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Data security and file recovery have become key issues for businesses in every industry to contend with in recent years.

This is because all companies, big and small, now looking to capitalise on the shift towards digital to unearth insights, optimise processes and fuel growth wherever possible. As our digital infrastructure and reliance on data becomes greater, so too does the need to protect it.

Not only are there more cybersecurity and malware threats than ever before, the nature of these threats is evolving rapidly. The responsibility is on individual businesses to ensure they have the right system security protocol in place to protect their assets from all angles – and Excel workbooks are no exception.

Over the past decade, we’ve supported countless organisations trying to recover corrupted Excel files, often when they desperately need access to information contained within. In fact, there are several steps you can take to recover a corrupted workbook, depending on the source of the issue.

How to repair a corrupted Excel file

When Excel detects that you are trying to access a corrupted file, the program may automatically open in File Recovery mode and try to repair the workbook straightaway. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and it may be that the issue cannot be solved automatically.

Your next best option is to follow the manual process below:

  1. Open an Excel workbook.
  2. Navigate to File > Open and find the corrupted workbook file.
  3. Click the arrow in the Open drop down menu and choose Open and Repair…
  4. Click Repair if you wish to recover as much of the original spreadsheet data as possible.
  5. If you are still unable to recover the original workbook then click Extract Data to pull the values and formulas from the workbook.

Still unable to repair the corrupted Excel file?

If you have tried both automatic and manual repair processes and are still unable to access the corrupted Excel file, don’t fret just yet.

Check to see if there is a previously saved version of the spreadsheet in your save history. Which may allow you to recover at least a portion of the data that was saved in the corrupted workbook.

You can also try opening a new workbook and changing Excel’s calculation option to manual. Follow the steps below to do this:

  1. File > New
  2. Open blank workbook
  3. File > Options
  4. Formulas > Calculation options > Manual > OK
  5. Find the corrupted workbook file and press Open

Top tip: Remember to backup important data at regular intervals using Excel’s Save AutoRecover function to prevent issues further down the line due to file corruption.

Professional support and advice

We know from experience that recovering an important workbook file can be a frustrating challenge for those without expertise in Microsoft Excel. If you are concerned about a corrupted file and the data it contains then it’s worth seeking the advice of an Excel professional as soon as possible who may be able to extract source data using macros.


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