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How to Repair and Restore Corrupt Excel Files on Windows 11

You can encounter various errors while accessing corrupt Excel files, such as “The file is corrupted and cannot be opened”, “Excel cannot open the file <filename> because the file format or file extension is not valid. Verify that the file has not been corrupted and that the file extension matches the format of the file”, etc.

Sometimes, you may even fail to open the corrupted Excel files. There can be several reasons for corruption in Excel files. This article will explain the reasons for corruption in Excel files and how to repair and restore the corrupt Excel files. 

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Here are some common causes that can result in corruption or damage in Excel files:

  • The Excel application or your system crashes while working on a file. This can happen if there is a power outage or a hardware failure.
  • Viruses and malicious programs modify the file structure or delete important data.
  • The storage device (hard drive) where the Excel file is saved has bad sectors or physical damage.
  • Saving large-sized files on the disk with low storage space.

Methods to Repair and Restore Corrupt Excel Files

When you try to open the corrupt Excel file, Excel automatically starts the recovery mode and tries to repair it. However, if the recovery mode doesn’t begin, you can try restoring the file from the backup file (if you have an updated backup).

To do this, go to the backup folder, copy the file, save it at a different location, and rename it. If you don’t have updated backup, then follow the below methods to repair and restore the Excel file data.

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Excel saves a copy of the file automatically if the AutoRecover feature is enabled. If the Excel file is damaged or corrupted, you can revert to the last saved version of the file. Steps to restore the Previously Saved Version of the Excel file are: 

  • Open the affected Excel file (if you can open it) and go to File menu.
  • Now, go to the Info tab and then click on Manage Workbook.
  • Select Recover Unsaved Workbooks.
  • Click on the recent auto-saved Excel file version.
  • Click Open.

Disable Protected View Settings

Excel has Protected View that prevents opening the Excel files received from unsafe sources. If you’re not able to open the file, you can disable the settings to check if it helps. Steps to disable Excel Protected View Settings are:

Note: Before disabling the protected view settings, make sure your system has antivirus software to protect against virus and malware attacks. Make sure the Excel file you are trying to open is from a trustworthy source.

  • In Excel, go to the File menu and click Options.
  • In Excel Options, click Trust Center > Trust Center Settings.
  • Select Protected View and then unselect the below options:
  • Enable Protected View for files originating from the Internet.
  • Enable Protected View for files located in potentially unsafe location.
  • Enable Protected View for Outlook attachments.
  • Click OK.


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Change the Calculation Mode from Automatic to Manual

Sometimes, lengthy formulas in the Excel file prevent you from opening the file. In such a case, you change the calculation mode from Automatic to Manual. Changing the calculation mode may help you open the file. Steps to change calculation mode from Automatic to Manual are:

  • Open a blank Excel worksheet in Excel.
  • Go to File and then select Options.
  • In Excel Options, click Formulas and then select Manual under Calculation options.
  • Click OK.
  • Now, go to the file and then click open.
  • Select the affected Excel file and try to open it.


Use the Open and Repair Utility

Microsoft Excel has a built-in utility to repair damaged/corrupted Excel files. It can help you recover maximum possible data from the affected file. Steps to use the Open and Repair utility are:

  • In the Excel application, click File and then click Open. 
  • In the Open dialog box, select the affected corrupt Excel files.
  • Click on the arrow next to the Open button and then click the Open and Repair option.
  • You will see the following three options in the dialog box:
    • Repair (to recover all possible data)
    • Extract Data (to recover the data, excluding formulas and values)
    • Cancel
  • Click Repair


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Use a Third-party Excel Repair Tool

If the above methods fail to repair and restore corrupted Excel files, use a professional third-party Excel Repair tool, like Stellar Repair for Excel. It is one of the quickest and safest methods to repair Excel files with complete integrity.

This tool can help you recover formulas, values, charts, and other data from damaged files. You can even use it to repair the password-protected Excel files. The tool supports repairing corrupted Excel files on Windows 11, 10, and earlier versions. You can download the demo version of the tool to check its functionality. 


Corruption in Excel file can make the data inaccessible. If you fail to access the corrupt Excel file, then you can restore the backup file. However, if your backup is not updated, follow the above-mentioned methods to repair and restore the corrupt Excel file.

If your file is severely corrupted, using a robust Excel repair tool like Stellar Repair for Excel is an optimal solution. It is a specialized tool recommended by MVPs and experts. The tool is embedded with advanced algorithms to repair severely corrupted Excel files. You can even repair multiple Excel files in a batch using this tool.

About the author

Jeff Peterson

Jeff is a tech geek whose hobby is to learn about the latest developments in the tech world. When he is not writing at you may find him coding or playing his favorite video games