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.
#1 – Updating Excel
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:
- Open Excel (or any Office app, such as Word or PowerPoint)
- Click File > Account
- Under Product Information, choose Update Options > Update Now
- Close the “You’re up to date!” window after Office is done checking for and installing updates
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.
#2 – Changing the Protected View Settings
- Open Excel
- Click on File > Options
- Select Trust Center and press the Trust Center Setting button
- Pick Protected View
- Uncheck all the options under Protected View and confirm by pressing OK
- Restart Excel and try to open the Excel spreadsheet again
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.”
#3 – Changing Component Services Settings
If none of the solutions described previously worked, an alternative is to change Component Services Settings:
- Go over the Search Tab in the Start menu of Windows, type “dcomcnfg” and press Enter on your keyboard
- A new Component Services window with three pane view opens
- In the left panel, expand Component Services > Computers then right click on My Computer and choose Properties
- Choose the Default Properties tab on the new window
- Tick mark the option “Enable Distributed COM on this computer“
- Set the value of “Default Authentification Level” as “Connect“
- Set the value of “Default Impersonation Level” as “Identify“
- Click on OK and restart Microsoft Excel
#4 – Using Open and Repair
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:
- Click File > Open.
- Click the location and folder that contains the workbook.
- In the Open dialog box, select the workbook.
- Click the arrow next to the Open button, and then click Open and 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:
- Open a new blank workbook
- From the File menu, choose Options and click the Formulas tab
- For Workbook Calculation, select Manual
- Click OK
Then, try to open the workbook again. Sometimes Excel can open a corrupted workbook if it doesn’t have to recalculate.
#5 – Running Excel in Safe Mode
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
- Find the shortcut icon for your Office application
- Press and hold the CTRL key and double-click the application shortcut
- Click Yes when a window appears asking if you want to start the application in Safe Mode
Use the /safe option to open an Office Application
- Right-click the Start button (lower-left corner) in Windows, and click Run
- In the Run box, type excel /safe and click OK
Once Excel is opened, simply open your spreadsheet by click File > Open and select your file
#6 – Unlocking the File
This solution may not apply to you if you don’t have the option to Unlock a file:
- Select and right-click on the spreadsheet you’re trying to open
- Choose Properties
- Under the General tab, check the box next to Unlock
- Click Apply > OK
#7 – Moving the 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.
#8 – Repairing your MS Office Application
Last but not least, you may need to repair your Office Program to troubleshoot the error message:
- Click on Start, select Settings (or Control Panel for older versions of Windows) and then choose Apps (or Programs and Features for older versions)
- Click on the Office Program that you want to repair and then select Modify (or Change)
- Click on Repair and then Continue
- After the repairing process is complete, restart your system