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TECHNOLOGY Q&A

How to Fix Corrupted Microsoft Office Files

 

By STANLEY ZAROWIN
APRIL 2010

Q I’m having problems with some Microsoft Office files. Some of them open very slowly, and others either don’t open or they open with terse error messages. Do you have any idea what’s going on? And what do you suggest I do about it?

 

A There are many possibilities, but the most common is a virus. Check to see that your antivirus software is current. Too often an otherwise good antivirus product leaves an opening for a virus attack when the software is not kept up to date. After confirming the effectiveness of the antivirus product, run a full scan.

 

If that uncovers nothing, then the corruption might have been caused by the file’s age, an application snafu or an electrical spike; or you may have saved the files when your computer’s resources (RAM) were very low. Fortunately, you have built-in tools for all your Microsoft applications to address that concern.

 

In Office 2007, click on the Office Button and your target document and then on Open. Your cursor will be immediately repositioned to hover over the word Open. Click on Open and Repair (see screenshot below).

 

The steps are similar with applications prior to Office 2007, except the Open button is accessed through File on the taskbar. Then, after selecting your target file, click it just once—not the usual double-click to open it—and then click on the small arrow at the far right of the open button and select Open and Repair (see screenshot on right).

 

If the problem is with Outlook, Microsoft has a special built-in repair tool. But first you have to find the tool, and then you have to find the Outlook.pst file. Fortunately, the above item, “Archive Outlook Safely, Effectively, Swiftly,” shows you how to find the Outlook.pst file.

 

To find the repair tool—Scanpst.exe—in Office 2007, first go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office 12, and then cursor down to SCANPST (see screenshot below).

Finally, enter the name and path of the .pst file in the appropriate box and press Start (see screenshot below).

 

If you’re using Outlook 2003 or earlier, you’ll find the tool under one of these folders: C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\Mapi\1033 or C:\Program Files\Common Files\System\MSMAPI\1033.

 

If you have archives files, they are probably stored as archive.pst.

 

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