MS Office File Repair

How to Open Corrupt Excel File without Backup

Table of Content

    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.

    Do you have an Excel file that won’t open due to corruption? Are you repeatedly encountering the same error message “the file is corrupt and cannot be opened” when trying to open it?

    Excel file is corrupt and cannot be opened message
    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 methods mentioned below.

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

    Manual Methods to Open a Corrupt Excel File?

    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 a blank workbook in Excel, navigate to File > Open, choose the corrupt file, and, in the Open window, click the arrow beside the Open tab, selecting Open and Repair for file recovery.
    Open and Repair Option

    Step 4: Implement one of the following:

    • Click the Repair button. (This is to recover as much data as possible.)
    • Click the Extract Data button. (This is to recover values and formulas from the Excel file if the repair process fails to recover the entire data.)
    Initiate file recovery by selecting the Repair tab, and if necessary, retrieve values and formulas using the Extract Data tab in Excel.
    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 on File > Options.

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

    In the Trust Center tab, click on Trust Center Settings...
    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.

    Open a new Excel workbook, then access additional settings by navigating to File and selecting Options.

    Figure 5 – Excel Options

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

    Copy the 'AutoRecover file location' for configuration or backup purposes.
    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, you can repair the corrupt Excel file by using our Stellar Repair for Excel software. It helps to repair corrupt Excel (XLS and XLSX) files easily and effectively.

    Free Download for windows

    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 them in a new blank Excel file.
    • Compatible with Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, and lower versions.


    You can try the methods discussed in the blog to open a corrupt Excel file without a backup. Disabling the protected view feature can help you open the file. If the issue persists then try repairing the corrupted Excel file using the Open and Repair utility. Although, it may not be able to fix a severely corrupted workbook. In such a case you can use Stellar Repair for Excel. It is an advanced tool that can help you repair a corrupt Excel file with 100% integrity.

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    About The Author

    Priyanka Chauhan linkdin

    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.


    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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