Corrupted files: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about corrupted files.

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What are corrupted files?

Corrupted files are files that no longer work properly. These can vary from files that you use regularly (such as pictures that you've imported from a digital camera) to system or program files that work behind the scenes.

What should I do if I encounter a corrupted file?

Most corrupted files can't be repaired and you should delete or replace them. However, you can occasionally use a program to repair a corrupted file (or at least salvage some of the data within the file). Some programs of this type are available on the web.

If the file is a system or program file, you can check your hard disk for errors. If any bad files are reported, Windows might be able to repair them. For more information, see Check a drive for errors.

What if I can't fix a corrupted file?

Either delete the file or, if you previously backed up your computer's hard disk, try to retrieve an older version of the file to replace the corrupted version. For more information about retrieving an older version of a file, see Previous versions of files: frequently asked questions.

If the corrupted file is an important system or program file, you might need to reinstall the program that the corrupted file is associated with.

How do I prevent files from becoming corrupted?

It's rare for a file to become corrupted. Typically, it happens when something goes wrong while the file is being saved. For example, the program saving the file might stop working, or your computer might lose power just as the file is being saved.

You can decrease the chances of a file becoming corrupted by protecting your computer's power with a surge suppressor or with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Also, always make sure you turn off your computer properly. Avoid pressing and holding the power button because it usually forces Windows to shut down abruptly. For more information, see Turning off your computer properly.

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