Software Review – Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair

When you attempt to open an Excel file, you might encounter an error message that prevents you from accessing the data stored into the XLSX or XLS file. Then, you may try other possible ways to access the file, but fail to gain access. This indicates that the Excel file has become corrupt and has become inaccessible.

In order to access the file and its integrated contents, you are required to repair it first. Since Excel files are an important medium to store crucial data, it is important to repair the corrupted workbooks using reliable Excel Repair software from a trusted developer.

An Introduction to Excel File Corruption

When corruption in the Excel file takes place, it is indicated by various error messages. Some of the common error messages are:

  • “File error: data may have been lost”
  • “The file is corrupt and cannot be opened”
  • “An unexpected error has occurred”
  • “Microsoft Office Excel has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience”

If a file gets corrupted, it is difficult to detect the actual reason responsible behind corruption. In fact, there are number of reasons that cause damage to Excel files; sometimes there can be a single reason behind its inaccessible state or it can be more than one.

Synopsis of the Tool:

Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair version 5.5 is a reliable and sophisticated solution that handles all kinds of XLSX and XLS corruption with precision. The tool takes care of all the internal attributes of Excel workbooks as well as worksheets and recovers data considering all basic and advanced data recovery needs of the user.

When Tested on Excel 2010 in Windows 10 Environment:

MS Excel 2010 was working smooth since its installation on the machine, but suddenly when I tried to open a worksheet, Excel displayed an error message; Excel found unreadable content in filename.xls.

Then I reopened the file, but it displayed the same error message. Even after trying some built-in recovery options such as setting calculation option to manual, utilizing external references to link to the workbook, I failed to get access to the file. Then I downloaded Excel repair tool.

System Requirements

The installation procedure took about 20 seconds. There are some minimum requirements that the tool demands to be installed on the machine. This includes:

  • The tool runs on Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, NT, and XP versions
  • Supports MS Excel 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, and 2000
  • Run over system with minimum Pentium Class processor
  • Requires minimum 50 megabytes of free space on hard drive
  • RAM requirement is 256 Megabytes while 1GB is recommended

My system was running on Windows 10. Before initiating the installation procedure, ensure that the above system requirements are fulfilled.

Installation Instruction

To install Excel Repair tool on the Windows-based system:

  1. Double-click on the Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair exe file. Repair Toolkit Setup Wizard will open, click on Next
  2. Specify Destination screen will appear. Provide the destination path for installing the tool and click on Next
  3. On the Select Start Menu Folder screen, mention the location where you want to install the program shortcuts and click on Next
  4. In Select Additional Task screen check appropriate option(s) and click on Next
  5. Click on Install on the Ready to Install screen
  6. Click on Finish to exit the wizard

Working Procedure

Once the tool is installed successfully, launch it by double-clicking the desktop icon. There are some pre-requisites that must be followed to perform successful and efficient recovery. First, all Excel files need to be closed before starting the recovery procedure otherwise you will get the following message on the screen.

Error Message

Second, if any engineering formulas exist in the Excel workbook or worksheet, you need to install ‘Analysis ToolPak’ add-in.

Then follow instructions listed below:

  1. Upload the corrupt Excel file by selecting either of the following options:
    1. Click on Select File button to upload the corrupted .xls or .xlsx file
    2. Click on Select Folder to search for damaged Excel file from a folder
    3. Click on Search File(s) to search the corrupt file in the drive
    4. Select Search Subfolders if you want to search Excel file in the subfolders

Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair

  1. The tool will list all the searched files in the tool panel. Select the files that need to be repaired by clicking on the associated checkboxes. Alternatively, click on Select All if you want to repair all listed files

Excel Files

  1. Click on Scan button to start the repair process
  2. The tool will display a preview of the repaired file in the right pane
  3. Next, select destination location to save the repaired file. Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair tool provides two different options for saving the repaired file.
    1. You can select ‘Default Location’ to save the repaired file at its source location with a new name
    2. You can choose ‘Select New Folder’ to save the file at a specific location other than the original location

