3 Ways of Recovering a Damaged PDF File

How to recover a damaged Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader document

Adobe Reader / Acrobat documents with a *.pdf extension are the most popular document format at the moment. A PDF file, like any other file, may get damaged, and you may see various error messages when trying to open an Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader file. As the result, the document ends up being unreadable.

One of the main reasons why these issues occur is the incorrect operation of different software: browsers, email clients, the operating system, anti-virus tools, firewalls and such.

The simplest ways of solving this problem are:

  • download the document again
  • restore a backup copy of the file
  • recover the previous version of the document

Unfortunately, if you cannot recover the document using these methods, Adobe does not provide clear guidelines regarding the recovery of PDF files. If you go to the official forums at https://forums.adobe.com/, you won’t find a direct answer; but some users suggest the following ways of recovering PDF files:

  1. Manual extraction of text from PDF files
  2. Recovery of PDF files using an online service
  3. Recovery of a PDF file using a special program

You need to try each of these PDF file recovery methods:

1. Manual extraction of text from a PDF file

If extracting only the text from a damaged PDF file is good enough for you, you can use any convenient text editor (Notepad++, for instance) and open the damaged document with it. You will see a mix of PostScript code, text, and lines of unreadable characters, just like in “The Matrix”. You just need to visually identify blocks of text and copy them to a new document. It will be a long and tedious task, which, however, will help you recover text from a PDF document for free. You won’t be able to recover tables, images, and text formatting in this case.

2. Recovering a PDF file using an online service

The simplest, most convenient, and most affordable PDF recovery service can be found here: https://onlinefilerepair.com/en/pdf-repair-online.html

The user will only need to do the following:

  •  select a PDF file for uploading to the servic
  • enter their email address
  • enter the captcha characters from the picture

After you click the “Submit file for recovery” button, the browser will upload the file to the service. The online service will start recovering the file immediately. If the recovery attempt is successful, you will see screenshots of the recovered document, as well as the size of the source and the recovered files:

After paying $5 for recovering a file of up to 100 Mb, the user gets a download link to the recovered Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader PDF document.

The service is universal and supports all operating systems (Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android) and all types of devices (computer, tablet, phone).

3. Recovering a PDF file using a special program

The most popular program for recovering Acrobat / Reader documents is Recovery Toolbox for PDF ( https://pdf.recoverytoolbox.com/ ). The tool supports Windows only and costs $27. The number and size of the recovered files are unlimited. The program does not let you preview files to be recovered. In the DEMO mode, the service only saves a few pages of a large file.

Recovery Toolbox for PDF is a step-by-step wizard. The user needs to do the following:

  1. Choose a damaged .pdf file
  2. Specify the name of the PDF file that the recovered data will be saved to
  3. Choose the PDF file version that the recovered data will be saved to

Note: Recovery Toolbox for PDF works on Windows systems only.


The most surefire way of recovering an Acrobat document is to use this online service: https://onlinefilerepair.com/en/pdf-repair-online.html  . If you can’t share your document with third parties or you have many PDF files to recover, Recovery Toolbox for PDF  will be the optimal choice.

Note: PDF (Portable Document Format) is arguably the most popular document format on the market because it is supported by all major operating systems, is more secure, hard to modify, and can be protected with a password and/or a watermark.

Saurabh Saha
Pursuing MCA from the University of Delhi, Saurabh Saha is an experienced blogger and internet marketer. Through his popular technology blogs: TechGYD.COM & Sguru.org, he is helping several brands to gain exposure in front of high-quality web visitors.