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How to Recover and Repair Corrupt Microsoft Word File

Microsoft Word has remained by far the most popular word processing application. Despite that, it has its shortcomings. Though the probability is low, your Microsoft Word file can become corrupt, and all you get when trying to open it is an error saying “The file is corrupt and cannot be opened”, then “Microsoft office cannot open this file because some parts are missing or invalid.”

Typically, a word file becomes corrupted when a problem occurs during saving. If your computer loses power or crashes as you save a file or as MS Word is writing to the disk, there’s a good possibility that the file will become corrupted. If you are editing the file directly on the thumb drive and do not properly shut down the drive before pulling it out, you stand a good chance of leaving part of the file behind, corrupting the document. Bad sectors on your hard drive or other storage media can also cause file corruption, even if the saving process finishes properly. Your file can also be open to viruses and other malware attacks that can cause file corruption.

Recent versions of MS word have managed to minimize corruption by AutoSaving to a different location rather than saving on top of the current file. In the case where your word file has become corrupt, this article we will show you how you can recover your file. The nature of corruption however will dictate if you will be able to recover the file. If it is a power loss then it is likely that the file was truncated leaving chunks behind. Apparently the document structure puts the text content at the end of the file where it is most likely to be lost making recovery in these cases a lot harder. If your file was corrupted by other ways they are more likely to be recovered. This includes files that were reconstructed by data recovery software.

Try the methods below to recover your files; if one doesn’t work, try the next.

Method 1: Use the inbuilt Microsoft Word Repair tool

Microsoft word has an inbuilt open and repair tool available since MS Word 2007 that you can use to repair your files. Since it was made by the software manufacturer, it is the safest bet to recovering a corrupt file.

PRO TIP: If the issue is with your computer or a laptop/notebook you should try using the Reimage Plus Software which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Reimage Plus by Clicking Here
  1. Open Microsoft Word (just the program, not necessarily a file)
  2. Press Ctrl + O to bring up the open dialog box or go to file > open
  3. Navigate to your corrupt file and select it (don’t open yet)
  4. On the ‘Open’ button click on the arrow pointing downwards and choose ‘Open and repair’
  5. MS word will then attempt to repair and open your file

Method 2: Recover Unsaved Documents

If word had crushed on you and corrupted your file, the AutoSave feature might help you. If the AutoSave feature was on, your file will be temporarily be saved in the ‘UnsaveFiles’ folder. This feature is available in office 2003 and newer version.

  1. Open Microsoft Word
  2. Go to File > Info
  3. Click on Manage Versions and select Recover Unsaved Documents.
  4. You will be able to see the last AutoSaves for any document that was not saved correctly. You can select your file and save it to a new location from the ‘save as’ option. The file might be an earlier version of the progress you had made.

Method 3: Recover text from any file

Microsoft Word also lets you recover text from any file including corrupt word files. However you will lose formatting and images.

  1. Open Microsoft Word (just the program, not necessarily a file)
  2. Press Ctrl + O to bring up the open dialog box or go to file > open
  3. Navigate to your corrupt file and select it (don’t open yet)
  4. Click on the combo box written ‘All Files’ to reveal a drop down menu and pick ‘Recover Text From Any File (*)’
  5. Click on Open
  6. Word will open the document. A few lines might be gibberish but you will also be able to see lines you had typed in your document.
  7. Save the file to a new location and edit it as you wish

Method 4: Open With Notepad

Opening with notepad will ignore the document structure and pick only the plain text. You can find this plain text and then copy paste it to a new word document. However, you will lose all formatting and images.

  1. Navigate to the corrupt word file
  2. Right click on it and choose ‘Open with’ and then click ‘Choose default program…’
  3. On the ‘Other Programs’ section click on the arrow pointing downwards to reveal more programs
  4. Select Notepad
  5. Uncheck the box written ‘Always use the selected program to open this kind of file’ to avoid making notepad the default program for word files
  6. Click OK
  7. In the notepad window that opens, you will see random texts that correspond to formatting, images and file structures. You will also see the text you typed in your word document. Copy and paste this text to a new word document. You will have to format it all over again.

Method 5: Use third party recovery software

Third party applications might be helpful in recovering your word document.

  1. Download a third party application like ‘Microsoft Word Repair Tool’ from here or DataNumen Word Repair from here
  2. Install the application and launch it.
  3. Browse for your file and repair it.
PRO TIP: If the issue is with your computer or a laptop/notebook you should try using the Reimage Plus Software which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Reimage Plus by Clicking Here
RECOMMENDED: Click here to fix Windows errors and optimize system performance

About Kevin Arrows

Hi! I'm Kevin. Thank you for reading the article above. I am a certified MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) with over 10 years of experience. I love to address tech issues, and write tech how-to's in a way that it can be followed by everyone.