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a friend has a corrupt excel file. When you attempt to open it in excel it says "File format is not valid". None of the tricks here work.

The file is Excel 2003 format. She sometimes edits it on excel 2010, but still saves in 2003 format so it works on the home computer. There are no charts or formulas or anything fancy. Just a multi sheet workbook where she records movies, books, restuarants, etc along with variaous comments and stuff.

The data is still in the file. I can extract all the raw ascii looking strings with a perl script. But this has no table layout so is not as useful, gives us a worst case base.

Also using tools such as ExcelFix and Recovery for Excel show most of the data all lined up properly in rows and columns. But she can't really afford to fork out the $1-200 for these tools so we cannot save the data.

Does anyone know of good open source tools or other methods I could use to extract the data from this corrupt file in a meaningful way. Namely still in a table format.

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When you say Perl, are you using a module such as Spreadsheet::ParseExcel? –  RedGrittyBrick Aug 31 '11 at 14:51
Nope, just a simple script to extract all strings of non-ctrl ascii characters which contained at least 4 consecutive alphanumerics. Very crude, brought in some crap and probably missed others, but at least got the guts of the data. –  Sodved Aug 31 '11 at 16:15
Sometimes (but not always), LibreOffice copes better than Excel with corrupt spreadsheets. Worth a try. –  Linker3000 Aug 31 '11 at 16:29
Nope, already tried both open and libre office. Thanks for the tip though. –  Sodved Sep 1 '11 at 3:56
Is it possible that the file extension has been manually tampered with? Have you tried changing it to .xls or .xlsx etc? –  variant Sep 1 '11 at 17:48

protected by Mokubai Aug 27 '14 at 21:03

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