Software

10+ ways to recover a corrupted Word document

Few computer experiences are worse than having a Word document blow up on you. But before you resign yourself to losing the document contents, check out these techniques for salvaging your text.

Few computer experiences are worse than having a Word document blow up on you. But before you resign yourself to losing the document contents, check out these techniques for salvaging your text.


If you've ever had an important document get corrupted, you know the despair that sets in. You've lost critical information and/or countless hours of work - or so it appears. But hang on: You may not have to accept data loss. Here are some things you can try when you're dealing with a corrupted Word document.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Don't assume that the document is corrupt

Automatically assuming that a document is corrupt can be a big mistake. It could be Word or even Windows that is having the problem. Before you start trying to restore a backup or repair a file, try opening other documents. Try opening your "corrupt" document from another computer. You may be surprised by what happens.

2: Make a copy of the document

This isn't really a recovery trick, but it is a crucial preliminary step. If you don't have a backup copy of the corrupt document readily available, make a copy of the corrupted file right away and store it on removable media. There's a chance that the corruption within the file could become worse over time or that you could destroy the file while trying to recover it. Making a backup copy of the file now may save you even more heartache later on.

3: Check your email

In many cases, you may have emailed a copy of the document to someone at some point. If so, a copy of the document may still be in Outlook's Sent Items folder, attached to the email message you sent. Try selecting the Sent Items folder and using Outlook's Search feature to look for the document's name.

4: Run CHKDSK

Try running CHKDSK against the volume containing the corrupted file. Your problem could be caused by corruption at the file system level, and CHKDSK may be able to fix the problem. If nothing else, running CHKDSK allows you to test the integrity of the file system, which allows you to determine whether the problem exists at the file system level or within the document itself.

5: Try exporting the file

If you can open the file in Word, try saving the file in an alternate format. Sometimes, using a format such as RTF or TXT will cause some of Word's codes to be stripped from the document, which often fixes the problem.

6: Extract the raw text

Although saving the Word document as an RTF or TXT file usually works pretty well, that technique does you no good if Word won't open the file. One approach is to use another word processor that supports Word documents. Alternatively, you can use a file editor (a hex editor) to manually extract anything salvageable from the file.

7: Use Word's text converter

You may also be able to recover the text portion of a document using Word's text converter. Click File | Open. When the Open dialog box appears, select the troublesome Word document. Then, choose Recover Text From Any File from the Files Of Type drop-down list and open the document. This filter will import straight ASCII text from any file. You will lose Word formatting and nontext items such as graphics, but you should at least be able to extract most of the text information from the file. Note that this method is limited to documents in the Word 97-2003 format (not docx or dotx files).

8: Use Open And Repair

Word XP and later offer an Open And Repair option, which you can use to force Word to attempt a recovery. Just select the file in the Open dialog box and choose Open And Repair from the Open drop-down list in the bottom-right corner. This isn't necessarily foolproof, but it does work on a lot of problematic documents.

9: Use a Vista shadow copy of the document

Windows Vista automatically saves shadow copies of some files to the hard drive. If a shadow copy of your document exists, it may be possible to recover a recent version of the document. To do so, right-click on the document and select the Properties command from the shortcut menu. When the document's properties sheet appears, select the Previous Versions tab. (This tab exists only for files stored on NTFS volumes.) The Previous Versions tab will show you any previous versions of the file that are available. For more on the shadow copy feature, see How do I... Configure and use shadow copy in Microsoft Windows Vista?.

10: Rebuild the file header

Although every Word document is different, Word documents that are created by a common version of Word have a common file header. I can't tell you exactly what this header contains, because it varies from one version of Word to the next. What I can tell you is that if you use a file editor to examine multiple known good Word documents, it will quickly become apparent which bits each of the documents has in common. Once you have determined which part of the file is the header, you can copy the header bits from a known good document and use the editor to paste those bits into your corrupt document, overwriting the existing header in the process. If the header was the portion of the document that was damaged, this technique will fix the problem.

11: Use a recovery program

Several third-party applications on the market are designed to recover corrupt documents. One of the best known products is OfficeRecovery. Another popular product is Ontrack Easy Recovery. Data recovery products like these can have a hefty price tag, and depending on the extent of the damage, they may or may not actually be able to repair your file.


