What are corrupted files and how can I repair them?

Corrupted files are computer files that have suddenly become inoperable or unusable. Corruption can happen quickly and unexpectedly, leaving the user unable to open or access the file and data.

If you’re experiencing troubles accessing a file but not sure if it’s corrupted, an easy way to check is if you’re receiving one of the following system messages:

  • The file is corrupt and cannot be opened.
  • Word found unreadable content in “yourfile.docx”. Do you want to recover the contents of this document?
  • Drive is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.

There’s a variety of reasons why this can happen. A defect or bug in the software is a common cause and is thankfully only temporary. Usually, closing the file or folder down and then re-opening can reboot the software. If this works, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the same problem twice.

At other times, the cause could be down to a malicious software program, otherwise known as a virus. If a virus or other foreign software program can access and infiltrate the file, then the system may lock itself and prevent you from accessing the file. Your computer does this to protect your computer and isolate the inoperable file. If you suspect that your computer may have a virus, we’d recommend running an anti-virus check which can help to quarantine malicious software and restore corrupted files.

For more information on detecting computer viruses, you can also check out our dedicated post here.

Are there any other ways to repair corrupted files?

If the above is not applicable to you, there are some other ways in which you can fix corrupted files. However, it’s worth noting that a corrupt file can only be repaired about 50% of the time.

Perform a check disk on the hard drive

Open Windows File Explorer and then right click on the drive and select ‘Properties’. From here, select ‘Tools’ and then click ‘Check’. This will scan and attempt to fix glitches or bugs on the hard drive and recover corrupt files.

Use the CHKDSK command

This is the command version of the check disk tool in step 1. It may be worth trying this command if the check disk tool failed.

Amend the file format

To do this, you can either download and use free file converter apps or open the file with any application that can automatically convert from other file formats. For example, opening a corrupted Word document with a PDF app will usually launch a file conversion utility. Often, a file conversion alone can repair file corruption.

Use file repair software – but keep in mind the costs!

If none of the above works but you’re desperate to fix the file and recover your information, then it might be worth considering paying for file repair software. Various tools are available, like Hetman, Repair Toolbox, or FileRepair. Consider using Digital Video Repair for corrupt video files, Zip Repair for corrupt ZIP files, or OfficeFIX to repair Microsoft Office files.

As corrupt files can strike at any time, it’s always worth backing up your files with an external hard drive to mitigate any potential risk.

We hope you found this post useful. If you enjoyed reading it, why not check out some of our other posts?