Deleted files recovered, but formats not recognise

  Flying Teddy 15:08 10 May 2008

I have tried different file recovery programmes that look for and recover files that have been deleted/lost etc. This they do (with greater or lesser success), but in all cases I cannot open the recovered files. With the exception of a very few .jpg files, all MS office files (.doc, .xls ...) .pdf, .txt, .ini files etc will not open because the relevant application does not recognise the format. I have noted this in the past, and I haven't got round to sorting it because I normally do a 'document files' backup every week. But of course the inevitable has happened - I neglected to do my backup last week, and the major folder holding my documents got deleted this week (don't ask, I don't know, but I suspect 17 year old fingers..!).

I did the restore from my backup, but this left two weeks of missing material, so I ran a couple of recovery programmes. They found lots of files, most were 'successfully' recovered, but all of those were un-openable due to the unrecognisable format problem.

Is this normal? Or is there something basic that I'm not doing? Can anyone reccommend a good recovery programme that even I can work? I can't remember the name of the first app I used (I uninstalled it a while ago), I've also tried, rejected and uninstalled NTFS Undelete and my last attempt was with PCInspector.

It's XP Pro SP2, NTFS HDD.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 20:18 10 May 2008

If you recognise the file try renaming with the appropriate file extension i.e.


then try to open the file as normal.

  johnnyrocker 22:11 10 May 2008

click here


  Flying Teddy 10:06 11 May 2008

Thank you both, but I regret that I have described my problem badly and I apologise. The files that are recovered are complete with the correct file extension. For example, the missing file 'story.doc' is recovered as 'story.doc' and fires up Winword when opened. However, Winword then rejects the document as having the wrong format. I recognise all the documents, they are correctly described by the recovery programme. It's just the contents seem to have been mangled in some way. Same with .xls and Excel, etc.

Is it possible for the file to be corrupted so as to be unreadable, and yet still be described as correctly recovered by the recovery programme?

When I am invited to change the format by whatever wizard pops up at this point, I can scroll through the contents to see the effects of my attempts (!) but within the contents I cannot see any recognisable text, and none of the proffered formats corrects the problem. This may be reasonable in some files but within Word documents, surely some contents would be recognisable?

I fear they are lost forever unless I can find a recovery programme that doesn't mess with the formatting, if that indeed is the case.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 10:40 11 May 2008

Is it possible for the file to be corrupted so as to be unreadable, and yet still be described as correctly recovered by the recovery programme?

Yes it just looks at the file extension.

Files are usually deleted by just removing the first letter of the file name so windows can't find them and then windows will eventually overwrite all or part of the file thinking that sector on the drive is empty.
So the file name can be recovered but the file is still corrupted.
If you need to recover files that are lost your only chance is immediately before writing anything else to the drive and recovering to another drive or partition.

  bremner 10:56 11 May 2008

Friut Bat - the description you gave for file deletion is for FAT, Flying Teddy has NTFS which deletes in a completely different way.

  bremner 10:59 11 May 2008

My guess is that the files have been partially overwritten and so are incomplete.

If you view the file in a disk editor you could possibly judge whether the file is complete or not. e.g. click here

This would also give you the possibility of recovering the text content of the word docs which you could paste into a new document.

  Flying Teddy 14:34 11 May 2008

Thanks all for your input - I'll try the disk editor, although it looks like a lengthy process! Just the thing for a sunny afternoon!


  fyz 15:31 12 May 2008


I don't have too much experience for file recovery. But for excel files, I think you can try a utility called Advanced Excel Repair to repair your Excel xls file. It works rather well for my corrupt Excel xls files. Its web address is click here Hope this helps.


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