How to Repair a Corrupt or Damaged Word File

When your Microsoft Word .doc and .docx files are damaged or corrupted due to various reasons and you cannot open them successfully with Word, you can use the following steps to repair the corrupt file:

Note: Before starting a data recovery procedure, you need to make a backup of your original corrupt Word file. This is the most important step that many will forget.

    1. First of all, Microsoft Word has a built-in repair function. When it detects there are corruptions in your Word file, it will start File Recovery mode and try to repair the file for you. In some cases, if the File Recovery mode is not start automatically, then you can force Word to repair your file manually. Take Word 2013 as an example, the steps are:
      1. On the File menu, click Open.
      2. In the Open dialog box, select the file you want to open, and click the arrow next to the Open button.
      3. Click Open and Repair, and then Word will try to repair the corrupt file and open it in a new document window. You can save the new document as a new file or overwrite the original one.

      The recovery procedures are little different for different versions of Word. Below is a list of the article URLs that for different versions of Word:

      Word version Article URL
      2003 https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/troubleshoot/word/damaged-documents-in-word
      2007/2010/2013 https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/open-a-document-after-a-file-corruption-error-47df9d48-2165-4411-a699-1786ac734bc3

      Based on our test, method 1 mainly works for the cases when corruptions occur in the tail of the file. But will not work when corruptions occur in the header or middle of the file.

    2. If you have multiple corrupt Word documents, then you can use the VBA macro provided in article https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/open-a-document-after-a-file-corruption-error-47df9d48-2165-4411-a699-1786ac734bc3 so that all the files will be opened in “Open and Repair” option automatically.
    3. There are also free tools from third-parties that can open and read Microsoft Word documents, for example,
      1. OpenOffice at http://www.openoffice.org. This is a very famous open source project that is designed to support Office file formats, including Word documents. The software can run under Windows.
      2. LibReOffice at https://www.libreoffice.org/. Another free office suite.
      3. AbiWord at https://www.abisource.com/. This is a cross-platform tool that works under Unix and Windows.
      4. Google Docs at https://www.google.com/docs/about/ can also open Word file online.

      Sometimes when Word fails to open your document, these tools may be able to open it successfully. If that is the case, then after the document is opened, you can just save it as a new document which will be error-free.

    4. For docx files, they are actually a group of files compressed in Zip file format. Therefore, sometimes, if the corruption is only caused by the Zip file, then you can use Zip repair tools such as DataNumen Zip Repair to repair the file, as follows:
      1. Assuming the corrupt document is a.docx, then you need to rename it to a.zip
      2. Using DataNumen Zip Repair to repair a.zip and generated a fixed file a_fixed.zip.
      3. Rename a_fixed.zip back to a_fixed.doc
      4. Using Word to open a_fixed.doc.

      There may still be some warnings when opening the fixed file in Word, just let ignore it and Word will try to open and repair the fixed file. If the file can be opened successfully, then you can just save the contents into another error-free file.

    5. If all above methods fail, then you need to use DataNumen Word Repair to solve the problem. It will scan the corrupted file and generate a new error-free file for you automatically.