By Penny / Last update March 14, 2022

Part 1. How do I recover a corrupted excel file?


My excel file contains about 50 pages with formulas and references. There’re many tables with formatting. One day, it failed to open. What’s worse, the Office has executed the error and will be closed after restarting offers to restore the file. But it didn’t work. Is there any way to recover corrupted excel files? Thanks.


- A user from

Microsoft Excel works as a convenient tool for many staffs. It caters to the substantial need for records management and data calculations. Have you been stuck in a similar situation to the case? If your excel files turn into corrupted ones, can you recover them yourself?

At the moment, please keep calm. If possible, use your excel files as little as possible to improve the possibility for data recovery. Please read further to figure out the reasons and specific solutions for corrupted excel files.

Part 2. Possible reasons for a corrupted excel file

This part aims to find the possible reasons for corrupted excel files. These listed reasons might help you avoid similar issues again in the future.

✌The most common scenario: Unexpected power failure or power equipment damage. (When the system shuts down or abruptly, all running files are forced to close.)

✌Unsupported excel file version: Please open and edit an excel file in the corresponding version.

✌Bad sectors on the hard drive.

✌The large size of the excel file.

✌Virus or malware attack.

Part 3. Two effective ways to recover corrupted excel files

Now that we’ve identified the common reasons for corrupted excel files. Let’s check out how to recover corrupted excel files in this section. There’re two effective ways for your reference.

The first method relies heavily on the characteristics of the Windows operating system. The second method needs to type the correct command lines with Windows File Recovery. So let’s start with the relatively easy one.

Way 1. Recover corrupted excel files manually

You certainly cannot open a corrupted excel file. Here, you’d better try to recover corrupted excel files manually. Because File Recovery mode only applies to the open excel files. Let’s perform how to recover corrupted excel files manually.

Step 1. Press the Start button and input Excel in the search bar, then click Open your Excel.

Step 2. Go to Open Other Workbooks > Computer (This PC) > Browse.


Step 3. Locate the folder that includes your corrupted excel files, then select the corrupted excel files you want to restore.

Step 4. Click the icon▼next to the Open button, then select Open and Repair.


Step 5. (1) If you want to recover data as much as possible, click Repair. After repairing, you can see a window reminding you to Close.


Step 5. (2) If Repair doesn’t work successfully. You can extract values and formulas from the excel file by clicking Extract Data.


Way 2. Recover corrupted excel files with Windows File Recovery

Data corruption in computer systems could be classified into two types: undetected and detected. The corrupted excel files belong to the detected data corruption. Detected data corruption could also be temporary if some system parts detect and correct the error. Therefore, there’s no data corruption in this case.

Microsoft easily meets these two necessities. Microsoft excel has capable of detecting. When Microsoft Excel detects a corrupted excel file upon opening, it enters File Recovery mode and strives to recover it.

So Windows File Recovery seems like a good option for data recovery. However, there’s no graphical user interface for this command-line utility. Therefore, you should enter the corresponding command line according to different modes and switches.

 Detected data corruption may be permanent with data loss if this method fails to recover it.
 The recovered excel files or folders need to be saved in a new location.
 Please keep this basic command format in mind: winfr source-drive: destination-drive [/mode] [/switches]
If you’re not familiar with Winfr, you can refer to the two best free file recovery software Windows.

Step 1. Download the Windows File Recovery from Microsoft Store and install it on your PC.


Step 2. Enter the Windows File Recovery in the search box, then Run as administrator.


Step 3. Launch it and check your file system. Go to “This PC”, and right-click on the drive that includes the deleted files, then click “Properties”.


Step 4.  Select a corresponding mode according to the following form.

File system Scenarios mode
NTFS Deleted recently Regular
NTFS Deleted for a while Extensive
NTFS Formatted disk Extensive
NTFS Corrupted disk Extensive
FAT and exFAT Any Extensive

Step 5. You can resemble your command line with syntaxes. You can find the detailed parameter/switch in Microsoft official support.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recover specific extension groups. Signature
/k Recovers system files. NTFS
/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin. NTFS

Let’s take excel files for example. The corresponding command syntax is winfr C: D: \recovery /r /n *. xlsx. 

Step 6. Input “y” to continue, then wait for the recovery process to be finished. Your recovered files will be saved in the target drive.

Alternative free tool: WinfrGUI (Windows File Recovery GUI)

As mentioned above, some systems can detect and correct the mistakes of the corrupted excel files. That means WinfrGUI is also feasible for data recovery. This free tool fully invokes the function of Windows File Recovery and is easier to operate with a graphical user interface. Why not try this alternative method instead of way 2?

Step 1. Download and install WinfrGUI on your PC. Then all the partitions on your Windows can be seen on the main interface of WinfrGUI.

Download Freeware Win 10 2004 and above
Secure Download

Step 2. Select two partitions. One for scanning and another for saving the recovered files.


Step 3. Select a suitable scan mode: Quick Scan or Deep Scan. Then click “Advanced Settings” to select “Documents”.


Step 4. Click “Start Recovery” to scan. After the process, your recovered pdf files will be saved in your destination folder on the destination drive.


Related suggestions: Other preventive measures to avoid corrupting excel files 

This guide shares with you two effective ways to recover corrupted excel files. If you’re familiar with Windows operating system, you can refer to one of the two. If you want a more convenient solution, especially for the deleted files, WinfrGUI could tackle your concerns.

There are also three preventive measures by making backups. The first two measures refer to creating an auto-save backup workbook copy and creating an auto-recovery file at set intervals with Windows. You’re supposed to enhance the awareness of Windows if you’re more inclined to these two plans.

The third preventive measure is AOMEI Backupper. This backup software for Windows is embedded with abundant functions including backup, recovery, clone, and sync. There is always one that can meet your requirements among versatile features.