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. You can occasionally repair a corrupted file, though most corrupted files can't be repaired and should be deleted or replaced.

How do I know if a file is corrupted?

Here is a simple test: If you try to open a file and it does not work properly, it is probably corrupted. If the file can be opened, edited, and saved without incident, though, don't worry about it. If the corrupted file is an important system or program file, Windows or another program will warn you that there is a problem and might recommend that you reinstall the program.

How do files get corrupted?

It's very rare for a file to become corrupted. The most common way it happens is when something goes wrong while a file is being saved. For example, the program saving the file might crash, or your computer might lose power just as the file is being saved.

What should I do if I encounter a corrupted file?

If the file can be repaired, you will need to find a program that can repair corrupted files (or at least salvage some of the data from within the file).

How do I avoid corrupted files?

Though it's very rare for a file to become corrupted, you can decrease the chances of creating corrupted files by protecting your computer's power with a surge suppressor or uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Also, always properly turn off your computer. Avoid forcing the computer to turn off by pressing and holding the power button (unless using the power button shuts down Windows normally). For more information, see Turning off your computer properly.

What if I can't fix a corrupted file?

You should delete the file. If you previously backed up your computer's hard disk, you might be able to retrieve an older version of the file. 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.