How to Repair Microsoft Access Database File and Recover Data

Summary: In this post, you’ll find some manual steps on ‘how to repair Microsoft Access database file and recover data’. In addition, the post will help you understand the common reasons behind MS Access database corruption. Also, you’ll find an automated solution to repair corrupt Access database by using specialized Access Repair software. 

MS Access is Microsoft’s proprietary Database Management System (DBMS) that is efficient and user-friendly. The ease of use makes it a preferred choice for many organizations. However, Access database files are often plagued by corruption, which can pose a threat to the extremely vital data present in them.

TIP! Don’t forget to check out this MDB repair article if you are using MS Access 2003 or lower versions.

What Causes Access Database Corruption?

Corruption in Access database usually occurs when errors are found in the underlying binary file format of the database. When that happens, you may face random errors or difficulty in using the database. Some other reasons behind Access database corruption are as follows:

Tip: Troubleshooting corruption in the MS Access database manually may take significant time, increasing the risk of data loss. Use Stellar Repair for MS Access software to quickly repair corrupt Access database and recover all its objects like tables, queries, forms, reports, and other objects. Download the free trial version of the software to validate the accuracy of recoverable data.

  1. Frequently Editing Data in Memo Fields

Frequent editing of data in Memo fields increases the chances of Access database corruption. It mostly results from a problem with a VBA module and does not pose a risk of data loss. However, it does pose a risk of database design damage.

  1. Interruption when Changing Data

Interruption when making changes to data may cause corruption in the Access database file. You can repair the Access database file, but some data may be missing after the repair is complete.

  1. Virus Infection

If a Virus infects a file needed by the Access database and once that file is used when the database opens, the infection will spread to the database and corrupts it.

  1. Hardware Failure

Hardware failure such as lost packets on network cards and bad sectors on hard drives can cause Microsoft Access application to crash, which may also lead to data loss.

  1. Improperly Designed Plug-ins

Installing third-party plug-ins in Access can also corrupt the db, if they are not properly designed. Essentially, plug-ins run in the same memory space as Microsoft Access does. And so, a plug-in crash can also cause the application to crash, leading to database corruption.

  1. Jet Database Engine Version Conflicts

If multiple users of the same database have different Jet service packs and updates installed, minor differences in the mdb file format and file-locking mechanisms can cause database corruption.

  1. Software Bugs

A few bugs in Access and Jet software are, sometimes themselves, responsible for corruption.

  1. Abrupt System Shutdown

Though it happens very rarely, improper shutdown of the system while some activity is being performed on the database can lead to its corruption.

Also read: Top 10 Access Database Corruption Causes

How to Repair Corrupt Access Database?

You can either try repairing the database manually or by using DIY (do-it-yourself) software.

Steps to Repair Access Database and Recover Objects Manually

Step 1: Restore the Database from a Backup File

You can restore the Access database and recover its data from a good known backup copy. This is why backups are very important!

Perform these steps to restore Access db from backup:

  1. Open File Explorer, select and copy the backup copy.
  2. Move the copied file to the same location where the corrupt database file is saved.
  3. When prompted, replace the existing db file with the backup copy.

For detailed information on restoring and backing up Access database, read this: How to Backup and Restore Access Database?

Step 2: Delete Microsoft Access Lock Information (.ldb)  Files

An .LDB file gets created when an Access db is opened or accessed for shared use (i.e. in a multi-user environment). The file has same name as that of the Access database, but is saved with an .ldb extension. The file helps in keeping track of all active users accessing the database.

When a user who last uses the database closes the database file, the lock file is deleted automatically. But, it might not get deleted if the user doesn’t have delete permissions to the Access database (.mdf) file or the database is corrupt.

Deleting the .ldb file is important to remove the lock on .mdb file if you want to try to recover the data from that file.

Step 3: Use Jet Compact Utility 

Using the Jet Database Engine of Access helps auto-fix minor issues that crop up in the database from time-to-time, while reading and writing data. Due to this, in most cases, you may never even find out that something went wrong. This is both good and bad. Good because your work is not interrupted, bad because corruption can become worse if not treated on time and may cause data loss.

Step 4: Remove all Compiled VBA Code from the Database

This can be done using this command line switch from Microsoft:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\MsAccess.exe /decompile C:\DatabasePath\FileName.mdb

Note: You may need to change the path shown above for MsAccess.exe if you installed it to a different location.

Step 5: Use the Built-in Access Compact and Repair Feature

Here are the steps to fix Access database corruption by using this feature:

  • Open MS Access (not the database file) and go to Database Tools > Compact & Repair Database.
compact and repair access database
Figure 1 – Compact and Repair Access Database

Note: You can also open the ‘Compact & Repair Database’ utility from the File menu (see the screenshot below).

Compact and Repair database
Figure 2 – Select Compact & Repair Database from File Menu
  • In the dialog box that pops-up, locate the corrupted database file, and then click OK.
  • The selected database file will be repaired on completion of the process.

Step 6: Import Corrupt Database Objects into a New Database

Try importing objects into a new Access database file by following these steps:

  • Open MS Access and create a new database file. To do so, click File > New > Blank Database.
  • Next, click the External Data tab and select Access on Import & Link menu.
select access option under external data tab
Figure 3 – Select Access under External Data
  • The Get External Data – Access Database dialog box is displayed. Click Browse and locate the database file that needs to be imported.
browse and select the access database file to import
Figure 4 – Select the Access Database File to Import
  • Choose any option under ‘Specify how and where you want to store the data in the current database’, and click OK.
  • From the next window, select all database objects that you want to import and then click OK.

Note: This procedure will help you Repair Access Database File that might have turned corrupt due to damaged system tables.

If database corruption still persists, using third-party Access database repair software can come in handy.

Use Stellar Repair for Access Software

Stellar Repair for Access is a powerful DIY software that you can use to repair and recover .mdb/.accdb file in a few simple steps. 

Free Download

Follow these steps for Access DB repair by using the software:

1. Download, install and run Stellar Repair for Access software.

2. In the window that pops-up, Browse and select the corrupt file.


  • You can also search the corrupted MDB or ACCDB files from the appropriate drive by selecting the drive and click on the ‘Search’ button.
  • Check the “Scan for deleted records” checkbox to include the deleted records for recovery.
Select access database file
Figure 5 – Browse or Search Corrupt Access Database File

3. Click Repair to start the repairing process.

Repair Access Database
Figure 6 – Initiate Access Repairing Process

4. After completion of the repair process, a confirmation message will appear on the screen. Click OK.

Repair access database successfully
Figure 7 – Database Repair Complete Message

5. A preview of recoverable Access database objects will be displayed in a tree-like structure. In the left pane, all the recovered database objects will be listed. Click on an object to see its preview in the right pane of the Preview window.

Preview of repaired database
Figure 8 – Access Database Preview

6. To save the repaired data, click Save Database on File menu.

save repaired access database
Figure 9 – Save Database Option

7. Select the destination to save the repaired database file.

Choose location to save database
Figure 10 – Save Repaired File at a Desired Location

8. The file will be saved at the desired location.

File saved successfully
Figure 11 – Repaired File saved at the desired location message

Concluding Lines

Hopefully, this post will help you to repair corrupt Access database. Troubleshooting corruption in the database manually requires effort and time. Also, manual techniques can help fix minor corruption in an Access database. You can use Stellar Repair for Access to repair even severely corrupt Access database, quickly and efficiently. You can free download Stellar Repair for Access software and preview your repaired MS access database before saving it.

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