How to Repair "Excel File Name is not Valid" Error

This is very common for any user dealing with Excel files to encounter any of the many types of errors. Often an error about opening an existing excel file (which means a problem in accessing the desired excel file), or concerning saving a file or excel document (spreadsheet) occurs. There are several possible reasons for these errors and corresponding remedial actions that can help resolve such issues.

What Messages You May Meet When the Error Occurs?

An error by and large similar in nature appears as either of the following messages:

  • Filename not valid
  • The file could not be accessed.
  • The path you entered, '<filename>', is too long.
  • <filename> could not be found.
  • '<filename>.<extension>' could not be found (found in Excel 2000).

What Causes ‘Excel File Name is not Valid Error’?

'FileName is not valid': while creating and saving, or opening an Excel file such error may mean one of the following reason:

  1. Path of file including file name may exceed 218 number of characters limit
  2. The file name may be incorrect
  3. The path may not be appropriate
  4. File location or drive may not be correctly given
  5. Limitation of characters in name of folder
  6. Backslash between folders
  7. Characters in the file name
  8. The file name may be correct but had been renamed or move to another location or got accidentally deleted.

The difficulty in creating a link to another excel file arises from the limitation of 256 characters. Whereas 218 characters limit for defining the path is based as:

  • Excel sheet name, maximum of 31 characters.
  • Brackets and Apostrophes are used to indicate the workbook name.
  • An exclamation sign.
  • Reference of the cell.

This situation is, however, simple to deal with as one may either rename file or folder using a shorter name (not exceeding 218 characters) or moving the file to a shorter named folder. But the difficulty arises when an excel file gets corrupted or damaged.

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Method 1: Repair Excel With 'Open and Repair' feature

MS Excel's features facilitate an automatic recovery procedure in case it detects a corrupted Excel file. However, if recovery mode fails to start user may try recovery manually as shown below.

Step 1. Click File > Open.

Step 2. Click folder containing affected worksheet, and location

Step 3. Select in the dialog box the corrupted file

Step 4. Press arrow near the open button

Step 5. Click open & repair as highlighted here.


Apart from using the third party Excel Repair Tool or Excel file repair software, a few tips may help the user to recover or repair a corrupted Excel file.

Case 1. If Excel cannot open the file try following to resolve the issue yourself.

  1. Copy corrupt file on your hard-drive if it exists on a floppy.
  2. Try to find .xlb file keeping a backup as well. Now delete .xlb and restart Excel.
  3. Try to open the file in MS Word or Notepad which may let you recover data but not formatting.
  4. MS Excel 97/2000 viewer may let you view the data and print. Open the file using this free program to recover data. This program may recover even formatting as well as cell values.
  5. Use Excel XP which has better options for recovery.

Case 2. If an Excel file is open try following to resolve the issue yourself.

  1. Try on a different computer
  2. Don't run Excel from a floppy
  3. Switch off Auto-save
  4. Turn off the file-sharing option
  5. Save the file as a web page and reopen it as an Excel file.

Method 2. Disable the Add-ins Recently Installed

In some case, a few add-ins you installed may cause this kind of issue. If you can open the files in safe mode, there is an chance that one of the add-ins prevent the Excel file from opening. You can follow the below steps to remove or disable the add-in in Excel:

1. Selec the File tab, then click Options. In the pop-up window, click Add-Ins category.

2. You can see all active or inactive application add-ins in the Add-ins list. Select Excel Add-ins in the Manage box and click Go.

3. Uncheck the add-ins in the pop-up box and then click OK.

As for removing the add-ins, you need to uninstall the add-in through Control Panel or Settings.

Method 3. Change the Default File Format

As we know, the Excel file is saved in XLS format in Excel 2003 and earlier versions, while the later versions start to use XLSX to save the file. There is a few chance you encounter the error 'Excel file extension not valid' due to the incompatible file extension.

You can change the default file format to any other formats the Excel supports. It's easy to achieve this aim, click the 'Microsoft Office' button and choose Excel Options in Excel 2007. For Excel 2010 or the higher versions, click File > Export > Change File Type option. Then select one of the formats to save the file.

Finally check if the Excel file can be opened successfully.

Method 4: Resolve This Issue with the Excel Repair Tool

To repair corrupted Excel file many Excel repair Tools and Excel file repair software are available. Stellar Excel Repair Tool can handle errors such as "Unable to read the file" or "file is corrupt and cannot be opened". It can handle all Excel versions but up to Excel 2003. Supports all XLS versions.

Following the sequence of screen displays (for Wins) swiftly help to move step by step repairing and recovering Excel files that are corrupted or damaged. Option for Mac similarly may be used.

Step 1 Launch Excel file repair, and select corrupt Excel file from local drive and search.

repair corrupt Excel file step 1

Step 2 In the searched result section display all corrupt Excel file, select one or all start to repairing process

repair corrupt Excel file step 2

Step 3 Previewing the repaired files selected from the left bar.

repair corrupt Excel file step 3

Step 4 Saving repaired Excel file to a destination location.

repair corrupt Excel file step 4

Bonus: How to avoid Excel File get Corrupt

  • Ensure the system is shut down properly. For that matter close all applications prior shut down. However, due to circumstances beyond human control like immediate disconnection of the power supply may trigger file corruption due to improper closing of applications.
  • Try to install the latest anti-virus to keep your systems free from malicious attacks. Viruses always make excel file susceptible to corruption
  • Try to keep your storage space as much as possible free from bad sector chances of excel file corruption are high if data is saved in a bad sector.
  • Try to sort out issues present in the MS Excel application. Improper and unexpected shutting of an excel sheet triggers files corruption.
  • Try to handle small data when dealing with excel files. Enormous data on an excel sheet is a leading cause of file corruption.

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