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Office 2010: The file is corrupt and cannot be opened

Updated on November 29, 2013

This error message is corrupt and shouldn't be displayed

This error message is horribly misleading, and adds to the frustration a user may face after upgrading to Office 2010.
This error message is horribly misleading, and adds to the frustration a user may face after upgrading to Office 2010. | Source

Error after Upgrading to Office 2010

I don't often like to upgrade to anything, because every time I do, there seems to be an endless stream of problems and issues that require multiple days to correct. (The software updates alone are enough to make one insane.)

Even a dumpster rental company in Northern VA needs to update their software from time to time. In this case, we needed to take advantage of SharePoint Workspace 2010, so out with the old and in with the new.

Upon upgrading from Microsoft Office 2007 to 2010, I found that I could not open a couple of my Office files, namely an Excel file (.xlsx) after the upgrade was complete. As I had not backed up one of the files, I felt incredibly frustrated and burned by yet another Microsoft upgrade. But, having gone around this block more than once, I knew that there had to be a reason other than what the reported corruption message stated.

Open file from Windows Explorer vs. File / Open

One of the way to open an Office document is to double-click on the file name in Windows Explorer. Doing this triggers the default behavior, which is to open the file in the native client. So, if you double click on a file with the .docx extension, then typically this will cause Microsoft Word to open, and then display the document. Other extensions, open other clients like .xlsx for Excel and .pptx for PowerPoint.

In previous upgrades, I have experienced issues where there is breakdown in this process, and it will give an impression of a problem with the file, but it's really with the setup of the application and Windows. So, instead of being able to open a file this way, I would have to open the client (Word, Excel, etc), then use the File / Open option instead.

So, when I encountered this error message, this was the first thing I tried in effort to quickly get back to working. Unfortunately, I got the error message using both the Open from Windows Explorer and File / Open from the client.


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Print from Windows Explorer

Another option that can clue you into what kind of situation you have is to use the Print option from Windows Explorer. This option will open the file in the client, and then send it to your default printer. Obviously I don't recommend trying this test on a 100 page Word document, so take precaution before firing this command.

Anyway, when you see how this option reacts with client and the file, it can help to tell you whether you have a corrupted file or incorrect setup.

The file context menu is found by right-clicking on a file, and displays numerous command to enact on a file.
The file context menu is found by right-clicking on a file, and displays numerous command to enact on a file. | Source

File Properties

All files have properties, and these are another source of potential angst. First, if you don't know that they're there, then you won't know the hidden functionality they can perform. For example, some times the Read Only property will get set to True, and then users get frustrated that they cannot edit it. By simply unchecking the box, everything goes back to normal.

One of the problem with properties, is that they are controlled by Microsoft, and they can add, change, or delete their use whenever they deem fit. This may not play into your scheme, so you must be careful if you ever try to rely on them for anything.

In this case, I went to the properties dialog to figure out what was new. Knowing that Microsoft is always trying to stay one step ahead of hackers, crackers, any other evil doers in the computing world. With that, they often add new security features that may have less-than-desired side-affects to unsuspecting users like you and me.

To expose a file's properties, right-click on the filename, then choose Properties.

File Properties

The file properties dialog displays properties about a file.
The file properties dialog displays properties about a file. | Source

Security: Unblock

As expected, when I opened the properties dialog for the "corrupted" file, my eye was immediately drawn to the bottom of the screen. In past years, the 'Attributes' section was always the last section on the screen. But, now there's a new section titled 'Security' with the following paragraph:

This file came from another computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer.

And to the right of that, there is a button with the caption 'Unblock'.

With great anticipation, I slowly, trembling, reached for my mouse. Could this be the solution to my dire need to open my file? If I click this, will I release a virus that will send my banking history directly to a Nigerian Internet Cafe? Oh, what to do?!

I clicked it, and the file was magically no longer "Corrupt", and my bank account is still as empty as it was when I started.

Blocked = Corrupt?

Having spent the most part of my life dealing with Microsoft, I understand that they don't always spend enough quality time with their products to prevent ambiguity, confusion, and consternation to the end-users.

As much as I'd like find the intern who created this error message, knock the latte out of their hand and scream "Fix THIS!", I don't bother to point out things like this to them anymore. For the most part, it will never get 'fixed', because they'll tell you that it's not broken. It's integrated with some other process where this is acceptable behavior, so it can't be changed.

So, you simply have to update your personal Microsoft glossary to fit this egregious misnomer.

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    • profile image

      Justi 2 years ago

      For legitimate, uncorrupted files, this error is most often caused by the protected mode which is enabled.

      If you disable it, you won't see the error any more.

    • ClarkSteveB profile image
      Author

      Steve Clark 2 years ago from Northern, VA

      Just so you know, you're advocating removing a safety feature. I will never recommend this, but you are correct.

      (I believe it is possible for admins to lock this such that users cannot turn it off. So this will hopefully help those users.)

    • profile image

      Vic 2 years ago

      Muchas gracias

    • ClarkSteveB profile image
      Author

      Steve Clark 2 years ago from Northern, VA

      De nada

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