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Recovering damaged or corrupted DOCX Word 2007 documents

If you’ve used Microsoft Word enough in your lifetime you’ve likely encountered a document that was fine yesterday only to find out today it’s completely trashed. Word documents, more than any other binary file type in my experience, have a propensity to become corrupt and generally unreadable to the user. Rarely can the cause of the corruption be identified but some theorize that modifying the document with many different versions of Word, even though they are all supposedly compatible, uncovers the potential problem. This theory carries some weight because different versions of Word often handle a corrupt document in different manners. For example, a corrupt document may cause one version of Word to crash open opening of it, while another will display a mixture of text and binary characters. Nevertheless, the contents of the document are not easily usable which, needless to say, can be quite devastating if the document is of any importance and the backup is non-existent.

In such situations of damaged and corrupted documents, the user has just a few options. One option is to attempt to recover portions of the text contained in the document by opening it in Notepad. This process is often tedious because you are forced to filter through portions of garbage to pull out the relevant bits. Secondarily, this is not something recommended for lengthy documents – again, because of the extra formatting contained in a typical Word document must be parsed.

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Another option is leveraging the free Windows application Damaged-DOCX2TXT. At its simplest explanation, Damaged-DOCX2TXT somewhat automates the process a user would be forced to undertake using the Notepad situation above. The interface is minimalistic with just a typical File->Open where you pass the file that you want recovered. After processing, you are presented with just the text of your document – the initial formatting and fonts will be unfortunately lost. With the plain-text in hand, it can be copy and pasted into Word where all the extra flair can be reapplied.

While Damaged-DOCX2TXT isn’t a miracle worker, sometimes the recovering of the actual text content is sufficient when previously you felt all was lost. One other limitation of the portable software is its requirement that the initial Word document be in the Word 2007+ .docx file type. However, this software is free, and might save a lot of time in some cases.

Damaged DOCX2TXT requires the Microsoft .Net version 2 framework. Using a GUI front end and a Perl coded back end, Damaged DOCX2TXT will extract the text even from damaged or corrupted Word 2007 docx files where Word 2007 itself fails to salvage text. It can also be simply used as a viewer of the text in a docx file without having Word 2007.

Reviewed by HowInTheTech


Update 02-05-14:

If you follow the link in the original post, it will bring you to the numerous products, specialized on the MS Office data recovery. Most of the programs are free to use. Choose and try the one which fits your particular needs.

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