Everything You Need to Know About File Corruption

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Is the term file corruption something new to you? Don’t worry this will no longer be the case. In this article, you will learn the ABC to XYZ of file corruption.

We will show you the bad, the good, and the grey of file corruption shining light on every aspect of the topic.

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According to a report published in Elsevier- Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 5% of all file transfers in a 100 Gbps network develop data corruption that TCP checksum fails to detect and recover.

This is just one of the ways in which file corruption can happen. But do you know why it happens, or how to prevent it?

To understand file corruption you first need to learn what the term file corruption is, how to find clues of file corruption, its origin, and precautionary techniques.

So, first things first what does the term file corruption mean?

A file is said to be corrupt when its data structure or content becomes compromised, rendering it unreadable, unusable, or exhibiting unusual behavior.

Unreadable or unusable files are easy to distinguish but what is this unusual behavior? How would I know that my file is suffering from corruption? Let's take a look.

How Can I Figure Out That My File Is Corrupted?

A corrupt file even in case it is still opening will all display some signs of corruption. You just have to look out for them and you will know whether your file is corrupted.

Look out for these common indicators that point towards file corruption.

  • Inability to Open the File- If you cannot open a file using the appropriate software it is a clear indication that the file is damaged.
  • Error Messages- Facing different error messages when trying to open a file or software can also be a sign of file corruption.
  • Distorted or Missing Content- Sometimes, file corruption manifests more subtly. You will be able to open your files but the content of the file may be missing or distorted. For example, corrupt pictures may appear as distorted images when opened.
  • Performance Issues- If you are facing performance issues like slowing, freezing, or crashing of the application. It may be because of corruption of some data file of the software or the file that you are running on the software.
  • File Size Anomalies- File corruption may also appear as file size anomalies. Corrupt files may appear significantly smaller or larger than expected compared to similar files of the same file type.

Okay, now I understand what is what is file corruption and how I can figure out if my file is corrupt. But what caused this file corruption?

What Causes File Corruption?

File corruption may manifest in many forms. Sometimes, a software data file is corrupted, while other times files that run using the application get corrupted. Images can get corrupt. You may see corrupt videos, corrupt words, corrupt RARs, etc.

But no matter what type of file got corrupted, this corruption process has common roots that make files corrupt. Understanding these roots is important to protect your devices. File corruption causes include but is not limited to

  • Data Transmission Error- File corruption can be caused by errors occurring during data transmission over a network like pocket loss, electromagnetic interference or network congestion.
  • Software Glitches or Bugs- If you encounter software glitches or bugs, it may cause the file running by the software to get corrupted too.
  • Physical damage to Storage Media- Physical damage to storage media like scratches on CDs/DVDs, fall damage to HDD, etc can cause the files stored on the storage device to get corrupted or deleted.
  • Improper Shutdown or Power Fluctuations- Improper Shutdown of a device, or device facing power spikes can cause damage to the device, and files saved on it can get corrupted.
  • Virus or Malware Infection- A file may get corrupted as it gets infected by a virus or malware.
  • Environmental Factors- Exposing your device to extreme temperature, humidity or magnetic field can damage your storage drive and corrupt the files present on it.

By now you would be wondering, what should be done so I don’t have to suffer from such an issue. Where there are problems there are also solutions. If you take proper precautions you can significantly decrease the threat of file corruption.

But what to do if your file has already been corrupted? Do not worry, there are various file repair tools and techniques that can help repair corrupted files. There are different tools for different file formats.

Remo Software a leading brand in the data recovery sector has been developing various data recovery and file repair software that can help you easily repair corrupted files. There are different file repair tools for you to check out.

Precautionary Steps | Prevention is Better than Cure

As we all know prevention is better than cure. It is always better to protect your files from file corruption than struggle to fix corrupt files.

So, it's time to put your defenses up and guard your device against file corruption. Following these simple preventive measures will help you protect your files.

  • Regular Data Backups- This does not prevent your files from getting corrupted but backing up ensures that you can recover your data in the event of file corruption.
  • UPS and Surge Protection- Use Surge Protectors and UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) Systems to protect your computers and storage devices from power surges or fluctuations.
  • Avoid Forceful Shutdowns- Forceful shutdowns can cause file corruption, hence it is best to avoid it as much as possible.
  • Use Reliable Antivirus- Use reliable antivirus software to protect your device against viruses and malware that can cause file corruption.
  • Handle Storage Devices Properly- Handle your storage devices with care to prevent any physical damage. Also, follow the proper steps when removing the storage media.

Every coin has two sides and it's important that we look at a topic from every angle to fully grasp it. You may have thought that file corruption is all bad, but when used for the correct purposes it can be a very helpful tool.

Now let us look at situations where we intentionally corrupt our files. Seems absurd, it's not. Read on to find out.

Practical Scenarios of Intentional File Corruption

You might be wondering, isn’t file corruption a nuisance? What possible use can it have? Yes, file corruption is an anomaly and a nuisance, but even this in some rare cases can be useful.

Given below are a few examples where one might have to intentionally corrupt a file.

  • Software Testing- To test how software would handle unexpected errors, software development companies may intentionally corrupt files to run simulations.
  • Data Recovery Testing- Professionals might intentionally corrupt files to test the effectiveness of Data Recovery tools and techniques.
  • Forensic Investigations- Intentionally corrupting files can help, digital forensic investigators, simulate real-world scenarios involving data tampering, manipulation, or destruction.
  • Disaster Recovery Planning- Organisations may employ file corruption to test their backup and recovery contingency plans in the event of data loss or corruption.


In this article, we have covered every aspect relating to file corruption including its definition, symptoms, causes, preventive measures, and even its uses.

If you found this article helpful do comment and share.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…