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About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

47 comments
zeb khan
zeb khan

Hi

Please help me. My all word files are corrupted. I am using Office 2010.

stevensmiith
stevensmiith

I have tried these methods several time..But at last I have searched online and found a Word Recovery tool which helps me to recover corrupt word file within just few clicks..I will also prefer you to use this tool. Source link: http://www.word-recovery.taskmanagerfix.com

kritchernos
kritchernos

You would first need to verify if the document in question is open protected (the password is only needed to open the document) or if the document is encrypted (which means the password is used to decrypt the document).

If it is the first then you may still be able to get the content extracted by recovering the text in Microsoft Word. If it is the latter then I'm afraid there is probably no way to recover the data. If the data is corrupted then decryption process won't work and there is no easy way to get the data back.

And use Recovery Toolbox for Word. Instructions on how to do that and other recovery options can be found here: http://www.repairword.recoverytoolbox.com/

techrepublic2013
techrepublic2013

If you cannot copy the corrupt files, first use CBD(Copy Bad Disk) to copy them to a good drive, then try other recovery tools to recover them. CBD also logs the positions of unreadable bytes.

rare_air
rare_air

As usual i was working on an important design document and word suddenly does not seem to open ... changing to .rtf worked like a charm ... thanks a lot your a life saver.

bertleen
bertleen

Try any third party word file repair tool, If above two methods fail to repair corrupt word document file then I will suggest you try Kernel for Word repair software to repair and recover corrupt and damage doc, docx file from MS office database.

socrtwo
socrtwo

Including this list's link I've got 11 groups of links of free ways for recovering Word 97-2003 docs and 14 groups of links to free ways to recover text from Word 2007 and 2010 docx files. It's here: http://socrtwo.info/word_repair.htm

datarecovery
datarecovery

so wonderful, the methods I have tried for several times. addition, I think use a data recovery tool is better.

datarecovery
datarecovery

I think Wondershare data recovery is better than the 11th.

JonathanPDX
JonathanPDX

"Don't assume that the document is corrupt" That's got to be one of the funniest things ever written! If it's Word, we automatically assume the document IS corrupt! We work with hundreds of Word documents every day and are never, ever surprised to learn that one is messed up in some way...especially if a table is involved in any manner. I am constantly amazed at how many ways a Word document can be corrupted by the very application that creates it. Then it won't even have the decency to open the file, leaving you to depend on some other, non-Microsoft application, to fix it. Someday, someone will create a word processing application that actually works to protect the content from corruption and where the CONTENT will be more important that bells, whistles and "ribbons".

jonc2011
jonc2011

Word up to version 2003 stores its formatting changes attached to the last paragraph end mark of each. So if the formatting gets corrupted, try copying the entire doc apart from the last para mark and pasting it into a new document. Haven't used this for a few years, but it used to work well.

mjacquet
mjacquet

N?1 might be a very efficient way to spread a virus around !! First scan the file with an efficient antivirus program.

mjacquet
mjacquet

Be careful about n? 1 : it's a nice way to spread a virus around!! Scan the document first with a reliable antivirus.

egutierrezg
egutierrezg

All you need is open the Word, Excel or PowerPoint file with Open Office, and the work is done!. Preferentially, keep the file in Open Office format.

oscard
oscard

There is another way to recover a Word document that does not open: simply open a blank document and insert the damaged document in the blank one. In Word 2003, once the new blank document is open, go to Insert > File and select the document from the list. You may have to browse elsewhere to find the document. In Word 2007, go to this link: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA101212521033.aspx The new document will now have all the information of the damaged document and you will be able to continue working with it. It is advisable to enable "Make backup copies." However, to use this feature, you need to close and reopen your document every hour to make sure that the changes become part of the backup copy. Another problem with Word is that tables information becomes corrupt with usage. Rather than copying an existing table to start a new one, either create one from scratch or keep an unused table to use it as a template. Since Word allows users to create their own table styles, it should not be that much of a deal to create a new table each time you need one.

