Microsoft Works Troubleshooting - Word Processor Document Recovery Explained

Written by:  • Edited by: Bill Fulks
Published Jun 16, 2010
• Related Guides: Microsoft | Works Word Processor | Operating System

Retrieving lost data from a Microsoft Works word processor document isn't easy - follow these steps outlining the three methods for recovering your data.

Corrupt Microsoft Works Document?

Microsoft Works is a low cost alternative to Microsoft Office. It includes a word-processor and spreadsheet among its applications, and to all intents and purposes these apps are very similar to those in the larger suite.

Unlike Microsoft Word, the Microsoft Works word processor does not feature a recovery tool. As such, any issues related to opening files can only be resolved without some trouble - if they can be resolved at all.

While it is possible to retrieve damaged WPS format files using either third party data recovery apps, there are several Microsoft-approved alternatives. As the third party tools are extremely expensive, you might well find that the methods listed here are your only choice.

Changing the Document Format

Microsoft Works Word Processor document recovery You can spot a damaged WPS format document easily – it might fail to open in Works, or appear to have information missing from the text within.

If the document does open, you can attempt recovery of the missing data by changing the file format. To do this, go to File > Save as… and in the Files of Type box, select *.RTF – then click Save.

Next, Close the document and then Open the newly created RTF format version. This should look like your original document. You can then save this as the native WPS format file by repeating the steps above and selecting Works WP in the Files of Type box.

Opening the Document in Wordpad

If you find that you cannot open the document in Works by changing the file format you can try using a different Microsoft word processing app. The first one to try is Wordpad, a document editing tool that comes as part of the Windows operating system.

Go to Start > Run > Accessories > Wordpad in Windows XP (and earlier operating systems).

In the open application, find the damaged document in the File > Open dialogue, and when prompted to convert the file, select No Conversion.

When the file opens, you will probably see some strange characters at the top or bottom of the document – Delete these.

If you’re done, go to File > Save as… In the Files of Type box, select Works WP and then click Save. You will then be able to open a fixed version of the document in Works. This may have some differences to the original file, and formatting might need to be reapplied.

Strip the Header

All Works files have a header that identifies the document type, which in turn indicates to the operating system the format of the data in the document. Corrupt documents can experience damage to the header, which may be the reason why you cannot open your Works WP document.

This method can only be used by converting the file into .txt format, for editing in Notepad or a similar plain text editor.

Open a Command Prompt by going to Start > Run and entering cmd.

Type the following, where [name] refers to the filename of your damaged Works document.

Copy con+[name].wps [name].txt

Hit Enter – you will then be greeted by a CON prompt. Tap Spacebar 12 times to continue, then press F6 and Enter. Finally, type and enter the command exit, and the box will close.

In Works, go to File > Open and in the Files of Type box select Text (.txt). Select the newly created text file, and click Open.

The text file version of the will display a collection of unusual characters at the header and footer of the document. You will need to check that your document is correctly formatted, and that the data is intact before saving again, this time as Works WP format.

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