Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Accessing Old Excel Data.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 3, 2017)
If you have used computers for some time, you have accumulated quite a bit of data over the years. Unfortunately, not all that data is accessible any more. I have very old spreadsheet data stored in Multiplan files, and if I search around a bit longer, I can probably find some disks containing VisiCalc information.
Accessing information stored in old formats can be a big problem. If you update your computer every couple of years—hardware and software—there is a very good chance that you have old data that is essentially lost because you can no longer load it into a program.
There are several approaches you can take if you need to access older data. First, you can install the older versions of the software on your system (if you have the software) and then save the data files in some "exchange" format. For instance, you can save old Multiplan or early Excel information in SYLK format, which can then be read into newer versions of Excel.
Second, you can search through the Microsoft Knowledge Base for information on doing conversions. For instance, when I searched through the Knowledge Base for "Multiplan," I was able to find several pertinent articles that discussed different ways to update information for use with recent versions of Excel. The Microsoft Knowledge Base is available online at this URL:
Third, you could contact a user in your community who has the older version of the software and use their computer to do the upgrade. Many times you can find such users through a local user's group or through a computer store that sells used computer systems.
Finally, there are companies that specialize in doing data conversions. You can search on the Web for such companies and get quotes for updating your data.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11418) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Accessing Old Excel Data.
Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!
What would you do if every time you opened a workbook Excel told you it was locked? Here's how you can try to recover ...Discover More
Open a workbook that someone else is working on, and you won't be able to save your changes back into the same file. ...Discover More
Don't you hate opening a workbook and seeing error messages? If you see a message that some "invalid names" were detected ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.