved files, DOC. Starting in 2007 with the updated version of Word, the default save format was changed to DOCX. Microsoft Word has remained by far the most popular word processing application but despite that, it has its shortcomings.
If you are in the situation when you have an important Word document that got corrupted and you think you lost critical information or countless hours of work, do not let the despair set in. The situation may not be quite as bad as it seems. In this guide, you can find some solutions you can use when you are dealing with a corrupted .docx file.
Before that, the first thing you should do, though, is make a copy of the faulty document before you do anything else. There is a chance that the corruption within the file could become worse over time or that you could destroy the file while trying to recover it. Creating a backup copy of the file now may save you even more headache later on.
What to do if your .docx files got corrupted
Solution 1: Use the inbuilt Microsoft Word Repair tool
Microsoft Word has an inbuilt open and repair tool available since MS Word 2007 that you can use to repair your files. Since it was made by the software manufacturer, it is the safest way to recovering a corrupt file:
- Open Microsoft Word and click on File
- Click Open and select the .docx file with the problem
- Click the down arrow next to the Open button and choose Open and repair
Solution 2: Recover text from any file
If you are unable to recover the corrupted Word file, Microsoft Word also gives you an option to recover text from any file. This will enable you to recover your important data and then reconstruct it in a new Word file:
- Go to File menu and select Open
- Find the .docx file you want to repair
- From below All word documents, expand it further and find the option of Recover text from any file
The feature will try to fetch all the text from your file. If this does not work, please move on to the next solution.
Solution 3: Open in Draft Mode
Another solution you can try is opening the file in Draft mode. To do this, follow the simple steps described below:
- Click on File and go to Options
- Click on Advanced and then scroll down to the Show document content section
- Check the Show picture placeholders box and the Use draft font in Draft and Outline views box
- Go back to Word, click on View and then click on Draft under the Document Views section
- Try to open the corrupt file
Solution 4: Use previous versions
In Windows 7 and higher, System Restore will automatically make backups of your documents whenever a new restore point is created (usually at least once a day). System Restore is enabled by default but if you manually turned it off, you will not be able to recover any data using this feature. To check if there are any backed up versions of the file:
- Right click the file
- Choose Properties and then click on the Previous Versions tab
- Any previously saved versions will show up in the list box below. If you are not able to see the tab, it means System Restore is not turned on
Note: You will lose any data that was added after the last backup was created and before the corruption occurred but at least you will have at least a part of your .docx file.
Solution 5: Open with Notepad
Opening with Notepad will ignore the document structure and pick only the plain text. You can find this plain text and then copy paste it to a new word document but you will lose all formatting and images:
- Right click on your corrupted .docx file and choose Open with
- Click on Choose default program
- On the Other Programs section click on the arrow pointing downwards to reveal more programs and select Notepad
- Uncheck the box Always use the selected program to open this kind of file to avoid making notepad the default program for word files and click OK
- Copy and paste the text to a new .docx document and format it all over again
Solution 6: Rebuild the file header
You will have to open several uncorrupted .docx file with a file editor program to identify the header components. By comparing them with the file header of your corrupt file, you may be able to identify corruption in its file header. You can then replace the corrupt header components with good components from another .docx file in order to fix your problem.
Solution 7: Run CHKDSK to check file system error
If file level corruption exists in the Word document, you can run CHKDSK from the command prompt. You may be able to fix the document and gain accessibility. Or else, you would be able to understand the cause behind the issue.
- Next to the Start menu, in the search box, type cmd
- On the search result, right-click on the Command Prompt and select Run as administrator
- Click Yes on the prompt warning
- Insert this command: CHKDSK [drive[[path]filename]] [/R]
Solution 8: Use third party recovery tools
Several third-party applications on the market are designed to recover corrupt documents.Many third party tools have free demos and we recommend you to use those because nobody wants to spend money only to find out that nothing can be recovered. The demos usually let you see a part of the text and will tell you if it was able to recover everything else. At that point, you can choose to pay if you feel the program will get you the results you wish. Also, be cautious when downloading programs like these off the internet, as some of them may contain malware. The general steps to follow are:
- Download a third party application
- Install the application and launch it
- Browse for your file and repair it
Corrupted .docx files can be a big problem, but we hope that you managed to fix this issue by using one of the solutions described above.