There are a lot of things that can be done to retrieve data from corrupt "read only" "can't access" excel files. My system's error message is in Japanese and the Japanese help article from Microsoft goes into quite a lot of detal. Here are the Japanese pages (the first with specific reference to excel files, the second to general read acces problems). But I can't find the English versions of the help pages.
I read Japanese so I can tell you want is in them.
1) Use different versions of Excel, or use Word. I also tried OOO.org's Calc.
2) Attempt to reference the contents of the file from another workbook. You can do this using the gui or using text
2.1) Using text
Create a new excel file in the same directory as the problem file. And add this to the top left cell (A1)
changing "workbookname" to the name of the problem file, and "sheetname" to the name of the desired sheet in that file (Sheet1 is the default for the first sheet).
If that accesses data the drag the bottom right corner of A1 in your new file to reference all the data you require.
Using the GUI to do the same thing
create two new excel files.
Copy A1 in one file and paste to A1 in the, using the choose paste format tool, choosing the type of paste to be "paste link".
Then change the link you have just pasted using the update link (or similar) item in the edit menu. Updating the link you have just pasted (between two empty files) will allow you to browse to the problem file. And do as above, dragging the bottom corner to reference more data.
This is doing the same thing as 2.1) just using the browse function to set the reference.
3) Do a check disk (My computer>browse to drive>properties>tools>check disk> scan and automatically repair (reboot). Try to access the fault file again, and also search for files ending in .chk and rename them to excel files .xls and see if they contain your data.
All the above did not work for me. It is as if the file is really seriously corrupted. But then I tried one of the many Excel file recover programs and the first one I tried shows all the data in the preview window. I am in no way affiliated. This one costs 27 USD, personal to 45 USD institutional/business.
I guess I should buy it. But my feeling is that the program is doing something really simple (just ignoring a "this file is in use" type flag) so their should be a free solution.
But anway, I guess the company deserves some kudos. You can preview the file visually, but not export, using the demo version. One problem with the program is it would not let me close it down. I had to use Ctrl ALT Delete and forced shut down.
My semi-solution was Recuva. I had recuva already installed. I use it to retrieve jpg's when I accidentally delete them from SD cards. I highly recommended it. It is free software, and managed to recover much of the data though not as much as Recovery Toolbox's software above. It was as if Recuva did not manage to get the final version of the software, some of the more recently input data was lost)
So I would try recuva prior to purchasing the above. Recuva has an option for scanning for undeleted files. I did not need to set that - it found my undeleted but corrupted excel file anyway. Only the sheet name appears garbled.
Addendum....I checked the box which allowed Recuva to search for undeleted files and it found the undeleted file but it could NOT recover it. The file was in a sense recovered, in that a copy was created in the destination folder of my choice, but it had the same read only can't access problem as the original file. What I achieved with Recuva was therefore, to recover the last version that I had saved prior to the crash. Only the more sophisticated, dedicated excel recovery program seems able to get the data from that.
Edited by timtak, 25 October 2010 - 07:22 PM.