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Excel Oddity

Posted on 2016-07-27
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Last Modified: 2016-08-10
I have a customer running Excel 2013. She download spreadsheets from her payroll company. When she tries to open the spreadsheet it opens but no data displays. No error. No data. They are .xls (not .xlsx).

I copy the spreadsheet to my computer (Excel 2016) and it opens with the warning "The file format and extension of <filename.xls> don't match, The file could be corrupt. Do you want to open it anyway?" (she said this is normal). I say yes and it opens.

Here is the weird part. As long as I copy the spreadsheet to my computer (I don't even have to open it) and copy it back she can then open it. I don't do anything to it. Just copy it to my computer and turn right around and copy it back. Then she can open it.

She can open all her other spreadsheets just fine (.xlsx). Just not these until I copy them to my computer and copy them back.....
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Question by:LockDown32
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:AL_XResearch
ID: 41731986
When you say "it opens but their is no data" do you mean that you see a blank workbook or the file opens but there is no workbook shown ?
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:Christopher Jay Wolff
ID: 41731990
What is the payroll company doing?  Is payroll company creating .xls with OpenOffice or QuickBooks or some other program?  Do they upload it to some place like Dropbox or something for her to access it and download it?  Is she or the payroll company using a Mac?  Does it work if payroll company emails a .xls file to her?  What versions of Excel is everyone using?
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Author Comment

by:LockDown32
ID: 41732000
No cells and hence no data. The ribbons are there but the body is just a solid light-gray background. No cell divisions either horizontally  or vertically. Screen shot attached. Copying them to a different location on her computer doesn't help.

Can't tell you what the Payroll Company is doing. She logs on interactively, generates reports and downloads the reports in .xls format. She is running Windows 10 and Office 2013.
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Expert Comment

by:AL_XResearch
ID: 41732004
Try going to the 'View' tab and selecting ''New Window' - do you see anything ? If you do then somehow the system generating the workbook has made the workbook's default window indivisible. Let me know.
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Expert Comment

by:AL_XResearch
ID: 41732009
Also the 'file format doesn't match the extension' warning is commonly shown if the generating system creates the workbook in XLS format but gives it an XLSX extension.

XLS is a (old) binary format and XLSX is in reality a compressed file that contains (amongst other formats) multiple XML files.
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Accepted Solution

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ThomasMcA2 earned 500 total points
ID: 41732011
The problem is probably caused by a recent Microsoft Update. Here is a quote from MS:

The Excel team has made a change in the behavior of certain file types to increase security. This change came in the security updates KB3115262, KB3170008, and KB3115322. Previously, when you tried to open an HTML or XLA file with an .XLS file extension from an untrusted location, Excel would warn about the mismatch between the file extension and content, but would still open the workbook without Protected View security. After the security updates Excel no longer will open the workbook because these files are not compatible with Protected View and there is no warning or other indication it was not opened. We apologize that Excel is showing a blank screen instead of a more helpful error message with information about what to do next.

We have a few options for workarounds. These are in order from safest to riskiest. While some people in the forums have suggested rolling back the security patch, we do not recommend that option as it can leave you open to other current and future threats.

1.     The best option is to move away from using HTML wrapped as .xls. If you use native formats (e.g. xls, xlsx, xlsb) which will open in protected view when untrusted, this will provide some level of protection from the documents being opened.

2.     You can unblock access for individual files you know are safe. To do this:
a.      Right click on the file and choose Properties
b.     On the General tab, click Unblock
c.      Click OK

3.     You can make use of existing Trusted Locations capabilities in Excel 2010, 2013, and 2016 via File -> options -> Trust Center -> Trust Center Settings -> Trusted Locations.

a.      You can save the web html file to a trusted location on the local machine (Excel comes with a set of default trust locations). If you do not see the local folder location you trust for these files, then press “Add new location…” button and add it in the Trusted Location dialog. If the HTML document is in a trusted location the KB fix is not applied (e.g. the unsafe HTML file is not blocked).

b.     This approach may unblock you, but it carries some risk as files of any file type in Trusted Locations are fully trusted. If an attacker can drop files into the trusted location they can easily exploit users who open such documents. Be especially cautious when specifying a custom folder as a trusted location.
 
We are also investigating a more permanent solution that allows our users to remain secure as well as minimize disruption to existing user experience. We’ll provide updates on this in the coming days. Thank you for your patience.

Office Newsroom
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LVL 15

Author Comment

by:LockDown32
ID: 41732043
How annoying. The right-click => Properties => Unblock did the trick. She downloads them to her "Downloads" folder. Anything she can do on a permanent basis so she doesn't have to "Unblock" each and every download?
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:ThomasMcA2
ID: 41732217
Other than to use Linux or a Mac, I have no idea.
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:Christopher Jay Wolff
ID: 41742343
Hi.  I'm not trying to change anything about this question status.  Wanted to put some more info here in case it helps generate ideas for dealing with your unblock automation.  This is about powershell scripting.
https://www.experts-exchange.com/questions/28961072/When-trying-to-export-from-Arena-the-file-is-not-opening-in-Excel.html
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Expert Comment

by:Ashwin Rayaprolu
ID: 41750649
There is an open source code to convert HTML Wrapped file to Excel (xls 2003 format). You can install that and embed that service and improve on it if required as its opensource.



https://github.com/ashwinrayaprolu1984/htmlwrapexcelconverterhttps://github.com/ashwinrayaprolu1984/htmlwrapexcelconverter
0
 

Expert Comment

by:Ashwin Rayaprolu
ID: 41750654
There is an open source code to convert HTML Wrapped file to Excel (xls 2003 format). You can install that and embed that service and improve on it if required as its opensource.



https://github.com/ashwinrayaprolu1984/htmlwrapexcelconverter
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