How to restore a corrupted Excel file

Our Helproom Editor helps a reader use Restore Previous Versions and then ShadowExplorer to rescue a corrupted Excel file. See also: How to use Excel

QUESTION I'm running Windows Vista Business Edition and I have attempted to import a 2,300 line Excel spreadsheet Access. Unfortunately, the data failed to import and the original Excel spreadsheet now appears to be blank apart from the titled columns.

I cannot explain how important this spreadsheet is and realise how stupid I have been to not keep a good backup. Can I recover the spreadsheet or is all lost?

HELPROOM ANSWER Since you're running the Business Edition of Vista, it's worth trying the "Restore Previous Versions" feature which comes with this version of Windows.

In Windows Explorer, right-click on your Excel file and look around halfway down the pop-up menu and click on Restore Previous Versions. If a system restore point has been created since you created the file, a previous version may be available for you to restore.

There's no guarantee that there will be a useful, or any, version available but it's certainly worth a try.

The Restore Previous Versions feature is not available in Home editions of Windows Vista, but is included in all editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.

If, rather than overwriting your file, you accidentally delete it. You can use the Restore Previous Versions feature on the folder which contained the file. This will give you the option to restore previous versions of the Folder which may have contained the file you just deleted.

Users of Home editions of Windows Vista shouldn't give up at this point. Although the Restore Previous Versions feature isn't included with these editions of Windows, the previous file versions are actually still maintained by the operating system in exactly the same way. It's simply the mechanism to retrieve them which is missing.

A free utility called ShadowExplorer, available from, will allow you to access these previous versions on Home Editions of Vista.

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