How to recover corrupted Excel file in Windows 10

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
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  • A corrupt Excel file can result in a lot of wasted time and severe data loss.
  • So it's important to know how to recover your Excel data, and the simple steps below will surely help.
  • Similar guides can be found in our Office 365 collection of articles, so take a look.
  • For other tutorials on almost everything software-related, see the How-To page.
How to fix corrupted Excel files on Windows 10

Excel is a crucial program used both by individuals and businesses to work with large amounts of data and organize it using formulas, tables, charts, and several other tools.

However, while using the program, you can encounter different unexpected problems, one of them being file corruption error due to the system, virus infections, or other unknown reasons.

If you face this situation, you can find below several possible solutions that can help you solve the problem.

How can I fix Excel file corruption problems?

  1. Check for malware
  2. Use a third-party software
  3. Use the Open and Repair tool
  4. Restore corrupted Excel file from the previous version
  5. Set calculation option to manual
  6. Use external references to link to the corrupted workbook
  7. Recover TMP file
  8. Delete TEMP folder
  9. Use the HTML format
  10. Use SYLK format
  11. Open in WordPad or Word
  12. Use the XML format
  13. Open the Excel in Safe Mode
  14. Use newer Excel versions

1. Check for malware

fix Excel file corruption problems

It is very likely that your document could be malfunctioning due to a virus attack.

In this case, it might be a good idea to run a deep systems scan using the software you have on your computer.  The program should eliminate any viruses found and you should be able to open the document.

For the best antivirus tool to use presently, the recommendation is Bitdefender.

With Bitdefender, you get top-notch protection against the latest known malware, multi-layered ransomware shield to keep your files safe, plus protection against online phishing and fraudulent attempts. 

Besides, by activating the real-time protection feature, you can actually prevent your system to get infected. There are plenty of other useful features that this product has, including various working modes, performance optimization tools, or safe online banking.

Download Bitdefender, open the tool, and run a system scan, a mentioned. The whole process might take some time. Allow the tool to delete any threats that it can find and also repair or optimize your system.

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2. Use a third-party software

best third party software to fix corrupted excel files

Another possibility is to use a professional data recovery program to restore corrupted Excel files.

The best option in this case is Stellar Repair for Excel.

This is a great software option that allows you to repair Excel data, or at least to extract it from the corrupted files, in the original format.

The tool is compatible with several Excel versions, starting with the 2000 version, up until the latest ones.

Stellar Repair for Excel

Stellar Repair for Excel

Restore your corrupted Excel files to their original form in just a few steps, using this simple and efficient tool.

Free trial Visit website

3. Use the Open and Repair tool

  1. Open a blank Excel document.
  2. Go to File and click Open.
  3. In the Open dialog box, select the corrupted file and then click on the drop-down menu next to Open to select Open and RepairOpen and Repair Excel

Note: To recover as much of the workbook data as possible, pick Repair. If Repair is not able to recover your data, pick Extract Data to extract values and formulas from the workbook.


You can’t access your Excel data because you’ve lost the password? See these 5 tools to recover it


4. Restore corrupted Excel file from the previous version

  1. Right-click on the Excel file and select Properties
  2. Go to Previous Versions, find and select the latest version or the right version before Excel crashes, deleted or saved, click RestorePrevious versions

Note: The workbook opens without any changes you made that might have caused the workbook to become corrupted.


5. Set calculation option to manual

  1. Open Excel, click on File and choose New
  2. Click Blank workbook under NewBlank workbook
  3. Navigate to File and go to Options
  4. Click Manual under Calculation options in Formulas category and press OKcalculation-manual

6. Use external references to link to the corrupted workbook

  1. Click File and go to Open
  2. Go to the folder that contains the corrupted workbook and right-click on it.
  3. Click Copy, and then click Cancel.
  4. Click File and go to New, then open a Blank workbook.
  5. In cell A1 of the new workbook, type =File Name!A1, where FileName is the name of the corrupted workbook that you copied in step 3 (without the name extension), and then press Enter.
  6. Select corrupted Excel if the Update Values box appears and click OK.
  7. Choose the appropriate sheet if the Select Sheet dialog box appears and click OK.
  8. Select cell A1 and click Home and then Copy.
  9. Select an area, starting in cell A1 that is approximately the same size as the range of cells that contain data in the corrupted workbook.
  10. Click Home and Paste.
  11. Repeat to copy all selected cells again by clicking Home and then Copy.
  12. Click Home go to Paste and click Paste Values under Values.Paste values

Note: Pasting values will remove the links to corrupted excel and leave you only with the data by then.