hafizullah
hafizullah

There are many reasons a Word document can become corrupt, so no single approach will work all the time. Try opening Word with the command line winword.exe /a which causes Word to ignore the normal.dot (default template) file and default preferences (in the Registry). If there is a problem in the normal.dot or Registry, Word should open and perhaps your file will open normally, as well. Try "round-tripping" the file through RTF or HTML, i.e., Save As "Rich Text Format" or "HTML," and reopen it in Word. The formatting instructions in a Word document are binary, held in the bottom half of the disk image of the file. RTF import/export (RTF is essentially a text file with embedded formatting codes and minimal binary instructions) was designed to ignore any such instructions that it doesn't understand, and so can act as a filter when an instruction is telling Word to do something imnpossible. The same thing obtains by round-tripping the file through HTML. If there are graphics in the file and the round-tripped document is truncated, it may be that the next thing in the original file was a corrupted graphic and the export converter wrote-out the file up to that point and quit. This might help you identify the corrupt location in the document. I've noticed that the statistics application SAS can emit corrupt Word tables, which then behave capriciously when formatting them in Word. The solution to this is to cut the table and Paste Special as RTF, not HTML (which is the default paste format in recent versions of Office. The problem is that the end-of-row markers are not properly rendered coming out of SAS, and round-tripping through RTF fixes this. You can also try opening the file in WordPad. Each version of WordPad has a Word converter that will work for the version of Word that was current when WordPad shipped. You may lose some formatting if your document is complex, but you should get all the text back.

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

I had this happen to a user just the other day. I was able to open the word document in Wordpad...saved it as a Wordpad document, then reopened it in Word. It was a lengthy legal document and both the user and I were relieve that not only was the text saved, but the majority of the formatting as well.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

One of the disabled-by-default features of Word is the ability to preserve a backup copy of the document as it was before the most-recent save. In Word 2007, click the logo, choose "Word Options" button at the bottom, then click "Advanced" and scroll down to "Save". Check the "Always Create Backup Copy". It will make your save a little slower, and you will accumulate backup copies, but it's a lot easier to go back one revision than to try to salvage what's left after a corruption. Disk space is cheap, fix-after-the-fact is aggravating. Word "used to" keep backups by default, but that was many years ago. The feature is still available; it just needs to be enabled.

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

Can't say I ever saw a corrupt .TXT file. :-) Even EDLIN can handle them!

linuxpete
linuxpete

This is the one and only thing you need for corrupt M$ office anything!

