Obviously the best way to deal with corrupt CorelDRAW files is simply to never have a corrupt file. Before we talk about what you can try to do to revive a corrupt file, I’ll talk about some things you can do to avoid them in the first place. For reference, I’ve never had a corrupt file so they can definitely be avoided.
Let’s start with three posts I did last year that should be required reading for all CorelDRAW users. Each talks about things that could lead to file corruption. Many users want to try and create long documents in CorelDRAW. In my opinion, the longer the document, the higher the odds are for corruption. Break Up Long Documents suggests a way to create the same thing with less potential for problems. Those files can be combined back together when printing or exporting to PDF as explained in Combine Multiple CDR Files Into PDF or Print. Along the same lines, Don’t Create Massive Files, talks about files that simply grow too large. They can be easily avoided by using proper elements in the files and not making files with too many pages. Unfortunately there are extra things that can sneak in files that needs to be deleted. Delete Extra Stuff to Speed Up CorelDRAW gives you step-by-step instructions for deleting the extra junk. Follow these rules and the chances of having a corrupt file will be very low.
How do you know a file is corrupt? You won’t know until it is too late. When you try to open the file, it just won’t open any more. In some cases, you’ll get a crash or even an error message. It might even tell you something in the file is corrupt. At this point, you need to assume the file is completely dead. One of the reasons it is so bad to create very long documents in CorelDRAW is that the whole project can quickly go down the drain if the file is corrupt. If you break it up into multiple files, only one portion of the file will be corrupt. One thing you can try is to create a brand new file and import the corrupt file into it. In some cases the file will import correctly. I had a loyal reader contact me last week with a corrupt file and importing solved the problem for him.
Sometimes you can’t even find the file that you feel is corrupt. Do a search in your temporary folder for a file named something like “@@@.cdr.tmp”. Make a copy of this file and rename it to something like “recovery-file.cdr” and try to open it. This may work in some circumstances.
If it is a CorelDRAW X4 or X5 file, make a copy of the file and rename it to have a zip extension. Unzip the file and look for data inside of the zip by the name of riffData.cdr and extract it. Now try to open or import that into CorelDRAW. Again, chances are low that it will work.
Again, the best way to deal with corrupt files is to avoid them. Should you have a file go bad, hopefully one of the suggestions above will solve it for you.