By using the method, you won’t be able to recover formulas, formats, charts, macros, and so on, but recovering the data is better than recovering nothing.


7. Recover TMP file

  1. In File Explorer, open This PC (usually C: )
  2. Double click the Users folder and then open the Default and AppData folder. (Make sure you can view hidden files.)
  3. In the Local folder, go to Microsoft. Recover temporary excel file
  4. Locate the Office folder and then go to UnsavedFiles.
  5. Locate and find the temporary excel files beginning with $ or ~ and end with .TMP
  6. Copy these files and save them to another safe spot by changing the extension from.TMP to .XLS/.XLSX

If Excel Online won’t working or won’t open files, try these 7 easy steps to restore it 


8. Delete TEMP folder

delete tmp folder

If saving a temporary excel file did not work, another suggestion is to delete some of the temporary files and folders on your computer.

These files and folders can be found in C:/Windows/temp directory. Once you have deleted these files, restart your computer and then try opening the Excel document again.

If you can’t delete temporary files, use this guide to fix the problem.


9. Use the HTML format

  1. Open the Excel file and go to Save As.
  2. Choose other formats from the drop-down menu in the Save As Type option.
  3. Then select Web Page.
  4. Make sure entire Workbook is selected and then click on SaveSave as webpage
  5. Right-click on the web file and choose Open with Microsoft Office Excel.
  6. Once the document is open, go to Save As again and choose the Excel format.
  7. Choose a different name than the original corrupted file and press Save.

10. Use SYLK format

  1. Open the Excel file and go to Save As
  2. Choose other formats from the drop-down menu in the Save As Type option
  3. From the options in the drop-down list, select SYLK(Symbolic Link) (*.slk)Save as SYLK
  4. Click File and Open again, but this time choose the SYLK file.
  5. Once the file is open, click File and then Save As.
  6. Choose Microsoft Excel Workbook and click Save.

Note: Using the SYLK format only saves the active worksheet. You will have to save each worksheet individually and repeat this procedure.


11. Open in WordPad or Word

Open excel file in WordPad or Word

Another solution that we recommend is to try opening your corrupt file in WordPad. If it works, WordPad will convert everything to text but unfortunately, this method will not recover formulas.

On the other hand, the good news is that unlike many other data recovery methods, WordPad will recover your macros.

Simply search the recovered text for Sub and Function to find them. You might also be able to open the corrupted .xls file in Word, but the results will be limited.

In order to do so, you first have to make sure you have the Microsoft Excel Converter installed. You can download it from Microsoft’s official page.


12. Use the XML format

  1. Open the corrupted file, go to File and click on Save As.
  2. From the list of possible formats next to Save as Type select XML Spreadsheet and then click Save.
  3. Open the document again.
  4. Go to Save As again and then save the document as an Excel Workbook by choosing Excel format from the drop-down list next to Save as Type.

13. Open the Excel in Safe Mode

Open the Excel in Safe Mode

  1. Press Windows+R keys to open the Run dialogue window
  2. Type the command excel /safe and click OK
  3. Copy all of the data to a new document and open it in Normal Mode.

This method may disable your macros and Add-ins but it is a great solution because you can move the data to a new document.


14. Use newer Excel versions

Use newer Excel versions

Although it seems like a very simple solution, you should definitely try it as well. Try to use a later Excel version because as the versions increase, the ability for the program to recover a file increases also, so you might be able to recover your file using this simple method.

So, has any of these solutions helped you to fix your corrupted Excel file? Let us know in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and was completely revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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