Cannot Open Damaged File

About 25% of the pdf attachments I am receiving cannot be opened. Error Message: "There was an error opening this document. The file is damaged and could not be repaired." This only began in the last two weeks and I believe just after I installed Acrobat Reader XI. I am using Acrobat IX. It occurs with pdf attachments sent from multiple senders with different ISP's. I have repaired Acrobat Reader XI to no avail. I am out of ideas and in need of assistance.

Bill Woods

3 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Usually the conflict stems from how those PDFs were created and that is where most of the problems come from. It could be created from an older version of Acrobat, someone could have used an online converter that produce a bad copy of the PDF, the converter tools on Acrobat could be damaged in some way. However, since you mention you are using Reader XI, uninstall it and find a copy of Reader X and see if you can open the damage file.

Or try viewing the document through your browser or use another program like Foxit Reader and see if the file will open up.

By Michael Anderson   

Because some, not all, PDFs attached to incoming emails are affected the problem may be improper / incorrect designation of MIME types on the email server. If the server is not properly configured attached PDFs do get gobbered by the server as it processes them.
Be well...

David Austin   

Staff Answer

This is from the article noted below.

Acrobat products have historically opened a PDF as long as the %PDF-header started anywhere within the first 1024 bytes of the file. No checks were performed on the extraneous bytes before the %PDF-header. However, the 10.1.5 and 11.0.01 updates improve security by enforcing stricter parsing of the PDF-header. The product now refuses to open the small fraction of PDFs that do not correctly start with the '%PDF-' header and an error appears:

Error: the document is damaged and cannot be repaired. Adobe Reader could not open because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an email attachment and wasn't correctly decoded).

There are a few workarounds mentioned in the article.

Lori Kassuba   

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