Recovering Office files

If you’ve managed to undelete an Office file and it won’t open in Word or Excel, there are several options to get back the information in the file.

Office applications use extremely complex file formats; for example, a Word file containing just a single word can still be 20KB, with the bytes storing the file history, formatting and view types. Office applications do try and recover files if your system has crashed, but this built-in feature has limitations and isn’t always successful.

Two programs that can recover Office files are OfficeRecovery and ExcelFix, but these don’t come cheap. A more affordable, albeit time-consuming alternative, is to manually trim the irrelevant bytes yourself using a hex editor. A good piece of freeware to use is XVI32, and handles large file sizes.