How to Repair a Damaged Excel Spreadsheet

A damaged or corrupted file can be an enervating experience. We all trust our computers to store the product of our sweat and tears, and to lose it all on a bug or complication can be a nightmare. Thankfully, software engineers are sensitive to this problem, and have installed safeguards into the Microsoft Excel program. In fact, there are multiple ways to recover information from a damaged or corrupted Excel spreadsheet. Document recovery, repair commands, macros, and HTML tricks can help salvage your data. Each of these methods can be used individually or in tandem to retrieve the hard earned, diligently crafted work from the depths of computerized abyss.

Method 1: Open and Repair
This is the most common method used for recovering damaged Excel files. Simply open a document as you normally would by opening the file menu and finding the file. However, instead of clicking the “Open” button, click on the drop down box next to it. You will see a number of options, the last of which being “Open and Repair.” Select this option and the program will then shift to repair mode. When prompted click “Repair” and Excel will find your most recent version of the document.

If Excel fails to repair the document, repeat the process by clicking the drop down box and clicking “Open and Repair.” However, when prompted click the “Extract Data” button in lieu or “Repair.” This will forgo the repair process and instead attempt to extract whatever information it can from the corrupted file. If there are formulas involved in your spreadsheet, Excel will ask if you would like to recover them or convert them into hard numerical values. If it encounters any errors in the process, click “Yes” to continue opening it. You can peruse the document afterward and fix any relevant discrepancies. The important thing is salvaging what you can. When finished, save the spreadsheet.

Method 2: Use the Microsoft Office Application Recovery Program
Sometimes Excel will crash or stop responding in the middle of your data entry, corrupting your file. If this is the case, simply click start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, and then start the Microsoft Office Application Recovery program. In the application section click Excel and then Recover Application. Do not click end application, or you will lose the document. If you scan the task pane, it should list all the documents available for recovery, including your spreadsheet. Open the spreadsheet you desire and save.

Method 3: Save in HTML or XML format
If the file is corrupted by can still be opened, you can filter the data by saving it as a web page. Open the damaged spreadsheet, then open the file menu and click “Save as.” At this point you can save the file as a “Web Page” or “XML Spreadsheet.” Once saved, close the document, then re-open it and save once more, this time as an Excel Workbook. In the process of converting to HTML or XML, some formatting may not carry over, and therefore it is wise to save the new spreadsheet with a separate file name from the damaged original.

Method 4: Copy Spreadsheets to a New File
As long as you can open the damaged Excel file, you can copy it over to a new one. Simply right click on a sheet and “Select All Sheets.” Then right click once more and select “Move” or “Copy.” Select “New Book” and check the box for “Create a Copy,” then click the OK button.

Method 5: Macros
Microsoft Excel allows you to retrieve data from a chart, regardless of whether that data is housed in an external workbook or spreadsheet. Often times the same charts are used in multiple files, and thus even if one file were to become corrupted, the chart can be recovered using the data from a separate workbook. Furthermore, when the original data to that chart is lost, you can still recover this data by using a Visual Basic for Applications macro.