Corrupted files are files that have been damaged and do not perform correctly. The term applies to any file, from program files to system files, and all kinds of documents.  

Generally, files may get corrupted while saving or creating a file. Some of the reasons include sudden office app glitches or compression app issues. Also, other storage media can cause corruption on files even if they were saved correctly. Other causes include malware and viruses. 

Corrupted files can occur on any file type, including PDF, Excel, Word, and system files. When files get corrupted, errors such as “The file is corrupted and cannot be opened” begin to appear on your system prompts. 

Some of the other messages you may get include warnings about unreadable content questions on whether you want to recover the files. Fortunately, corrupted SD card recovery is still possible regardless of the level of damage. This article focuses on helping you understand the dynamics around corrupted files and how to repair them. 

So, What Causes Corrupted Files?

Physical Damage

When the section on the drive where a file is located or stored gets some form of physical damage, the file will likely get corrupted. Such a section is referred to as a bad section. 

Same Space Error

Files stored on memory or hard drives are saved in clusters. In some cases, the operating system may allocate the files to the same space in memory. Such incidents will trigger corrupted file errors. Also, a problem with a section of the computer system, or a crash, can easily cause two files to be stored in the exact location triggering corrupted file errors.


Sometimes, a virus may mark a hard drive sector as bad. This may cause files to become corrupted.  

How To Fix Corrupted Files

So how do you fix corrupted files? Below are some of the most commonly used corrupted file fixes.

1. Check Disk On The Hard Drive

When you do this check, the drive is scanned and bad sectors recovered, or an attempt to recover them is made. Here is the step–by–step process:

Step 1: Open File Explorer and right-click the Hard Disk you want to scan. Choose “Properties.”

Step 2: Click the “Check” button under the “Tools” tab appearing under the Error-checking section. 

Step 3: Choose “Scan drive” or “Repair drive” if you need to scan or repair the drive respectively.

Step 4: Wait for the error scan to finish. If some errors are found, you may be prompted to restart your computer. However, if you do not get any errors, close the window and continue using your computer normally. 

Once the repair is complete, you can open the files again to check if they have been repaired. 

2. Use CHKDSK Command 

If the check disk tool above fails, the command version of the tool above is worth trying.

Step 1: Tap on the search box and type CMD. Then, right-click the command prompt that appears and select “Run as administrator.”

Step 2: Type CHKDSK F:/f/r/x and tap “Enter.” Make sure to replace “F” with the letter representing your drive.

3. Use SFC Or Scannow Command

This is yet another command you can use to fix corrupted file errors. The aim of this command is to find and repair corrupt Windows system files. 

Step 1: Tap the search box and type CMD. Then right-click the command prompt and select “Run as administrator.”

Step 2: Type SFC or “scannow” and “Enter.”

4. Change The File Format 

Changing the file format is another option to fix corrupted files. You can use a free file converter app or open the file with any software that automatically converts from other file formats automatically. 

For instance, you can use a PDF app to open a corrupted Word document by launching the file-conversion utility. 

Step 1: Open corrupted Word or Excel files and go to “Save As.”

Step 2: Choose “Web Page” from the possible file formats. Ensure the whole document is selected. Click “Save.”

Step 3: Locate the file you have saved and right-click on it. Select “Open with” and choose “Microsoft Office Excel.”

Step 4: If you manage to open the file, go to “Save As” and select an Excel format .xls or .xlsx. You should then be able to recover the corrupted Excel file. 

5. Use An Online File Recovery Tool

Online file recovery is much easier as you only need to upload the corrupted files, repair them, and download them again as fixed documents. 

The software, however, comes with the disadvantages outlined below:

  • Slow repair 
  • File privacy is not guaranteed
  • High cost 

6. Use A File Repair Software

If you have lost precious data to file corruption, you may want to try a file repair utility. There are both free and paid versions of file repair software such as Digital Video Repair, Zip repair, OfficeFix, Disk Drill, among others.