How the tool Helps to Remove Corruption from Excel Files

Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair software integrates advanced recovery algorithms that perform a thorough scan on corrupted XLS as well as XLSX files. The tool then repairs corrupt Excel file and save it as a new file at a defined location on the hard drive. An important benefit is that the original files remain as is even after recovery. Apart from this, there are other benefits as well:

  • Preserves cell formatting and worksheet properties
  • Efficiently handles corruption and removes Excel file errors
  • Recovers all Excel components from corrupted file including tables, cell comment, formula, chartsheet, image, chart, filter, sort, etc.
  • Performs batch processing on corrupted Excel files to save time
  • Offers real time access to recoverable data before recovering it
  • Effortless recovery procedure that doesn’t demand any technical expertise


To sum up, my experience with Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair V5.5 is satisfactory as far as functionality is concerned. The tool helped resolve “Excel found unreadable content in filename.xls” error message, prevent the file from the state of corruption and I gained access to the precious data.

Although the interface of the tool is not much interactive, it is simple enough and can be operated by beginners. I would rate Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair 9 out of 10 where I deducted 1 point for User Interface; I am hopeful that developers may consider improving the design of the tool in its next version.

The Ultimate Solution of Excel File Extension is Not Valid Error

Summary: The post highlights a few popular in-built ways to repair a corrupted Excel workbook along with the ultimate solution to resolve the ‘Excel file extension is not valid’ error using a third-party tool which supports both XLS and XLSX versions of the application.

When you open a corrupt Excel workbook, it automatically begins the File Recovery mode. This mode attempts to open and repair the workbook simultaneously. However, at times, the file recovery mode does not open automatically if any issue exists with the workbook. Therefore, it needs to begin in this mode manually to repair the persisting issue. In several cases, if the application is unable to repair the actual concern, some additional solutions can be implemented.

But, before heading towards the resolution methods, let’s understand how to prevent your workbook from getting corrupt. There are some preventive measures that prevent Excel workbooks from becoming corrupt or damaged. Saving the workbook often and creating a backup on a regular basis helps restore data if any damage occurs.

Excel error - File extension is not valid

A common error with workbooks is the ‘Excel file extension is not valid’ error. This error can be repaired in several ways. Let’s look at each:

Manual Repair of Corrupted Workbook

You can repair your Excel workbook manually by performing the following steps:

  1. Click on the File tab and then select Open
  2. Open dialog box will appear; select the corrupt workbook that you wish to access
  3. Click on the arrow button available next to Open and then select Open and Repair
  4. Next, do any of the following options:
    1. Click on Repair if you need to repair the maximum data from the workbook
    2.  Click on Extract Data if you wish to extract values and formulas from the Excel workbook. This is in case the repair workbook does not help

Save Workbook to Last Saved Version

If the Repair method still does not work, you may opt for this method. If you are editing an Excel spreadsheet and your workbook becomes corrupt before it is being saved on your system, you can recover your original worksheet by reverting to the last version. Follow the steps below:

  1. On the File tab, click on Open
  2. Then double-click on the name of the damaged workbook you just opened in Excel
  3. Click Yes to reopen the workbook

Save Workbook in SYLK Format

You may be able to resolve the ‘Excel file format not valid’ error by saving the damaged workbook in SYLK (Symbolic Link) format which helps solve printer corruption. This can be done by performing the steps below:

  1. Go to the File tab and then click on Save As
  2. In Save As, type options. Select SYLK (Symbolic Link) and click on Save
  3. If it indicates that the workbooks containing multiple sheets are not supported by the selected file format, click on OK to save the active worksheet
  4. If a message appears stating that the workbook may contain features that are not supported by the SYLK format, click Yes
  5. On the File tab, click Open
  6. Select .slk file you just saved and click Open
  7. Next, select Save As option from the File tab
  8. In the Save As type dialog box, select Excel Workbook
  9. Next, enter a new name for the workbook to create copy of the file without affecting or modifying the original file and then click on Save


  • When a workbook is saved in SYLK format, only the active sheet is saved
  • To access .slk files, you need to select SYLK Files or All Files in Files of type list
  • All corrupted worksheets need to be saved separately by opening the workbook repeatedly as only active worksheet is saved while saving to SYLK format

If you observed that Excel cannot open the file extension due to file corruption, which has made the workbook data inaccessible, you can then resort to repairing the file using a third-party application.

