Top 5 troubleshooting methods to fix Excel file

Summary: Through this post, an attempt is being made to find Top 5 troubleshooting methods to rebuild Excel file. Detailed procedures to revive failing excel sheets have been included along with pros and cons of each procedure.

You’re gearing up to submit that financial summary report your boss asked you to prepare for an important client meeting. You open up the Excel sheet to give it one last go-through when you find many of the cells displaying garbled texts and some critical graphs missing. Your next thought – what just happened?

Chances are your Excel workbook got corrupted owing to overstuffing of data or some other technical reason. Since you obviously cannot afford to miss out on the meeting which starts in under an hour and attempting to prepare the Excel from scratch in that short span of time would be unthinkable, you’re left with just one thought – how you can make the failed Excel work!

Let’s check these methods separately:

5 Top troubleshooting tips to Fix Excel File

Here are the top 5 tips for corrupted Excel file troubleshooting:

  1. Open the file in another format or with another application

Note: This method only works if you’re able to open the corrupted Excel file directly. Also, using this technique you can recover only text fields and VBA procedures (macros) of the Excel, not the formulas.

  • Open the damaged Excel file
  • From the main menu click on the ‘Save As’ button
  • Select a location to save the file (preferably somewhere different than the location where the original file is saved)
  • Save with a different extension, for example, HTML
  • Now open the MS Excel application from Windows start menu and go to File -> Open
  • Open the HTML file you saved, if it opens, save it again in XLS format

This method automatically removes minor corruptions within Excel files. If this doesn’t work, launch MS Word or WordPad and from File -> Open try to open the corrupted Excel. You might just be able to extract the text and macros.

  1. Move / Copy the Excel data into a new workbook

Note: This method works only if you can open the damaged Excel file directly.

  • Open the corrupted Excel file
  • Right-click on any sheet in the file and click on ‘Select all sheets’
  • Right-click on any sheet again and click on ‘Move or copy’
  • Choose a new book and also remember to mark ‘Creates a copy’ option
  • Click on ‘OK’

If you’re lucky, all your data will be extracted from the corrupted file and saved inside the new file you chose.

  1. Set the Calculation Open to Manual

Most of us use Excel for the convenience it brings to complex calculations with its automated formula execution on large datasets. But these formulas can sometimes corrupt the Excel when they are used in extreme numbers. Thus, turn off automatic formula execution to enable the corrupted Excel to open. Once it opens you can save all its data to another workbook and continue working.

Here are the steps:

  • Launch MS Excel and go to File -> New
  • Click on ‘Blank workbook’
  • Go to File -> Options
  • In the Formulas category, under Calculation options, select Manual and then click on ‘OK’
  • Now again click on File -> Open
  • Locate and then double-click the corrupted workbook to open it

This should stop the workbook to be recalculated on launch and thus, it may open easily.

  1. MS Excel ‘Open and Repair’ Utility

This is the fastest and easiest way to repair a corrupt Excel if the workarounds mentioned above don’t work. Follow the below-mentioned steps to repair corrupt excel file manually:

  • Launch Excel and go to File -> Open
  • From the list presented to you, select the corrupt file by single-click
  • In the open dialog box, you’ll find a small drop-down arrow next to the ‘Open’ button. Click on this arrow and select ‘Open and Repair’ option from the drop-down list
  • When the Open and Repair wizard launches, select the ‘Repair’ option to initiate the repair process on the file

Note: This wizard is able to repair damaged Excel sheets in 80% of the cases. However, some cases are too complex for it to handle. In such scenarios, you should enlist the services of a worthier software for excel file troubleshooting, like Stellar Repair for Excel.

  1. Resolve Excel file Error with Excel repair software

If you’ve tried all the above techniques but in vain, avoid wasting any more time and employ the one trick which will work for sure. Download Stellar Repair for Excel software and point it to the corrupted Excel file. The advanced scanning and repair algorithms embedded in this software allow it to find and fix even the most severe of corruptions within Excel files and restore all data to a new Excel.


Before attempting to resolve any issue it is imperative to find its root cause. With respect to this case, for example, if the problem lies within a faulty formula or file format, you can use the appropriate manual fix to resolve the issue. However, most of the time, pinpointing the exact cause behind a problem might not be that straightforward. For such scenarios, resolving Excel troubles in the shortest possible time is a task best left to an expert like Stellar Repair for Excel.

  1. Shane B. Hook December 26, 2018
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