Ron_007
Ron_007

Prior to the DOCX xml text based document format introduced in Office/Word 2007, Word DOC files were complex binary constructs. A small disk corruption or electrical blip while saving could "flip a bit" that could corrupt the document. Here is a link to a MS page that describes their process for dealing with corruption (including more specific instructions for copying to a new blank doc): http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;q87856 This link is to a page that describes another process created by expert word users: http://www.wopr.com/cgi-bin/w3t/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=wrd&Number=197827&Search=true&Forum=All_Forums&Words=197827&Match=MessNum&Searchpage=0&Limit=40&Old=allposts&Main=197827 http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=820919 - How to troubleshoot problems that occur when you start or use Word 2003 or Word 2002 Here are a few more misc. related tips I've collected from various sources originally written for older versions of Word going back to Word 97, not all will fit current versions 2003/2007: 1.4.5 Cleanup Dup/Unneeded *.DOT files There is one thing I found to be the source of weird, unexplained "this-computer-only" problems when I was doing Help desk: Multiple copies of the same template or templates, either in the same directory or in other directories. Multiple copies of normal.dot, multiple copies of other templates. Once I removed all the duplicates, things went back to normal. I think what happens is normal.dot loads, then the templates in the startup directory load -- if there's a duplicate normal.dot, it loads again and sort of resets everything, if you know what I mean. So you might try searching the computer for dups and get rid of them. Note: If there are backup copies, put them into a totally separate backup directory someplace where Word can't find them. 1.4.6 Toolbar problems - Delete *.PIP Office 2K uses what are called .pip files to store where and how the toolbars act. These files can get "corrupt". If you search your hard drive for word.pip and delete it, with Word closed of course, then re-open Word and make your toolbar change. When you exit Word it will create a new word.pip. 1.4.6.1 Check for macros, addins or corrupt templates I would check to see if any macros, add-ins, or corrupt normal or global templates are affecting this. First place to look is using the SYSTEM INFO button in the Help / About Microsoft Word / System Info (Button). Look under applications, M$ Word. In there it will show what templates and addins are currently loaded (including full path to them). If there is anything other than NORMAL.DOT loaded, then continue with following steps: a) Rename normal.dot & start Word. Close & save changes to template. See if you can cure the toolbar problem. b) Check for add-ins, rename them or drag them out of their folders & see if that makes a difference. If not, put them back. If so, put them back one at a time until you reproduce the problem. In Win 98 & Office 2000, add-ins are found: (1) C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Microsoft\AddIns (2) C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Addins You can also look in the registry under: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins and see what is being loaded. If you change the LoadBehavior value from 3 to 2 then it will not be loaded on startup. 3) Finally, you might have to delete & rebuild the Data key in the registry: There are two other things to check first, since they are much easier to do. I would try the following steps: (I already mentioned 1 & 2 above) 3. Back up all your options. Go to Tools/Options & make a change.any change. Go to Tools/AutoCorrect/Autoformat as you type tab & make a change. Now record a macro (name it, e.g. MyOptions) & then go to each of the tabs & change it back the way you want. Then stop the recording & save the macro in any template. 4. Back up the registry. 5. Close Word. Go to Start/Run & type REGEDIT. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Word\Data & either rename or delete the key. Restart Word & the key will be rebuilt. You will lose your customized options, but that's why you recorded a macro first. You can run the macro & restore your options easily. There are two other changes that can take place. Your standard & formatting toolbars will share one line. If you use these two toolbars & don't like that option, click Tools/Customize... & untick "Standard & Formatting Toolbars share one row". If you don't like to use clipit, you also have to press F1, choose Options, then the Option tab, & untick "Use the Office Assistant". 1.4.7 Trouble Shooting Corrupt Doc?s 1.4.7.1 IF THE ORIGINAL IS NOT CORRUPT: 1. Make sure that you have no temp files lying around. Before starting Word, do a reboot & then delete all ~*.* & *.tmp files. 2. Make sure that when you save it, you're saving it in the correct format (in the 'save as type' box). 3. When you save it, make sure that fast saves are off (for older editions of Word). 4. In addition to making a copy through Word, make another thru Windows Explorer. If the original is corrupt, here are steps that I copied from a MS KB site. 1.4.7.2 Corrupt Document: Troubleshooting To rule out other factors, use the following troubleshooting steps: 1. Check for similar behavior in other documents. 2. Check for similar behavior in other programs. 3. Take the file in question to another computer and attempt to duplicate the behavior. 4. Use a different printer driver and attempt to duplicate the behavior. 5. Rename any templates attached to the document and attempt to duplicate the behavior. 6. Change other system components (such as video drivers or fonts) and attempt to duplicate the behavior. For example, if you are using an OEM version of a video driver, switch to a Microsoft Windows video driver using the Windows Setup program. 7. Disable any third-party programs that are running (such as terminate- and-stay-resident programs [TSRs], font managers, screen savers, and system shells), and then attempt to duplicate the behavior. If the problem occurs only with a single document after you perform these steps, your document has probably been damaged. 1.4.7.3 Things to Try If the Document Will Open 1.4.7.3.1 Large Tables in Word 2000 and up Starting with Word 2000, I've noticed the problem of long tables slowing Word. This is because of the added complexity of the tables (e.g. nesting), even if you don't use those features. You can try the following, if it's acceptable: 1. Break the table up into smaller tables. If you don't have to change column sizes or sort, you can break the tables & use a 1 pt. paragraph mark between them. You may have to copy the header rows over between tables. 2. If you're not using the advanced features, you can set Tools/Options/Compatibility for Word 97. 3. If you have the same number of columns throughout the table, convert it to text & then back to a table again. This will often rid the table of corruption, if any. Before doing any of the above, I would make a copy of the document. This is a good habit any time you're going to make some major change. 1.4.7.3.5 Copy the Undamaged Portions of the Document to a New Document Sometimes you can determine the location of file corruption in your document. In such cases, copy everything except the damaged portion to a new file, and then use the following steps to reconstruct your document: 1. After you copy the undamaged portions of your document to a new file, save a copy of the damaged document in Text Only format. 2. Open the Text Only file. Copy the text from this file and paste it into the file that contains the undamaged portion of your document. 3. Reformat the sections you pasted in step 2, and then save the recovered document. 1.4.7.4 Things to Try If the Document Will Not Open 1.4.7.4.1 Open the Damaged Word Document in Draft Mode To switch to draft mode in Word, use either of the following procedures: On the View menu, click Normal. On the Tools menu, click Options, select the View tab, and select the Draft Font option. -or- For Word 6.x and 7.x, run the following macro to turn off screen updating, open your damaged document, switch to draft mode, and then reactivate screen updating: Sub Main ScreenUpdating 0 FileOpen .Name = "\Filename.doc" ' include the path and substitute your file name ToolsOptionsView .DraftFont = 1 ScreenUpdating End Sub NOTE: In this macro, substitute the name of your damaged document for the "Filename.doc" argument text. Using this macro may enable you to open documents that you cannot otherwise open due to damage that affects printer setup, page layout, or screen updates in Word. For example, if a general protection (GP) fault occurs in Word before the document is opened, you may be able to avoid the GP fault by opening the document using the above macro.

