AAARGHH!!!! There is nothing as frustrating as receiving that “Excel cannot open the file…. file has been corrupted.” message. This happens to me occasionally, especially on those files that I edit often, across different devices and when the files have lots of formatting and formulas in. It’s nice that #OneDrive and #SharePoint keeps versions of the files, but if you can’t open the file, it’s an issue. Let’s see how we can work around this to save that file.
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OneDrive and SharePoint Online has till recently kept 500 versions of your files (will change soon to 100, read more here). This means that every edit you make, can be “rolled back”.
Here’s an example of an error message I received today, which inspired this post of course:
No matter what I did, I couldn’t open that file from any of my devices.
There are different ways to get to the versions, when the file is not corrupt yet, it’s as easy as opening it, and going to the drop-down at the top of the document. Here you can select to view previous versions and then save and older copy as the new copy:
When you simply cannot open the document, best is to go to the web. For OneDrive Files, go to Office.com, open OneDrive and locate the file. For libraries synced from Teams, go to the Team, click on any of the Files Tabs, click on open in SharePoint and locate the document in the document library. (You can also go to Office.com, go to SharePoint, locate the site, go to the library, locate the document.)
Below you’ll see I’ve “found” my document, however even when I open it from the web, it still gives the corrupt message. Click on the ellipses next to the document and go to Version History:
Find an older version of the document that you think still worked and open it by clicking on the hyperlinked modified date. You can now save it as the new version. I have however learnt with Excel to rather copy and paste the content into a new Excel Workbook, then save this as the new document. You might lose the last changes, but at least you haven’t lost everything.
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I’ll be speaking at The European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference in Copenhagen, 26 – 29th of November. #ESPC18 @EuropeanSP Also honored to be a community reporter at the event. Hoping to see you there!
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November 25, 2020 at 9:02 pm
Thank you!! You saved my file!
March 24, 2021 at 7:16 pm
Thank you for this post! I was shocked when Excel gave me the “Couldn’t Open the Workbook” popup. I had thought that saving my file to OneDrive was SAFE! There should be backups and redundancy! All of a sudden, it seemed that my Excel file with 10+ years of family medical and dental records was probably corrupt, and I wasn’t getting any help from the Excel program or from Microsoft’s troubleshooting webpages to fix it!
Thanks to your post, I was able to locate the previous versions of my workbook and find one that had nearly all of my most recent updates. A previous version that I had manually saved elsewhere was four years old, and it would have been a huge undertaking to reconstruct the past four years of information.
Thanks again for helping me save my workbook!
May 1, 2021 at 8:39 am
Oh yay! I’m so glad I could help you!