Simple ways to Open Corrupt Excel file Without any Backup

Updated on March 2nd, 2021

Alexis Llontop

Summary: The blog describes simple ways to open corrupt Excel file without any backup. It explains some manual workarounds that you can try to open the file. Also, it mentions about an Excel file repair tool that can quickly fix the corrupt file and recover data from it.

Simple ways to Open Corrupt Excel file Without any Backup

Do you have an Excel file that does not open because of corruption issue? And every time you try to open it, an error message ‘the file is corrupt and cannot be opened’ pops-up?

Excel file is corrupt and cannot be opened message

Figure 1 – Excel File Corruption Message

Also, you don’t have a healthy backup of the Excel file to restore the data? If so, you can try repairing the corrupt file by using a few simple yet effective manual workarounds mentioned below.

TIP: Performing the manual workarounds can take time and increases data loss risk. But, you can easily and quickly fix a corrupt workbook by using professional Excel recovery software.

How to Open Corrupt Excel File without Backup?

Following are some manual methods that can help you open a corrupt Excel file:

Method 1: Repair Corrupt Excel File

When attempting to open a corrupt file, Excel automatically starts ‘File Recovery’ mode to repair the file. But, if the recovery mode doesn’t start, try Microsoft Excel’s built-in ‘Open and Repair’ feature to manually repair the file. To use this feature, perform the following steps:

Step 1: Open a Blank workbook in Excel, and then click File > Open.

Step 2: In the Open window, browse and select the corrupt file.

Step 3: Click the arrow that is beside the Open tab, and select Open and Repair.

Open and Repair Option

Figure 2 – Open and Repair Option

Step 4: Implement one of the following:

  • Click Repair tab. (This is to recover as much data as possible.)
  • Click Extract Data tab. (This is to recover values and formulas from the Excel file if the repair process fails to recover the entire data.)
Excel Built-in Repair Options

Figure 3 – Excel Built-in Repair Options

If using Open and Repair does not work, move to the next method.

Method 2: Disable the Protected View Feature

Some Excel users have reported that turning off the ‘protected view’ feature in Excel helped them open the corrupt file. You can also try to disable this feature and open the file. To do so, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open a blank Excel file, click File > Options.

Step 2: In the Excel Options window, select Trust Center, and then click Trust Center Settings.

Excel Trust Center Settings

Figure 4 – Excel Trust Center Settings

Step 3: Click OK.

Now check if you can open the corrupt file. If not, try implementing the next method.

Method 3: Look For Automatically Recovered Excel File 

If you have Excel’s AutoRecover feature enabled, you’ll have access to a copy of the Excel file corrupted or lost due to application crash, power outage, or accidental deletion.

The ‘AutoRecover’ feature saves Excel worksheets at a temporary location after a certain time interval. It saves the worksheets automatically and is turned on by default to reduce the chance of data loss.

Check if you can recover corrupted Excel file by following these steps:

Step 1: In Excel, open a Blank workbook.

Step 2: Go to File and click Options.

Excel Options

Figure 5 – Excel Options

Step 3: In the Excel Options dialog box, click Save, and then copy the ‘AutoRecover file location’.

Excel Options Window

Figure 6 – Excel Options Window

Step 4: Open File Explorer window and paste the copied AutoRecover file location, and press Enter.

Step 5: A list of saved Excel files will be displayed. Choose the file you want to recover.

Also read: Excel AutoRecover not working, what is next?

TIP: Use Excel’s AutoBackup feature to reduce chances of data loss, by saving a previous version of your spreadsheet automatically.

Use an Excel File Repair Software

If the above manual methods fail, repair the corrupt Excel file by using a third-party software, such as Stellar Repair for Excel. The software helps repair Excel (XLS and XLSX) files easily and effectively.

Free Download

Read this: How to repair corrupt Excel file using Stellar Repair for Excel?

Some key features of Excel Repair software are as follows:

  • Fixes all errors in the MS Excel file.
  • Repairs multiple damaged Excel files in a go.
  • Recovers chart, chart sheet, table, cell comment, image, formula, and sort & filter.
  • Preserves properties and cell formatting of Excel worksheets.
  • Previews recoverable Excel file data before saving.
  • Recovers all data components from the corrupt files and saves those in a new blank Excel file.
  • Compatible with Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, and lower versions.


In this blog, we discussed some manual workarounds to open a corrupt Excel file without any backup. You can manually repair the corrupt file by using Excel’s built-in Open and Repair feature. But the built-in repair utility may fail to fix a severely corrupt workbook.

You can also try accessing the file by disabling the protected view feature. If this method does not work, look for an automatically recovered copy of the corrupt file. However, the major shortcoming of this feature is that the AutoRecover data is stored on the same hard drive as the original file. In this case, if the hard drive becomes faulty, all data is lost.

Implementing the manual workarounds can take time and may fail to deliver expected results. A better way is to use Stellar Repair for Excel software to repair and open corrupt Excel file without any backup. In order to avoid such situations, it is recommended to create a backup copy of your workbook or enable the Excel AutoBackup feature. A good backup will save you from losing access to your Excel file data, if the file is accidentally deleted or corrupted.

About The Author


Priyanka is a technology expert working for key technology domains that revolve around Data Recovery and related software's. She got expertise on related subjects like SQL Database, Access Database, QuickBooks, and Microsoft Excel. Loves to write on different technology and data recovery subjects on regular basis. Technology freak who always found exploring neo-tech subjects, when not writing, research is something that keeps her going in life. 

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  1. I can’t access my organization employee’s payroll Excel file due to corruption issue. I tried Open & Repair method but it doesn’t work.

    How can I deal with Open & Repair issue in MS Excel 2016?

  2. I downloaded the free app to recover file,so every time I tried to select the corrupted file it crushes just a few seconds after scanning. Please assist

  3. Many times I faced this error and I try to open a corrupt Excel file Open & Repair Method. But free methods are not useful for me.


  4. I have crucial important data (excel) file corrupt. When I try to open this file, it says it is corrupted and file has some unsupported data. If I proceed to open, it says unsupported data cannot be repaired or removed.

    I forget to take backup of this file. How can I recover my important data file?

  5. In my case, Excel AutoRecover and AutoBackup Features are not useful.

    Please suggest any concrete solution i.e. working for all versions of Excel file.

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