Corrupted Excel File

Copper Contributor

A password protected excel file was saved as a back up in an external hard drive.


Thereafter on attempting to open it using the correct password it says "The file is corrupted and cannot be opened"


Would be obliged if there is any way to recover the file as it has very important stuff therein.


14 Replies


There are a few things you could try but you would have to have the file.
At the same time, decrypting a file that does not belong to you can be a criminal offense.

A very sensitive situation, especially when it comes to sensitive data.

A worksheet can be opened easily, a file can be a bit difficult.

You might need additional software to manage this.

Everything is possible, but everything is not allowed.


Here is an example of how to unlock a worksheet.

'CAUTION only to be used for your own Excel sheets!


I would be happy to know if I could help.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)


* Kindly Mark and Vote this reply if it helps please, as it will be beneficial to more Community members reading here.

Hi Nikolino,

It certainly is MY OWN file, thanks for the concern and the tip.

I noticed your tip mentions about removal of password. I know the password very well and am entering it correctly but it shows as "... Corrupt, and cannot be opened". Hence the reach out.

Would you review your advise please?


Unfortunately, the translation came across as if the password were the problem.
However, if it is a question of damaged Excel files and not about passwords then you can find information here.


This method of repairing Excel files works as of Office 2003.

Start Excel on your computer.
Now, depending on the version, click on "File" or the "Office" button at the top left and select the "Open" item.
Now select the desired Excel file and click on the arrow next to "Open" (see picture).
Here click on the item "Open and Repair".
Confirm the query by clicking on "Repair".
An attempt will now be made to repair the Excel file. If this is successful, save the file.
If an error occurred or the file was not repaired, try the process again.
In the final query, however, do not click on "Repair" but on "Extract data".
The file should now be repaired at the latest.

additional information

Repair a corrupted workbook


Of course there are also tools that you can buy additionally.
such as Wondershare (Stellar Excel Repair Tool), recovery toolbox, etc. can be found and bought on the Internet.

*The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of me. I makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.


Thank you for your understanding and patience


I would be happy to know if I could help.


Wish you a nice day.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)

@NikolinoDE Thanks a lot for your efforts, but it's just not happening despite trying all the alternatives as per advice. Shall try buying any of those software and attempt. Maybe I would succeed.

Thanks anyways. Much appreciated.

best response confirmed by TriqAz (Copper Contributor)



Maybe try it with this tool is a Free Trial version, if it works you can still buy it.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of me. I makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.


Thank you for your patience and time.



I know I don't know anything (Socrates)

@NikolinoDE Thanks but it too failed to repair :(


Appreciate your support a lot. Many thanks.

I am sorry your file is no longer repairable.

I wish you a nice day / night with health, joy and love.

I know that I know nothing (Socrates)


Try the following to see how your precious Excel data appear in MS Excel


  • Open the application.
  • Click on File -> Options.
  • Select Trust Center and press the Trust center settings button.
  • Pick Protected view.
  • Uncheck all the options under Protected View and confirm by pressing OK.
  • Restart Excel and try to open the broken Excel documents. 

I had the same thing happen to a file that I've been using for years. Additionally, it happened to all the backup files of the same spreadsheet. Everyone got corrupted on my laptop. Furthermore, my PC is networked with the laptop and all the versions and backups of that same file also got corrupted on the PC.

Solution: I accessed that same corrupted file on One Drive using the web excel software. It opened the file perfectly. i copied and pasted the One Drive spreadsheet to a new spreadsheet on my laptop and saved it as a new file. Then I deleted all backups of the original file on the laptop and PC. 
All was fine. No more corrupted files....... until I added back in the password protection to the file and then got immediate corruption. I then went through the same procedure and did not add the password protection. 
Very dissapointing but I still have my file!



i am having the same problem.


ZERO problem on my 2019 laptop with windows 10 and 20204 version of office.


new files, files with text (no formatting), etc. all of them become corrupted and unrecoverable as soon as i password protect them.

and i took the "corrupted file" from the new laptop and opened it on the 2019 laptop with win 10 with zero problem. something is wrong with excel and windows 11?
this solved the problem--malwarebytes issues

thank you! shutting off malwarebytes excel 4.0 protection solved the problem!!!

i'm repeating the steps for doing this for clarity:


scroll to bottom, exploit protection, advanced settings

application behavior protection

scroll to bottom, uncheck excel macro 4.0 abuse prevention

@Jim_Climb ,

I had the same problem occur at the same time on a Dell laptop with Windows 11, and also on an HP decktop using Windows 10. Both are on the same network. All pwd excel files got corrupted.

Before you start save a working copy of your spreadsheet without the pwd on a flash drive, and also keep one on your laptop.
I found the solution and all is fine as it was before. Here is what I did:
Control Panel > program and features > select Office 365 > change > online repair. 
It took about 5 minutes on the windows 11 laptop, and about 30 minutes or more on the Windows 10 PC. 
Create a test spreadsheet and save. Open it again and put a pwd on it, save and close. When you open it again it should be fine. At least mine was. Then you can open the former corrupted spreadsheet and and add a pwd. Hope it works. Let me know.  Good luck.