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When trying to open a spreadsheet, you may encounter the following error message “The file is corrupt and cannot be opened“.
This error message usually pops up when users try to open a file with an older version of Excel. While we try to make our spreadsheets as much compatible as possible with previous Excel versions, some users may still get this message occasionally depending on their operating system and other external parameters. Luckily, there are a few solutions that can help you quickly fixe this issue.
If you are using an old version of Excel (2003, 2007, 2010, 2013), our first recommendation to solving compatibility issues is to update your software to the latest version.
Note that Microsoft support for Office 2003, Office 2007 and Office 2010 has been discontinued which means you won’t receive important security updates anymore. To use the newest features and get the most up-to-date security updates, we strongly recommend you get the latest version of Office.
If you already have a Microsoft 365 account, updating Excel is easy:
Note: You may need to click Enable Updates first if you don’t see the Update Now option right away.
You can also use the Update Options button to Disable Updates or to View Updates that were previously installed.
If you don’t have the possibility to update Excel, please proceed with the alternatives described below.
Note: Disabling the Protected View Setting can make your system vulnerable to external threats and intrusions. Therefore, it is recommended to save your document with new office extension like .xlsx after you access it, then enable the “Protected View Settings.”
If none of the solutions described previously worked, an alternative is to change Component Services Settings:
When Microsoft Excel detects a corrupted workbook upon opening, it automatically starts File Recovery mode and attempts to repair the workbook. If File Recovery mode doesn’t start, try using this manual process to recover your workbook:
Open & Repair
If Excel fails to open the spreadsheet on its own or via the Open and Repair option, try setting the calculation method to manual and try again. To reset the calculation setting:
Then, try to open the workbook again. Sometimes Excel can open a corrupted workbook if it doesn’t have to recalculate.
If Excel cannot open the file, you can also try to run it in Safe Mode to see if the Excel file can be smoothly opened. Use one of these methods to start Excel in Office Safe Mode on a Windows PC:
Press and hold the CTRL key to open an Office Application
Use the /safe option to open an Office Application
Once Excel is opened, simply open your spreadsheet by click File > Open and select your file
This solution may not apply to you if you don’t have the option to Unlock a file:
Sometimes, a corrupted workbook isn’t really corrupted in the traditional sense. It just isn’t accessible as usual; networks and servers often mask errors as corrupted files. If you encounter a seemingly corrupted workbook that Excel can’t repair, move the corrupted file to another folder, drive, or server.
Last but not least, you may need to repair your Office Program to troubleshoot the error message:
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