Fix Excel File Error ‘Unable to Save Excel Workbook’

It is easy to work with Microsoft Excel but sometimes, the application may create issues thereby hampering the smooth functioning of the workbook. One such issue is “unable to Save Excel Workbook”.

Let’s take a look at the issue of Unable to Save Excel Workbook:

Instance 1: In an organization, users connected to one of the servers (Windows 2008 R2) using Citrix – a Terminal Server configured with Windows 2008 R2 –and accessed their data through a File Server, also configured with Windows 2008R2. Since the connectivity to Shared Drive was established through a Terminal server, any conflict amongst the server configuration may create conflict in shared file.

This issue was discussed at length at one of the Tech Forums, where the users were unable to access their workbooks stored on the shared drive. The File menu did not work. As a result, the users were forced to save the workbook by creating quick access shortcut or locally on desktop. In many cases, the saving option was ruled out completely.

Instance 2: A similar problem was reported, wherein the users received an error when saving an Excel workbook after inserting a chart in an existing workbook (previously saved) or copying values from an existing workbook. A system is configured with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 10 configuration. The issue arises when the user is unable to save the changes after editing in a saved spreadsheet. The following message displays on the screen:

Figure : Error Message

Further, if the user clicks ‘Continue’, the following error message is received:

“Excel encountered errors during save. However, Excel was able to minimally save your file to <file name>.”

Note: This issue impacts build Version 1707 (Build 8326.2086) and later, and also only occurs with files that are stored locally, such as on the desktop. This problem does not occur if you manually enter values or insert a chart in a newly created workbook.

Plausible reasons for ‘unable to save Excel workbook’ error:

  1. The issue was detected in Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 32-bit, Service Pack 14.0.6029.1000.
  2. Excel version on the user system may or may not match with Excel version on File server.
  3. The issue of ‘Unable to Save Excel Workbook’ impacts only the Build Version 1707 (Build 8326.2086) and later.
  4. In case of Issue 2, the problem surfaces when the user adds files, tables or charts in the locally saved excel files, such as on the desktop.

Methods to fix ‘Unable to Save Excel Workbook’ error:

There may be an issue with the Build version or the Registry Values settings may not be appropriate, which does not allow the Excel workbooks to save.

But, before starting to resolve the issue, verify the following:

  1. The location where the file is to be saved may not have enough space to save the Excel file: Check the available space and save again. You may also use the option of ‘Save As’ to save the file at a new location.
  2. Excel file may be a shared one where edits are not allowed by a specific user: There are restrictions attached to documents and other files shared over the network. Check for these restrictions.
  3. Antivirus may interrupt in during file saving: Antivirus in the system may not allow saving of the files. Request the system administrator to uninstall the antivirus and reinstall after saving.
  4. The file is not saved within 218 characters: If the file is not saved due to the naming issue, then check the character length and try again.
  5. Differences in Windows versions of the local system and those on network drive may cause excel not saved issues. Check that all the systems have the same configuration and are updated to the recently available versions.
  6. Excel spreadsheet is corrupt: If none the above factors have not caused hindrance in saving the file, then there may be a probability of corruption in the Excel spreadsheet.

Once verified, look for a healthy and restorable backup. If backup is missing, resolve the issue of “Unable to open Excel File” with manual settings on local system or through a reliable Excel repair software.

Method 1: Modify Registry Entries

If multiple users are unable to access their workbooks stored on the shared drive and facing unable to save Excel file problem (see Instance 1 above), then follow the below steps:

  1. Go to ‘Registry Entry’. To do this, type ‘regedit in the Start Search box, and press ENTER.
Figure: Edit Registry
  1. You are prompted for the administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Continue.
  2. Locate the following registry subkey, and right-click it: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC
Figure: CSC Location
  1. Point the cursor to New, and click Key
Figure: Create new key
  1. Type ‘File Parameters’ in the available box
Figure: File parameters
  1. Right-click Parameters, point the cursor to New, and click DWORD (32-bit)Value
Figure: File parameter (DWORD – 32 bit) value
  1. Type ‘FormatDatabase’, and press ‘ENTER’. Right-click ‘FormatDatabase’, and click ‘Modify’.
Figure; Modify format database
  1. In the Value data box, type ‘1’, and click ‘OK’
Figure: Value data
  1. Exit ‘Registry Editor’
  2. Restart system and verify if the files can be saved now.

Method 2: Try Google Uploads

If the user is unable to save the changes after editing in a locally saved spreadsheet (see Instance 2 above), then follow these steps:

  1. Upload the unsaved Excel file to Google Docs. Ensure that the file gets converted to Google Sheet format
  2. Check if all the formulae are active and working
  3. Make changes to the Google Sheet and verify that all the changes are working fine
  4. Use the Google Sheets export feature to download the file in Excel format

Method 3: Resolve manually with Open and Repair

If the Excel file is found to have corruption, try out the Excel Open and Repair utility:

  1. Open a blank Excel File. Go to File and Click Open
  2. Go to Computers and click Browse
  3. Access the Location and Folder and click the arrow icon beside Open followed by Open and Repair.
Figure : Illustrates Steps to use ‘Open and Repair’ method

The Open and Repair utility is not competitive enough and may not fix corruption in severely corrupted files. Hence, if you are unable to save Excel workbook after applying the manual methods, then you can search for a useful software-based repair utility.

Method 4: Excel file repair software:

Specifically meant to resolve Excel file corruption.

Stellar Repair for Excel helps you to repair every single object including charts, tables, their formatting, shared formulae and rules and more.

  1. Install and Open the software and select the corrupt Excel File. You can also click the Find option if the file location is not known
  2. Click Scan and allow the software to scan and repair the corrupt Excel file.
  3. Once repaired, the software displays the fixed file components to verify its content.
  4. Click Save to save the file data in a blank new file as ‘Recovered_abc.xls’, where abc.xls is the name of the original file.

See the working of the software which has been declared as a tool that provides 100% integrity and precision.

The Excel repair software takes care to save the repaired data in a new file to minimize the chances of further corruption.


‘Unable to save Excel file’ is a generic problem that may appear due to various reasons. In this blog post, we presented some of the actual instances reported by users on community forums.

Windows updates, the Build versions, the Service Packs of the local systems and those on network drive must be either similar or in sync with each other. Any deviation may cause issues in accessing or saving the Microsoft files, as reported in Instance 1 is caused where user is unable to save Microsoft Excel file on the Network Drive. In case, the user is unable to save the file on network drive then the problem lies with the Registry value.

Another case is when the users receive an error while saving an Excel workbook after they insert a chart in an existing workbook or copying values from an existing workbook. This issue is known to affect build Version 1707 (Build 8326.2086) and later, and only occurs with locally stored files.

When a user is unable to save a specific Excel file, then the problem can be resolved using the manual methods or the software based utility. The mode of repair depends upon the level of corruption in Excel file.

Hence, it is suggested to analyze the nature of the problem and decide an appropriate resolution method.

Comments (1)
  1. Ammi January 27, 2020

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