Few Easy Tips & Tricks to Repair Excel File Manually

repair Excel FileCorruption can cause severe problems for Excel users which include data inaccessibility and data loss. An Excel spreadsheet is prone to corruption due to various reasons. You can’t open your Excel file if it’s in the invalid state. Luckily, there’re some useful tips and tricks to repair Excel file. You can perform all the tricks (shared here) manually i.e. without using any 3rd party paid software.

Microsoft Excel – An Overview 

Microsoft has designed an electronic spreadsheet application, known as Microsoft Excel, available in Microsoft Office suite. It also comes as a separate application. The Excel tool allows users to create tables in spreadsheets in which a large amount of data and information can be stored, organized as well as manipulated. Generally, a spreadsheet file represents the tables in which data and information are stored in multiple rows and columns. All the rows and columns of a table in a spreadsheet can be easily manipulated by using basic and complex arithmetic operations and functions. Other than this standard feature, it also supports programming feature via Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

Microsoft Excel is commonly used for individual as well as business or organizational purpose. As an individual, we use Excel for record keeping and storing contacts (which is now an old trend). But in businesses and organizations, Excel tool is mainly used for business analysis which includes data analysis as it has financial and statistical functions, data storage in a systematic way, creation of charts for business presentation, creation of invoices, timesheet, trackers, etc.

Microsoft Office users can also read Repair Word Document by using 4 Easy Manual Tricks

Files used in MS Excel

XLSX is the new file extension used for Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to store data and information. Excel 2003 and its earlier versions use XLS, while Excel 2007 and later versions use XLSX as the default format. Also, it supports XLS format. Due to its backward compatibility feature, you can open an XLSX file in the earlier versions of MS Excel via Open XML component support. An XLSX file contains rows (arranged in a grid of rows and columns), charts, mathematical functions, styles, and formatting.

Excel File Corruption

As no computer file is immune to corruption, so is the Excel spreadsheet. Sometimes while working on an Excel spreadsheet, you may receive an error message reporting corruption. There are many reasons which can cause corruption in Excel spreadsheets, such as virus attack or bugs infection, unexpected system shutdown, software malfunction, storage media failure, etc.

corrupt Excel file

Common Error Messages 

Let me show you below the most common error messages you may receive on the screen at the time of Excel file corruption:

  • “Excel can’t open the file abc.xlsx because the file format or file extension is not valid.” 
  • “The file is corrupt and can’t be opened.” 
  • “File error: Data may have been lost.” 
  • “Excel found unreadable content in filename.xlsx.” 
  • “Unable to read the file.” 

Have you ever received any of these error messages before? Do you remember how you resolved the error? Receiving error messages simple means the Excel file is corrupt. If you don’t do anything in time, you may lose your crucial data and information forever. There’re few highly useful tips & tricks which effectively work with your corrupt Excel file.

Microsoft Office users can also refer to Repair PowerPoint Presentations with Easy Manual Tricks

repair corrupt Excel file

Useful Tips & Tricks to Repair Excel File

Method #1: Open and Repair

One of the easiest and quickest ways to fix corruption from XLSX file is Open and Repair. It’s a manual repair trick in Microsoft Excel program to repair Excel file and make it accessible. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Launch Microsoft Excel in your system.

Open and Repair in Excel

Step 2: Click the File tab > Open. Or press Ctrl+O.

Open and Repair in Excel

Step 3: Locate the corrupt Excel file and select it.

Open and Repair in Excel

Click the drop-down arrow shown beside the Open button. Click Open and Repair….

Step 4: Before Excel can attempt to repair the file and open it, you need to select the action:

Open and Repair in Excel

Click Repair to recover as much as possible data. Also, you can click Extract Data if Excel was previously unable to repair the workbook.

Step 5: Within a few seconds, the file will be repaired.


Click Close to exit.

It hardly takes a couple of seconds to repair Excel file, and the file will be opened without having any issue. But this solution may fail in severe corruption. If the Excel file contains a very crucial chart, but you can’t open the file due to corruption, you can try a manual solution to extract the source data of the chart.

Method #2: Data Extraction

By using a macro, you can easily extract data of the chart from a corrupted spreadsheet. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: In a module sheet, you need to enter the following macro code.


Step 2: Now insert a new worksheet in your workbook and rename it ChartData.

This time you need to select the chart from which you want to extract the underlying data values.

Step 4: Now run the GetChartValues97 macro.