bkdirks
bkdirks

Great suggestions, there! If the document can be opened at all, round-tripping to XML or HTML is by far the most effective technique around for cleaning up invisible "junk" in the document. Works well for Excel documents too.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

OO has been my first resort when Word will not open one of its own files since about 2001 when my employer went to OfficeXP. Barring disk corruption, I have a 100% success rate.

cbnsingram
cbnsingram

OpenOffice has made me look like a star more than once, when the CEO had problems with WORD files. It also converts a larger number of different formats TO Word format than WORD does. My CEO is an ex-attorney, and Open Office is the best way I've found to open and convert ancient Word Perfect versions.

socrtwo
socrtwo

1. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/918429 - use Microsoft's exhaustive methods. 2. http://www.troublefixers.com/repair-corrupt-word-document/ - use Open and Repair facilities in Word. 3. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290946 - use the extract text from any document facility in Word. 4. Try to convert the text using a text/data extracting/converter service like: http://saveofficedata.com/ (specially designed for corrupt files), http://www.docx-converter.com/ , http://www.zamzar.com/ , http://www.cometdocs.com/ , http://www.youconvertit.com/ConvertFiles.aspx , http://docmorph.nlm.nih.gov/docmorph/docmorph.htm , http://www.freefileconvert.com/ and probably others. 5. http://www.repairmyword.com/ - Try the freeware Repair My Word. 6. http://godskingsandheroes.info/software/#ddoc2txt - Try the freeware Damaged DOCX2TXT. 7. http://godskingsandheroes.info/software/#CMD - Try the freeware command line app CMD Corrupt OfficeOpen2Txt. 8. http://silvercoders.com/en/products/doctotext - Try the open source app by SilverCoders, doctotext. 9. http://docx2txt.sourceforge.net/ - Try the open source app by Sandeep Kumar, Docx to Text converter. 10. Repair the zip aspect of the file with a free zip repair app adn then try to open again in Word. Free zip repair programs: http://www.s2services.com/zip-specific.htm and http://www.s2services.com/zip-suites.htm . Bonus 11. Try opening the Word file in another Office Suite or Word Processor - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_office_suites and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_word_processors .

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

And it's not enough to select "Always Create Backup Copy". You should DISABLE (clear the checkbox) of "Allow fast saves". You want a full backup. Yes, a full save takes a few seconds longer on a novel-length file. Big deal. Also make sure "Allow background saves" and "Save autorecover info every:" are enabled. Ten minutes seems about right for the latter. Another overlooked point is that you should save (CTRL+S) EVERY FEW MINUTES. (I learned this from bitter experience almost 30 years ago.) The more-often you save, the closer the backup will be to what you were working on. And need I add that critical files should be backed up to a floppy, Zip disk, external drive, thumb drive, etc, once a day?

JimTheGeordie
JimTheGeordie

One trick (in XP at least) is to turn Autosave on. This will save your Word file every 10 minutes or so. If you take some time to write a document, you will find a series of .tmp files somewhere in the Applications Data area. These are readable by Word and the latest can be renamed. This is particularly useful if the corruption occurs (power outage or whatever) while still editing the document.

desirawson
desirawson

Doesn't do much good when the computer won't boot and the person (usually a family member or co-worker) hasn't bothered to create a boot disk or recover disk... There are programs and companies that will charge up to $1200 to "maybe" recover your files - guess what - they don't and not only do they charge you the whole $1200 for the program which they are using on all of their customer's computers, but they usually burn up the hard drive (70%) and then charge you for a new hard drive and the labor hours it took for them to do NOTHING that I couldn't have accomplished/ruined by myself.

