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Help! I Can't Access My Excel File!

Neha Gupta

Excel worksheets can get corrupt or damaged at any point of time. Just imagine working on important financial figures and power goes off. And when power comes back, you cannot access your worksheet or the excel file fails to open. Now what to do?

There are times when MS Office application automatically recovers the unexpected closed document with the help of Auto recover option and your data is saved from being lost and inaccessible. But what happens when you cannot access your data, can you still get it back. The answer is “Yes”. Why not?

The fast paced technology has developed such recovery tools to recover and restore the lost data. If you lose your data, you can still get it back by performing some basic steps or at last if their remains no hope, you can select a third party utility – an excel file repair software.

This article aims to discuss those methods and points which prove helpful in the cases when you lose your important data.

How Data Becomes Corrupt or Inaccessible:

Before discussing the preventions first we should look at some of the causes due to which the excel file gets corrupt. The causes are:

Virus Attacks

Unexpected or improper system shutdown

Power Outages

Media Errors

Error messages like:

“Excel unable to read file…”,

“This file is not in a recognizable format”,

“????.xls file cannot be accessed. The file may be read-only”,

Excel.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows. You will need to restart the program; an error log is being created”.

Methods to Recover Data from the Corrupt Excel Files:

1. Saving the file in HTML format

2. Use of Revert To Saved Document feature

3. Open file in MS Word

4. Open file in MS Excel Viewer

5. Disable Macros

6. Use of External Link Formulas in another Worksheet

7. Use of Excel’s built-in Detect and Repair feature

8. Other Procedures

1. Saving the file in HTML format

If you are unable to access data or open the worksheet, then you can save the corrupt file in .html format and then reopen it. To do this, perform the following steps:

a. Click the File menu > click the Save As option.

Click the Save as type< list, select the Web Page (*.htm, *.html) option.

c. Close the file

d. Again, open the file in MS Excel

e. Click the File menu, and select the Save As option.

f. Click the Save As type list and select the Microsoft Excel Workbook option. Change the name of the file, to create filtered copy without replacing the original worksheet file.

Note: Some features might get lost when the file is saved in HTML format.

2. Use of Revert To Saved Document

While working on an excel worksheet, if by chance your worksheet closes automatically or it becomes corrupt before saving the changes then you can try this method to retrieve the data back:

a. Click the File menu and select the Open option.

The Open dialogue box appears select the name of the .xls file on which you were working.

c. As you select the .xls file, a dialogue box will be displayed with the following message : “Revert to Saved Document”

d. Click OK

The last saved version of the corrupt .xls file will be displayed.

3. Open file in MS Word or WordPad

To open the MS Excel worksheet in MS Word, you need to install MS Excel converter on your computer system.

If the corrupt excel file gets opened in MS Word then you will be able to recover text and result of the formulas which are currently in the cells. You may not be able to recover the dialog sheets, chart sheets, embedded charts or any module sheets and also the cell formulas.

If converting to WordPad, the data recovery would be possible in Visual Basic code in the modules and class modules. Search for the “Sub” and “Function” word to find the code.

4. Open file in MS Excel Viewer

You can recover the lost data with the help of MS Excel Viewer. MS Excel Viewer is a small, freely distributed program which enables you to view and print Excel for Windows (v2.0 and greater) and MS Excel for Macintosh (v 2.2a and greater) spreadsheet files.

Install the application and then you can copy the cells and paste them in new worksheet. This method can only recover the results of the formulas which are currently in the cell and the formatting of the file. Thus you cannot recover macro sheets, module sheets, dialog sheets, charts or VBA macro modules.

5. Disable Macros

Disable macros while attempting to open the corrupt excel file.

6. Use of External Link Formulas in another Worksheet

Type the following command in the a1 cell of a new worksheet: =’C:My Documents[Corrupt File Name.xls]Sheet’1!A1

Change the path according to the file location and corrupt file name. Copy this code down and over to mirror the range covered in the damaged file. Cell values except the formulas or VBA codes can be recovered with this method.

7. Use of Excel’s built-in Detect and Repair feature

The “Detect and Repair” feature is the built-in recovery procedure through which data from the corrupt excel files can also be recovered. Follow the steps to use this feature:

a. Open New Excel worksheet

Click the File menu and select the Open option.

c. In the Open dialogue box, select the .xls file which you want to open. The Open button will get activated, click the arrow and select the Open and Repair option

d. Click the Repair button to start the process of recovery and Extract Data button to extract data if excel was unable to repair a previous workbook.

The Excel workbook with corruptions can be easily recovered and repaired by using this method.

8. Other Procedures

As the above mentioned steps can help you to recover data from the corrupt excel files, you can also give a try to these steps, which can prove helpful:

a. Close the Excel file and then re-open it.

This does not works, restart your computer system, try to open the excel file again.

c. If this also not works, delete content from the “C:WindowsTemp folder” and again restart the Computer system.

d. If this also does not work then open the corrupt excel file in Safe mode. This process disables the VBA and Add-ins. Click the Start menu and select the Run option.

Enter the following command: “C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOfficeexcel.exe”/s. Now excel in safe mode will start.

Note: If you are working on Excel 2002, Office XP, MS Office Installer will start as you enter the command in Run option. Click Cancel, safe mode will start.

e. If this also does not work, scan the file for viruses. This might solve the problem.

f. You can also try this. Copy and paste the .xls file to another partition and then try to open the file. This might actually work.

g. Finally when you have tried all the above-mentioned points and it seems that they will not work then you can select a third party utility to recover data from the corrupt excel file. There are many excel file recovery software which are designed to perform data recovery on the corrupt files.

The Excel File Repair software is an efficient corrupt excel file recovery software which retrieves and recovers data from the corrupt excel sheets. The excel recovery software recovers the cell data, formulas, charts, images, hyperlinks and other embedded objects from the corrupt excel sheets.

You can try the FREE demo version of the Kernel Excel File Repair software and if the excel file data recovery software displays your lost and inaccessible data then you can purchase Full version of the software.

Excel File Recovery Software supports data recovery from almost every version of MS Excel including MS Excel 2003, 2000, 97, XP.

Back to more Microsoft Excel Help

About the Author:

Neha Gupta is a technical writer for Nucleus Data Recovery – provider of professional and best data recovery software and data recovery services. Contact for email recovery, database recovery, password recovery, backup recovery tools.


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