How to Repair a Damaged or Corrupted PDF

PDF files can get corrupted for a variety of reasons. The file may have not downloaded properly, a hard-drive may have reached its storage capacity or there could have been a problem transferring from one device to another.


If the issue is from a download, try downloading the file again to see if this fixes the issue.


If there’s still a problem, discover how to repair a damaged or corrupted PDF in our handy guide.

Quick list: How to Repair a Damaged PDF.


Check out this quick guide to repairing a damaged or corrupted PDF:

  1. Update Adobe Acrobat Reader. One of the reasons a PDF might not display properly is because your Adobe Acrobat Reader isn’t up to date. Launch the app and go to Help > Check for updates.
  2. Repair installation. If the PDF still doesn’t work after updating Acrobat Reader, go to Help > Repair installation.
  3. Restore previous version. Another method to repairing a damaged PDF is restoring it to a previous version. Head to the location where the PDF is saved, right click the file and select Restore previous versions.
  4. Convert the PDF. if you are still having no luck with repairing a damaged PDF, you can extract the information from within, then save it into a Word document. From here you reformat the information and resave as a PDF

In Detail: PDF Repair Step by Step.


You can repair a corrupted PDF using the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Find out the full process here

1. The issue may simply be that your Adobe Acrobat Reader software is not up to date. Launch Adobe Acrobat reader and go to Help > Check for updates. If any updates are available, install them and then try re-opening your PDF on the app.

2. The files Adobe requires to run may have become corrupted. In which case, go to Help > Repair installation. If you still have no luck when opening your PDF after this has been resolved, you can still repair a corrupt PDF file online for free by uninstalling Acrobat, then install the latest version.

3. If the file worked prior to becoming corrupted, you may be able to restore an older version of the document on Adobe. Find your PDF in your files, right click and select Restore previous versions. This will bring up a list of the previously saved versions that are backed up. You can select a file to open and restore, which will bring up a previous, uncorrupted version.

4. If you don’t have an older version to use, you may be able to convert the PDF to another file type or extract the information. You can easily convert a PDF to a Word document. This might not be the most effective way to repair a PDF, but it will ensure that any important information can be recovered.

Benefits of Repairing a Corrupted PDF?


There are many benefits when it comes to PDF repair.


  • Recover information. Using a PDF repair tool ensures you can recover important documents and data. 
  • Sharing files. PDFs can be opened on a variety of apps on different operating systems, so PDF repair is vital if you have documents you need to share with others.  
  • Helps update software. The first step of PDF repair is checking for updates to your Adobe Acrobat Reader. Having the most up to date version of the app will help to make it easier for the service to open and read PDFs, without the need to use a PDF repair tool again.

PDF Repair: FAQs.


Want to learn more? These are the most common questions Adobe users ask about PDF repair.


How do PDF files get corrupted?


PDFs often get corrupted if they are created using software that’s incompatible with Adobe Acrobat. However, there are several other causes, such as a file not downloading fully, insufficient hard-drive space or, in some cases, a virus infection.


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


If a PDF file won’t open on Adobe Acrobat, firstly, ensure that you have the latest version of Acrobat install. From here, disable protected mode at startup - you can do this by heading to Edit > Preferences > Security (enhanced). On that final screen, head to sandbox protections and untick Enable protected mode at startup. If you’re not getting a corrupted file error warning and the file just doesn’t open, this is your best option.


Why can’t I open a PDF file in my email?


A PDF file should open in a web browser or in Adobe Acrobat Reader, once double-clicked. If this doesn't happen, this doesn/t necessarily mean you need to go through PDF repair. Instead, right-click to Save, before looking for the file, hitting right-click and selecting Open with Adobe Reader. If this doesn't work, you may need to update your version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Related Acrobat content.


Get more out of Adobe Acrobat with our tips and guides.


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