Recovering Corrupt MS Project Files RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    I've been trying to recover a fairly complex MS Project file. I treied all but method 5 of the FAQ's at the website below:

    Can anyone direct me to more detail or an example of how to implement method 5. 

    Method 5 -

    If none of the above is effective, a more advanced approach is to re-create the file from Project's underlying database using VBA. Since the details of this method depend on the structural complexity of the file (e.g. multiple calendars, progress of tasks, levelling applied, etc.) this method should only be attempted by those with extensive Project VBA experience.

    Any help will be appriciated.


    Wednesday, January 22, 2014 8:26 PM

All replies

  • If you can't open the file in MS Project, and none of the other MVP FAQ methods are working for you, then the native libraries in VBA aren't going to be able to open it either I'm afraid. However, that's not to say it's irrecoverable just yet. Here are a couple of ideas:

    • Different Version of Project - You don't say which version of MS Project you're using, but I've had a corrupt file in the past which would not open in 2007, but we were able to open it in 2010. If you can get access to another version of MSP then that might fix it (I have an instance of 2010 available now if you want to send the file to me to try). 2013 has been available for some time now - I've not used it yet, but it may be even more robust than 2010 when it comes to handling corrupt data.
    • Different Application - There are a number of viewer applications out there - just google "MPP Viewer", and as they don't use the MS libraries, they may be able to open files that MS Project can't. Some of these applications are free, and some are free and online, so you may be able to get access to the data that way. the only viewers I've used give you a means of viewing but not saving the project file, but you may be able to copy/paste data into a fresh MPP file.
    • Recent Back-up - I assume you've exhausted the possibility of getting a recent back-up of the file? You'll have lost some work, but redoing a couple of days work on the schedule may be less painful than the next option...
    • Bespoke Coding Using MPXJ - There is a library called MPXJ which allows you to access MPP files from within .Net. If you absolutely had to get this data, then you could write a VB.Net application in Visual Studio using this library, and there's a chance that this library may give you access to the data. Once accessed, the library allows you to save in other formats (i.e. other than MPP) which you may then be able to reopen in MS Project, then resave as an MPP file. It's a nuclear option, and is likely to be expensive and/or time consuming, but if you absolutely have to get the data, and there are no recent backups, this could be an option.

    I hope this is helpful, and hope you get to the bottom of it.



    Andrew Simpson
    Founder – Eversight Ltd


    Download Eversight for MS Project — a free add-on which helps users build high quality schedules with MS project.

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014 9:37 PM
  • SoulSearching,

    Method 5 is a "hail Mary" last ditch effort to reconstruct a Project file. I came up with that method when I was a Project MVP but to be honest, I never tried it or carried the idea any further. As I reflect back, I realize that the method is only viable if the user has some access to the file (i.e. it opens but has corrupt data or a recent backup exists or the file was saved in .mpd format (pre-Project 2007) or .XML format (Project 2007 and later)), otherwise there is simply no way to get to the data using VBA methods.

    I am aware of some third-party utilities that claim to be able to recover corrupt Project files but I have no first-hand knowledge of whether they work. You could try a Google search for "recovering corrupt MS Project files". As far as I know none of them are freeware.

    If your file is "dead in the water" and you cannot access it at all and you cannot or do not want to buy a third party recovery utility, then hopefully you do have a recent backup from which you can build back to current data.

    You mention that your file is fairly complex. Is it by chance a master file with inserted subprojects or is it a single stand-alone Project file? If the former, I may be able to help you.

    I'm sure you've heard this before but when working with any complex file, the cardinal rule is to back-up and back-up often. Hindsight.


    Wednesday, January 22, 2014 9:50 PM
  • We try opening in a different version, viewer applications, and backup files with some success. Sometimes, we find that our backups are corrupt. Each of these suggestions work at times. We have also tried third party recovery tools.  For the particular file I have now, I will look into MPXJ and see if we can add another tool to our arsenal.


    Wednesday, January 29, 2014 6:24 PM
  • Thanks for your reply. It's not a master project file. We are preparing to move some projects to MSP 2013. Also, I'm going to investigate the MPXJ suggestion from another post. We have had limited success with third party recovery tools.

    Thanks again.

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014 6:30 PM
  • SoulSearching,

    I'm not familiar with the "MPXJ" method but perhaps the more important issue to examine in all of this is reasons why your files are becoming corrupt. The most likely items include but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Using Paste Links either within or between Project and other applications

    2. Using cross-project links (i.e. external predecessors/successors)

    3. Using a linked structure (i.e. master/subprojects, resource pool/sharer, or a combination of the two)

    4. Operating your files over a network

    With the first item, don't do it. It does work but you're asking for trouble. With items 2 & 3, never move, rename, or save off any files in the structure. Rigorous file discipline is essential when working with linked structures. With item 4, it is always most optimum to create and manage Project files in a single folder on a local drive, since LANs and WANs are always prone to glitches.

    Have you or do you currently do any of the above 4 items with your Project files?


    • Edited by John - Project Wednesday, January 29, 2014 9:02 PM finish comments
    Wednesday, January 29, 2014 6:59 PM
  • Please let us know if this tool succeeds for you. It would be great to know. Strongly recommend you always have latest service pack installed to minimise corruption risk and as John says, don't link to other files or applications (that includes master files and resource pools).

    Rod Gill
    Author of the one and only Project VBA Book

    Friday, July 4, 2014 8:25 AM
  • go to:

    Tools/Options/General tab. Select the option to open the last file on startup.

    Then save settings and close and reopen project 2007.

    OR visit: - for more detailed info

    As another option try next:

    1. Open a new blank project file without a project summary task.

    2. Go to Insert/Project and insert the problem file.

    3. Select the first task which will be the insertion point sumXXXXX XXXXXne.

    4. Go to Project/Task Information/Advanced tab.

    5. Uncheck the "Link to Project" button and hit "OK".

    6. If the file isn't already expanded, expand it.

    7. Select all tasks below the top level sumXXXXX XXXXXne.

    8. Outdent the selected tasks.

    9. Delete the first task which previously was a sumXXXXX XXXXXne.

    10. Save the resulting file.
    Wednesday, October 29, 2014 5:37 PM
  • Hi Interestingly I purchased Recovery Toolbox for Project only 2 weeks ago!  It recovered some of the tasks data, but by no means all of it.  At best it allowed my customer to recover the list of activities.  What was interesting is that I managed to open the mpp plan in access, and there was no data there, so I'm unsure as to how the (incomplete) data was recovered.  If you wish to send me the plan, I will see what I can get back using this tool.

    Ben Howard [MVP] | web | blog | book | P2O

    Friday, December 5, 2014 5:02 PM
  • Ben,

    Thanks for posting this. I've seen various posts hawking the virtues of Project file recovery tools but they were all quite obviously from "users" with vested interest. This is the first time I've (we've) seen any feedback from a reliable contributor. Sounds like the tool isn't all it cracked up to be.


    Friday, December 5, 2014 8:41 PM
  • In fairness the tool does show you what it will recover before you have to purchase it....  I guess it depends on how corrupted the file is. 

    Ben Howard [MVP] | web | blog | book | P2O

    Friday, December 5, 2014 9:00 PM