Method #3: Using SYLK (Symbolic) format

There is one more manual solution to repair Excel file. You can convert your corrupted Excel file into SYLK or symbolic link format to recover data from it. This solution is highly recommended by Microsoft to filter out the corrupted elements from the Excel workbook. This solution is very helpful if corruption takes place due to printer fault or any printing problem. Follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel on your system. Click the File tab > Save As.

Step 2: Click the arrow shown next to Save as type box. Select SYLK (Symbolic Link) (*.slk) from the list.

Step 3: Type a new name for this active worksheet and click Save button.

Important note 

If the workbook contains only one sheet, you have no need to give a new name for it, i.e. the above step is unnecessary.

You will receive a message shown below.


As you want to save only the active sheet, you need to click OK.

Again you will receive a new message shown below.


Click Yes.

Step 1: Now click the File tab on the main menu, and click Exit.

Note: If you receive a message that asks you to save the changes that you made, click Yes.

Step 3: Now open Microsoft Excel on your system.

Step 4: Click the File tab on the main menu > Open. Or press Ctrl + O button.

Step 5: Now locate the “Filename.slk” file you saved earlier and select it. Click Open button.

Step 6: This will open the Excel file. To see the .slk file, you may need to click All Files or SYLK Files in the Files of type list.

Step 7: Again click the File tab. And then click Save As.

Step 8: On the Save as type box, select Excel Workbook.

Step 9: On the File name box, type a new name for the workbook to create a copy without replacing the original workbook. Then click Save.

Important note

The SYLK (Symbolic Link) format saves only the active worksheet in the workbook, make sure you open the corrupted workbook repeatedly and save each worksheet separately.

You may also try to open a corrupt Excel file in other programs, like WordPad, Microsoft Word, and OpenOffice.org Calc. If you can open the corrupt Excel file in MS Word or WordPad, you can restore your important data excluding the formulas. MS Word or WordPad can convert an Excel file’s content into text, and then you can easily recover them. Or, you can try to open the file in OpenOffice Calc. It can open corrupt XLSX files if possible.

Professional Solution to Repair Excel File 

If all these solutions fail to repair Excel file, you can try an advanced recovery tool to repair Excel file. I would recommend you Excel Recovery Software here, programmed for handling major corruption issues which you can’t fix with the manual tips & tricks. It can successfully fix corruption and recovers all standard cells’ properties and other crucial data items, such as graphs, tables, Unicode character, formulae, images, text formatting, notes, etc.

Important note for Excel users

If you’re an Excel user and you want to import all the contacts from Excel spreadsheet to vCard format, you can try an easy manual trick. Read this post for more information An Insanely Easy Way to Convert Excel to vCard Format

Watch the online video tutorial below

7 Replies to “Few Easy Tips & Tricks to Repair Excel File Manually”

  1. I do accept as true with all of the concepts you have offered in your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief for beginners.

    May you please extend them a little from next time?

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Programs, and then click Uninstall a program under Programs and Features.
    2. Select Microsoft Office.
    3. Click Change, and then wait while the change and repair is carried out.
    4. Exit after the process is completed.
    5. Double-click the Excel file that you want to open or open the file through an HTML link as you could by using previous versions of the program.
    That’s Microsoft advice.

  3. If you are still unable to repair your corrupted ms excel file using different methods then you should try some other alternative. The best alternative is to use MS Excel Repair Tool to repair corrupted ms excel file. Using this software you can easily recover and repair your corrupted excel file.

  4. How to Recover an Excel Auto-Save File?

    Enable Excel’s Auto-Save Feature

    1. Open “Microsoft Excel.”

    2. Click “Tools” from the top navigation bar, and then select “Add-ins.”

    3. Click “Auto-Save” and edit any of the optional items. Click “OK.” The auto-save feature is now enabled.

    Using Excel Auto-Save Recovery

    4. Open “Windows Explorer,” and locate the Excel file’s temp file to recover. This file will be saved in the same directory as the originally saved Excel files. In the event of a power failure or other issue, the file may not auto-save in the same location. Find the temp file, which will also be saved in one of the following directories, where “username” is the current user’s access ID:



    “C: Documents and Settings\Local SettingsTemp”

    Temp files are prefaced with a tilde (~).

    5. Double-click on the file to recover. The file will open in Excel and automatically enable the Auto-Save Recovery feature. Click “Recover” to recover the document.

    6. Save the temp file in Excel. The file has now been recovered.

  5. I cannot repair/open my file, when i go to open the file, i have received a massage as:

    Excel cannot open the file ‘ABC.xlsx file’ the file format or file extension is not valid because the file format or file extension is not valid. verify that the file has not been corrupted and that the file extension matches the format of the file