Stellar Phoenix Excel Repair Tool – An Ultimate XLS / XLSX Recovery Solution

This third-party Excel repair tool is an ultimate solution for ‘Excel file not valid‘ error message. The software repairs almost all types of corruption issues and offers additional benefits while repairing and saving the damaged file. These benefits include:

  • Capable of identifying corruption traces in individual Excel objects
  • Provides option to repair a file or folder
  • Restores recovered Excel file at user defined location on machine
  • Supports both XLS and XLSX file formats effectively
  • Preserves the properties as well as cell formatting while recovery
  • Recovers all Excel contents including table, cell comment, formula, chart sheet, image, filter, sort, etc.
  • Recovered data is stored in a new file, and the original file remains intact
  • Tool is available for both Mac and Windows Excel files

Although the built-in Excel repair procedure offers quite an easy way to deal with corruption, the third-party workbook repair application handles corrupt issues efficiently. The major benefit is that before investing in the full version of the tool, its trial edition can be explored to understand the functionality and check integrity and accuracy parameters. Its trial version allows you to preview the repaired and recoverable data from the corrupted Excel file.

How to recover unsaved Excel files

Imagine you had been working on a really important Workbook for hours and the system crashes. The file is not saved, and you just lost hours of work because you forget to hit the save button.

But what about when you realize that you made a mistake while working on the workbook an hour ago? How do you go back to an older version of the Excel file?

Well, don’t panic because we have compiled together some of the most efficient tips to recover unsaved Excel files and their older versions.

By default, Microsoft provides an AutoRecovery option which can recover files that were saved, but their latest version cannot be accessed because the system or Excel crashed.

Configure the AutoRecover Settings in Excel

  1. Go to the File tab and click on Options
  2. Click on the Save tab
  3. Make sure both ‘Save AutoRecover information every Z minutes’ and Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving’ are checked. You can also keep the autorecover duration to the smallest to make sure every file is saved
  4. Click on OK

After this, whenever you open Excel after a crash, you will be able to see the files that can be autorecovered. But, this only applies to files that have been saved at least once. For files that haven’t been saved at all, follow the steps in the next section.

Recover unsaved Excel file 

In order to recover an Excel file that you forget to save, follow the steps below

  1. Go to the file tab and click on ‘Open’
  2. Now click on the Recent Workbooks option on the top left
  3. Now scroll to the bottom and click on ‘Recover Unsaved Workbooks’ button
  4. Scroll through the list and search for the file you lost.
  5. Double-click on it to open it
  6. The document will open in Excel, now all you have to do is hit the Save As button

Recover overwritten Excel files

If you are using Excel 2010 or 2013, then you can easily recover an older version of the document. It is extremely helpful if you made a mistake on the Workbook and realized it late or you just want to see what the workbook looked like before.

To do this, here are the steps you need to follow

  1. Click on the File tab and select Info
  2. Now click on the manage versions tab. There you will be able to see all the versions that were autosaved by Excel

But you can also see these autosaved versions until you have saved the file. Once the current version of the file has been saved, all the previous autosaved files will disappear. To save them, you need to take the backup of the file.

Saving a backup of Excel file

Taking a backup of Excel files makes it possible to revisit older versions in case you made a mistake. This can be useful when you hit the save button when you didn’t mean it or when you delete the main original final.

Here is how you can take a backup in Excel 2010 and 2013

  1. Go to the File tab and click on ‘Save as’
  2. Now click on the Browse tab at the bottom
  3. A Save as window will open up. At the bottom of it, there is an option called Tools
  4. Click on Tools and select ‘General options’
  5. In the new Window, check on ‘Always create backup

Now every new Excel file that you create will have a backup file associated with it. But remember that backup Excel files have a different extension – .xlk

Overall, it’s very easy to recover Excel files even when you forgot to save them. All you have to do is not panic and follow the steps we mentioned.