VDP
VDP

I first used StarOffice, now OpenOffice, back in the 90s to fix corrupt Excel v4.3 files. For some reason, our accounting department had a couple of Excel files that would go bad from time to time. First time we restored from tape backup and lost a days worth of work. Next time I tried StarOffice and fixed the file in a matter of seconds with no loss of work. OpenOffice is a great product and is only getting better with time. Really no need for a 12-step recovery process with MisSOffice.

desirawson
desirawson

I don't see any mention of a virus in any of these recovery options including the programs. I have found that there are many programs that are ripping people off and claiming they "may" be able to recover the document (a book in the making) only to be charged $1200 to find out that not only was the document not recovered but the hard drive was fried in the effort. Anybody know anything about this?

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

... when you have 11 ways to TRY to recover your work? Make backups or, sooner or later, loose your data.

rngunter
rngunter

The times are changing and M$ Office is the next Word Perfect. OO: multiple formats, multiple OS's, FREE, and it works like it should. It doesn't mess up the files in the first place. I think it's wonderful too b/c I'm stuck w/ an XP machine at work and have Linux at home. With OO, I don't have to worry about file compatibility.

dmeireles
dmeireles

First of all: "Detect and repair"??? C'mon, are we talking IT or are we talking about Level1 Support Desks, for who the solution to *EVERY* problem is repair, reinstall and reset settings to security minimals!? if you want to go that way, you can suggest going to "%userprofile%\application data" and "CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\OfficeXX" and delete or rename the user's preference files/keys. Now, about word... Why use other tools when openoffice does the job right!? I mean, it even cleans the fat and junk out of the file (usually it gets lighter) and it has given me better results than office2007...

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

OO to fix Word and Excel problems since about '03. It has worked flawlessly for me many, many times.

desirawson
desirawson

Is there a way to recover Word Docs through DOS? The computer had a trojan so when it booted up none of the programs would load. Trying to open any program through Task Manager would immediately freeze the machine. Any suggestions?

JonathanPDX
JonathanPDX

Another is SAVING the document occasionally. We have users who work for hours on documents and never, ever press SAVE...then when something goes wrong they sometimes lose all that work. Sure, they have the auto-backup feature, but that's never a sure-fire reliable backup.

Dyalect
Dyalect

FREE. And a better product to begin with.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

OO has saved many an important file for me (well, for my users, anyway) through the years.

GrizzledGeezer
GrizzledGeezer

But an inexpensive hard drive and a case for an external drive (if you don't already have one). Disconnect all the other hard drives, and do a "vanilla" installation of the OS on the new drive. Mount the corrupt drive in the case. You will then be able to read the OS-corrupted hard drive without interference and recover what you want. And perhaps even fix the drive. I've used this technique to remove stubborn malware from the main drive.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

These instructions assume your PC will recognize USB drives and load the appropriate drivers. Connect the drive to the PC before booting. When you hear the beep that signals POST is complete, press F8 repeatedly as fast as you can. You should get a boot menu that will allow you to boot to Safe Mode. Unless your OS is completely hosed, you should be able to open an Explorer window and copy the files to a USB drive. If Explorer refuses to start, try booting into Safe Mode Command Prompt. Attempt a directory listing on the USB drive: [pre]dir e:[/pre] This letter will depend on the number of internal CD/DVD drives you have: your hard drive is C:, the first CD-ROM is D:, etc. If this is successful, change directories to the documents folder. In WinXP, this command is [pre]cd "c:Documents and Settings\&username\My Documents"[/pre] Now type the command [pre]xcopy *.* /s e:"[/pre] where "e:" is the drive letter for a USB drive. If this step does not work, your remaining Windows-based option is to move your hard drive into a functioning PC and copy the files there. Or you could download and burn a Live Linux CD (I recommend Ubuntu), boot to that and use the file manager to move the files from the hard drive to a USB drive.

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