How To Recover Damaged Microsoft Excel File (2020)

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What can you do if a Microsoft Excel file containing your data fails to open? Is it possible to recover valuable data that has become inaccessible?

If you are suddenly unable to open an Excel spreadsheet file with your data, what are the chances of successfully recovering it and what needs to be done? Unfortunately, this is a known issue with Microsoft Excel. There are several solutions to the problem. You can recover a damaged Excel file only by trying out all the available options.

Excel file recovery methods:

  1. Using the built-in recovery function in Microsoft Excel
  2. Opening the file with OpenOffice
  3. Using an online service
  4. Recovering with third-party tools

Microsoft Excel’s built-in function

Recent versions of Microsoft Excel support file recovery. In the past, this functionality was either missing or its implementation wasn’t good enough for real files. This function currently works for 10-20% of damaged files. All it takes is a few simple actions:

  1. Open the “File” menu
  2. Select the “Open” command
  3. Choose a damaged file on the hard drive
  4. Click the arrow next to the “Open” button in the lower right corner
  5. Choose the “Open and Restore” command from the dropdown menu

Everything is simple and requires no special knowledge. For many users, this function is more than enough to successfully restore a damaged Excel file. If you fail to recover your file using this method, may help you.

Opening a file using OpenOffice

Starting from Office 2007, Microsoft Office files share the same format with OpenOffice. Which means that you can download and install the entire package from to try to use it to recover the file.

Attention: a file being recovered with OpenOffice must have an XLSX extension – the standard extension for Excel 2007 (and newer) files.

Using an online service

If options 1 and 2 fail, you will need special services or programs developed specifically for restoring data from corrupted Excel files.

There are several affordable online recovery services for Microsoft Excel files. The most convenient and affordable one (just $5 per file) is available here:

Just upload your file to the service and wait for the result. Statistics collected by the developers of the service promise a 40% success rate for damaged Excel files.

The key benefit of the service is that it works on all operating systems (Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and others) and all device types (computer, tablet, phone, etc.).

Recovery using third-party tools

If you have lots of corrupted Excel files or you don’t want to share them with anyone for confidentiality reasons, use specialized third-party tools (not from Microsoft).

One of such tools is Recovery Toolbox for Excel:

The tool has been developed and distributed since the early 2000s, offers a multi-language interface (including Russian), and recovers all types of Excel files of all versions, going back to the now-exotic Excel 97.

Attention: the tool works on Windows-based computers only.

Useful tips on using Microsoft Excel

Keep the auto-save function enabled while working in Microsoft Excel. This will help avoid situations where a computer crash results in losing hours’ worth of work:


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