Microsoft Excel Error – “The file is corrupt and cannot be opened”

We all have used Microsoft Excel and no matter what field of business we work in, Excel is an absolute necessity. It is a part of the very successful Microsoft Office suite which gets regular updates every year. Of course, Microsoft never disappoints when it comes to new updates of Microsoft Office but there have often been small bugs reported when users updated from an older version to the newer one.

When Microsoft launches a new version of MS Excel in MS Office then also provides a strong solution for many errors through KBs. Sometimes it becomes very confusing to fix some errors then user follows hit and trial option to fix them.

With the new Microsoft Excel 2010 and above versions, it was reported that the application throws an error when an Excel file that was created by an older version of Microsoft Excel is opened.

After upgrading from Microsoft Excel 2007 to 2010, the application throws the following error when a file created in Excel 2007 or an older version is opened in the 2010 version.

“The file is corrupt and cannot be opened”

Now, the first reaction to this message is always panic. You always fear that all your important data has been corrupted and deleted. But, though Microsoft Excel states if your file is corrupted then it is not really lost and you can definitely try to recover it. The important thing here is to focus on recovering the corrupted Excel files back anyhow. Since we all know how much sensitive data is held by Excel files and one small corruption could result in a lot of data loss.

Ways to resolve the Microsoft Excel Error

There are quite a few ways to resolve this particular Microsoft Excel Error, these include both manual methods and using a third party tool.

Changing the Protected View Settings

When you upgrade to Microsoft Excel 2010, the Protected View settings are changed by default. Most of the time, this is the problem why Excel throws the error. This is what you need to do to change the settings back again-

  1. Go over to the File Menu and click on Options
  2. In the Options window, choose the last tab,Trusted Centre
  3. Now click on ‘Trusted Center Settings
  4. In the new window, choose ‘Protected View
  5. Unchecked all the options available and click OK

After this, close the entire application and open it again. Though this should fix your problem, if it doesn’t, hope over to our next solution.

Changing Component Services Settings

Next way to get around this error is by changing Component Security Setting and here is how you can do that-

  1. Go over to the Search tab in the Start menu and type ‘dcomcnfg
  2. A new Component Services window with a three pane view will open
  3. In the left-most pane, expand the Computers folder
  4. Now, right click on My Computer and choose Properties
  5. Choose the Default Properties tab on the new window
  6. Tick mark the option ‘Enable Distributed COM on this computer’, set the value of ‘Default Authentication Level’ as ‘Connect’ and ‘Default Impersonation Level’ as ‘Identify
  7. Click on OK and restart Microsoft Excel

If the error still isn’t resolved by any of these methods or if these methods got you more confused, then we strongly recommend going with the last option.While the manual methods are the first way to go, they aren’t as effective as the software available in the market.

Using a third party tool
Sometimes the problem is not just with the settings of Microsoft Excel, instead the file can be actually corrupted partly or completely. In these situations, you need a reliable third party tool which can recover everything from corrupt excel file.

These tools are safe and secure as compared to the online repairing of the excel files. When you try any excel file recovery tool then, always make a copy of your file before using them.

So now, you never have to worry about any of your Microsoft Excel file getting corrupted.

Protecting and Hiding Information and Formulas

Thanks again to Nick Williams at Acuity Training for this guest post!

When creating an Excel spreadsheet that is going to be sent on, particularly to those less Excel savvy, it can be useful to restrict certain functionality, as well as hide information and formulas. This will stop the spreadsheet from ‘breaking’, where formulas stop working or reference the wrong data because somebody has been in and altered something they shouldn’t have, and also prevent people looking at figures used in calculations that they may not fully understand.

Hiding whole rows or columns

If the spreadsheet contains a row or column of data purely used for calculations, hiding it is the quickest and easiest way of preventing the data from being easily accessible. Simply right click on the row number or column letter, and select Hide from the dropdown menu that appears. To unhide the hidden row or column, highlight the rows or columns either side of the hidden data, right click again and select Unhide from the drop-down menu.

hiding information image 1

Protecting cells and hiding formulas

To prevent the content of cells being edited, or formulas being visible, it is necessary to set cell protection in the Format Cells menu. To access this, select the cell (or group of cells) that are to be protected and right click within the selection. From the dropdown menu that appears, select Format Cells. A dialog box will appear; select the Protection tab from here.

