Corrupted files are files that got damaged, causing them to malfunction. The term applies to any file, ranging from program to system files, and all kinds of documents.

Files may get corrupted when they are saved or created. Some of the reasons include sudden office app glitches or compression app issues. Other storage media can also cause file corruption even if it is saved correctly. Malware is also a leading cause of file corruption.

Corruption can affect any file type, including PDF, Excel, Word, and system files. You get alerted to file corruption through errors, such as “The file is corrupted and cannot be opened,” that appear as system prompts.

Other messages include warnings about unreadable content and questions on whether you want to recover a file or not. Fortunately, corrupted SD card recovery is still possible regardless of damage level. This post will help you understand the dynamics surrounding corrupted files and how to repair them.

What Causes File Corruption?

Several culprits can result in file corruption but we’ll focus on three here.

Physical Damage

When the section on the drive where a file is stored gets physically damaged, the file will likely get corrupted. A damaged section is typically called a “bad section.”

Same-Space Error

Files stored in memory or hard drives are saved in clusters. In some cases, the operating system (OS) may save files in the same space in memory. Such an incident will trigger file corruption. A problem with a section of a computer or a crash can also easily cause two files to be stored in the exact location, triggering file corruption.


Sometimes, malware may mark a hard drive sector as “bad,” causing files to get corrupted.

How to Fix Corrupted Files

How do you fix corrupted files then? Take a look at some of the most commonly used fixes for corrupted files below.

1. Check the Hard Drive Disk

Doing this check scans the hard drive and fixes bad sectors. The computer attempts to recover corrupted files as well. Here is the step-by-step process:

Step 1: Open File Explorer and right-click Hard Disk. Choose Properties.

Step 2: Click the Check button under the Tools tab that appears 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. If there are no 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 indeed been fixed.

2. Use the CHKDSK Command

If the check disk process above fails, you can try its command-line version by following these steps:

Step 1: Tap the search box and type CMD. 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 the Scannow Command

SFC is yet another command you can use to fix corrupted files. It aims to find and repair corrupted Windows system files.

Step 1: Tap the search box and type CMD. Right-click the command prompt and select Run as administrator.

Step 2: Type SFC or scannow then press Enter.

4. Change the Affected File’s 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 it into other file formats. You can use a PDF app to open a corrupted Word document by launching the file-conversion utility as an example.

Step 1: Open the corrupted Word or Excel file and click Save As.

Step 2: Choose Web Page from among the available file formats. Ensure the whole document is selected. Click Save.

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

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

5. Use an Online File Recovery Tool

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

The software, however, comes with some disadvantages, including:

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

6. Use a File Repair Software

If you 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, and Disk Drill, among others.

Even the most technical-savvy person can suffer from file corruption woes. There are tons of ways to fix the problem, though, as you’ve seen in this post.