How to Open Corrupted PDF File

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August 31, 2023

PDF (Portable Document Format) has become the standard file format for transferring and sharing documents due to its universal compatibility and consistency across various devices. However, there are times when you may come across a corrupted PDF file that refuses to open or display correctly. This can be especially frustrating when the file contains crucial information. In this article, we will guide you through the steps on how to open a corrupted PDF file and offer potential solutions to fix them.

How can I open a corrupt PDF file online?

  • Online Repair Tools:
    If you’re wondering how to open a corrupted PDF file without downloading additional software, online repair tools might be the solution for you. Websites like ‘PDF2Go’, ‘Online File Repair’, and ‘ILovePDF’ offer free services to repair and recover data from damaged PDF files. To use these tools:
    • Visit the respective website.
    • Upload the corrupted PDF file.
    • Let the tool process and repair the file.
    • Download the repaired file.
  • Please note: Using online tools may come with privacy concerns. Always ensure that the file doesn’t contain sensitive information when uploading it to any third-party website.
  • Online PDF Converters:
    Sometimes converting a corrupted PDF file to another format (like Word or PowerPoint) and then back to PDF can resolve the issues. Websites like ‘Smallpdf’ or ‘CloudConvert’ can assist in this process.

How do I open a corrupted file?

How to Open Corrupted PDF File

  • Alternative PDF Readers:
    The issue might not always be with the PDF file, but with the reader itself. Trying a different PDF reader like Adobe Reader, Foxit, or Sumatra PDF can often resolve compatibility or minor corruption issues.
  • Older Version Retrieval:
    If you have a backup system, there’s a possibility that an older, non-corrupted version of the file exists. Check your backup copies or the ‘Previous Versions’ feature (Windows) to retrieve an older version.
  • Hex Editor:
    This is a more advanced solution that involves using software to directly edit the hexadecimal code of the PDF. By removing the corrupted sections, you might be able to restore some of its content. This method requires a solid understanding of file structures and is not recommended for beginners.

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How do I fix a PDF file that won’t open?

  • Adobe Acrobat’s Built-In Repair:
    Adobe Acrobat (the premium version, not the free Reader) offers an inbuilt repair tool:
    • Open Acrobat and go to “File”.
    • Select “Open” and choose the corrupted file.
    • Acrobat might detect the corruption and attempt a repair automatically.
  • Third-Party Software:
    There are specialized software solutions like ‘SysTools PDF Recovery’, ‘Stellar Repair for PDF’, or ‘Kernel for PDF Repair’ that aim to repair and recover content from damaged or corrupted PDF files. They work similarly:
    • Install the software.
    • Run the program and load the corrupted PDF.
    • Follow the guided steps to repair the file.
  • Update Your PDF Reader:
    An outdated PDF reader can have compatibility issues. Always ensure your software is updated to the latest version, as the problem might be resolved with a newer version.
  • Recreate the PDF:
    If you have the original source file from which the PDF was created (like a Word or Excel file), the most straightforward solution might be to recreate the PDF.

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Corrupted PDF files can be a source of immense frustration, especially if they contain essential data. However, by employing the methods and tools detailed above, there’s a good chance you can retrieve or repair much, if not all, of the content. Remember always to keep backups of essential files and regularly update your software to minimize the chances of corruption. If a file is of utmost importance, consider seeking professional assistance to ensure the best chances of recovery.


1. What causes a PDF file to become corrupted?

Answer: There are several reasons a PDF file can become corrupted, including issues during file download or transfer, incomplete file saves, hard drive failures, malware or virus infections, and software glitches during the PDF’s creation.

2. Can a corrupted PDF damage my computer?

Answer: A corrupted PDF by itself will not damage your computer. However, if the corruption is due to a malware or virus, it could potentially harm your system. Always use trusted sources for downloads and maintain up-to-date antivirus software.

3. Are online PDF repair tools safe to use?

Answer: While many online PDF repair tools are legitimate and safe, always be cautious about uploading sensitive information to online platforms. Ensure the site uses encryption and read their privacy policy before use.

4. Is there any risk of further damaging my PDF when trying to repair it?

Answer: When working with a corrupted file, always create a backup before attempting repairs. While most repair methods are safe, there’s always a minor risk that changes could further alter or damage the file.

5. Why won’t my PDF reader open the file even after I’ve repaired it?

Answer: It’s possible that the corruption was too extensive for a complete repair, or the repair method used was not fully effective. Consider trying a different repair tool or method.

6. How can I prevent PDF files from becoming corrupted in the future?

Answer: Some preventive measures include regularly updating your PDF software, avoiding abrupt system shutdowns while a PDF is open, using trusted sources for downloads, and maintaining a good antivirus software.

7. Are there any free software options for repairing corrupted PDFs?

Answer: Yes, there are several free tools available online. However, they might have limitations compared to paid versions. Always ensure you’re downloading free tools from reputable sources to avoid malware.

8. Will repairing a corrupted PDF also recover lost images and graphics?

Answer: It depends on the extent of the corruption and the tool or method used. Some tools can recover both text and images, while others might only restore partial content.

9. How do I know if my PDF is corrupted or if the issue lies with my reader?

Answer: One way to verify is by trying to open the PDF with a different reader or software. If multiple readers can’t open the file, it’s likely the file itself is corrupted.

10. Can I repair a password-protected corrupted PDF?

Answer: Yes, many repair tools can handle password-protected files. However, you’ll typically need to provide the password during the repair process.

Noor Khan

Noor Khan


My name is Noor, and I am a seasoned entrepreneur focused on the area of artificial intelligence. As a robotics and cyber security researcher, I love to share my knowledge with the community around me.

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