Hiding information image 2

There are two options here, Locked and Hidden. Ticking the box next to Locked will lock any cells that are selected. This means that it will not be possible to make any changes to their content. Data cannot be changed or deleted. Ticking the box next to hidden will hide any the information in the formula bar, preventing users from seeing the workings behind the data.

Once finished, click OK. So that it is still possible to work on the spreadsheet, neither of these changes will come into effect until the sheet has been protected.

Using Protect Sheet

To protect the sheet, click on the Protect Sheet icon on the Review ribbon. There are lots of options here, and depending on how much functionality the end user is to be left with, it is possible to tick all, none, or some of the available options.

Hiding information image 3

To lock cells and hide formulas, make sure the checkbox above the password field is ticked. This will only be applied to cells where cell protection has been turned on.

It is not necessary to enter a password if the intention is to just prevent the sheet from being accidentally modified, however, if the intention is to stop it from being changed deliberately, entering a password will prevent other users from being able to unprotect the sheet and make changes.

The options below the password field allow for users to have access to certain tools on the worksheet. By default, the only two that are ticked are Select locked cells and Select unlocked cells. This means that users can click on any cells within the sheet, allowing them to do things like copy and paste their content into another sheet or a Word document.

Format cells governs whether the user is able to change the appearance of the font, as well as the cell itself i.e. borders and backgrounds. It also allows access to the Format cells menu where options such as the type of number, or number of decimal places can be set. Format columns and Format rows allows column width and row height to be adjusted, and also lets users hide and unhide columns and rows.

The insert and delete options should be self-explanatory.

If Use AutoFilter is left unchecked, the arrow representing the AutoFilter dropdown will still appear, however, users will be unable to click on it. If it is checked, users will be able to filter the data, but will not be able to use the sort features on AutoFilter, unless the Sort option has also been ticked to allow users access.

Ticking Use PivotTable & Use PivotChart will allow the user to manipulate any PivotTables or PivotCharts in the worksheet. They will still appear if it is left unticked, but they will just function as tables i.e. the user will be unable to manipulate their content.

The Edit objects option controls whether the user is able to make changes to objects embedded into the worksheet, including things like images, charts, buttons and comments. In the case of objects with macros assigned which act as buttons, the user will still be able to click to run the macro, but will be unable to edit or delete the object.

Protecting scenarios by leaving Edit scenarios unticked will prevent changes being made to existing scenarios, but will not prevent new scenarios from being created.

Hope you enjoyed this lesson! Thanks again to Nick who works as a tutor on’s Excel courses for putting it together.

Video Lesson: Five Powerful Excel Tips

Make sure to download the most recent Master Workbook to follow along!

I’ve noted the time that each section starts in the video, but you may want to let it load completely first as I’ve had errors skipping around early.

1) Dynamic Named Ranges [0:13]

As a follow-up to the Named Ranges video, I go through some examples which have been partially modified from the Dynamic Named Ranges post on OzGrid.  Definitely check out that link for additional information about how to use the functionality!

Keyboard Shortcuts: New Named Range is ALT + MMD, and the Name Manager is ALT + MN.

To check what your named range is currently referencing, hit F5 (for Go To) and type in the dynamic named range into the reference field, and it will highlight that range.  This is useful since dynamic named ranges do not appear in the Name Box.

2) Find and Select -> Go To Special… [5:28]

An excellent feature in Excel is the Find and Select functionality, which includes the ability to select a certain subset of a range.  For example, you can easily select all cells within a range that contain: Blanks / Formulas / Visible Cells / Constants / Conditional Formats and a whole lot more…

Keyboard Shortcuts: For ‘Go To Special’, hit F5 and then ALT + S.

3) 3D Formulas & Editing – Formulas Across Multiple Sheets [7:32]

Do you have information that is spread across multiple sheets in the same format? For example, you may have the same sheet template with different monthly/weekly/daily information.  Using ‘3D formulas’ you could sum a certain cell or range across multiple sheets by indicating the starting and ending sheets (and that formula will grab everything in between as well).

Keyboard Shortcuts: Selecting multiple tabs is CTRL + SHIFT + Pg Up or Pg Dn.

4) Text to Columns [11:24]

Have a lot of data that’s jammed into a single cell?  You can use Text to Columns to separate that cell’s contents into multiple columns based on the location of spaces, commas, periods or other character(s) that you specify.  An example would be splitting a cell with full names into a first name and last name column based on the space.

Keyboard Shortcuts: ALT + DE brings up the Text to Columns option.

5) Customizing Ribbon Menu Tabs & Menu Groups [13:08]

There is a lot of customization that you can build into Excel so that you have custom menu tabs & groupings to help you get to the Excel features and functionality that you use most.

You may have noticed my ‘Ben’ grouping in previous videos on my ‘Home’ tab which has PivotTable, Name Manager, Freeze Panes, Data Validation, Conditional Formatting and other features that I use very frequently.  In this video I will show you how you can do the same!

Alternative to Merged Cells (Quick Tip)

Typically, many users are drawn to the Merged Cells feature in Excel, despite it having some significant disadvantages (especially related to copy/paste of ranges).

Frequently, Merged Cells are used in areas to group cells together visually, which can be done differently without causing the issues that merging does.

You can use an option within formatting called ‘Center Across Selection’ which takes the text from the leftmost cell of a range and centers it across the selected range.

Here is a screenshot of how to find it / use it by right clicking on a range and going to ‘Format Cells’.  Then click the Alignment tab as shown below (the Center Across Selection option):

Voila! The text is centered across multiple cells without the need for merging them.

You can also remove the gridlines in Excel to make it look a bit cleaner.

That option can be found here under the ‘View’ tab:

Quick Tip: Remove Duplicate Values from List

Many times there are instances when you’ll have a large amount of data and you’ll want to be able to extract a listing of one specific column with only one line for each item type (for example, you may have a listing of all 2,500 customer addresses with a country field and may want to know the full list of countries represented by the customers in the listing).

Here’s a quick and easy method I use to extract the information (and this method is also a small introduction into using logical formulas, which will likely be the next video).  Using an IF function and some sorting, you can extract a listing of information without the duplicate values.

Here’s a screenshot with instructions for how to do it (click to see enlarged version):

Remove Duplicate Values

Bonus HW assignment: Try to think of other ways that you may be able to get a similar listing without using my method above.

Excel Course: Book and Website Recommendations

I wanted to suggest a few books that I’ve used in the past which are extremely helpful in learning Excel.  I’d recommend checking any one of these books out as they have lots of useful information and examples for how to get the most out of Excel:

Excel for Dummies 2010 (All-in-One)

Excel 2010 Bible

Excel 2010: The Missing Manual

Excel 2010: Power Programming with VBA

The last book is specifically related to Macros and involves programming with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).  I would recommend any of these as self-teaching tools for doing additional learning outside of my lessons.  Many of these have earlier 2007/2003 counterparts which would be good if you have that version of Excel.

Additional Excel Online Training Resources

– Educational: Chandoo

– Educational: OZgrid

– Educational: Chip Pearson

– Educational: Mr. Excel

Educational: Excel Easy

– Help: Microsoft Online Answers Site

– Excel Templates: Vertex42’s list of free Excel templates, spreadsheets, and calculators.

Non-Excel Related Websites

Orlando – Web Design and WordPress Support.

Quick Excel Tip – Grouping Rows / Columns

As I mentioned in reply to haeso’s comment on the first video, there is method of joining rows or columns together called ‘grouping’.  It can be very useful when you want to have different ways of displaying data, or be able to collapse certain areas (underlying details, for example).

Here’s a screenshot explaining how you can do this using the menus in Excel 2010:

Explanation of Grouping Rows/Columns in Excel

A shortcut way to group rows or columns is to highlight the rows/columns you wish to group and use ALT+SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW to group the rows/columns, and ALT+SHIFT+LEFT ARROW to ungroup them. You can go multiple levels as well (so you could group rows 1-30, and then group rows 20-25 as a subgroup of the first). The levels are displayed at the top of the red box in haeso’s screenshot and can be clicked to view the entire sheet at any of the levels.  Remember: this can be done with both columns and rows (separately).