There are numerous potential causes for file damage:

  • A crash when saving a file, especially to network or external drives; sudden power outages
  • Damaged cables
  • Network transmission issues
  • Software bugs
  • Problems with hard disks or RAM modules 

Still, file damage is rare. If you determine one or more of your files is corrupted, determine the cause to prevent further issues, while you try to recover your file.

Determine the cause

The first thing to determine is if the corruption is limited to one file or occurs with several, so you can limit the potential damage. 

If it's one file, the cause could be a glitch with the computer that you haven't noticed, or thought wasn't connected.

If it's more than one file, look for patterns:

  • Did it occur with files that are in the same location (folder, hard disk, network, or removable drive)?
  • Were they created or modified around the same time?
  • Did anything change on or with the computer around the time the files were last edited?
  • Are the images displaying corruption when you print them as well as when you view them on screen?

If you can find a pattern that indicates they shared common hardware, test your cables, try a different port, or use a different hard disk or use a hard disk instead of a network drive. 

If files were corrupted recently and they don't have a time limitation, you could have a malfunctioning RAM module. 

If you've added any software to your computer around the time the images were corrupted, there could be an issue with that application or update. Check for software updates or determine if your applications have recently been updated, or disable the application. Although rare, virus protection software, backup software, and font management software can try to write to files before they're saved, causing damage. 

If your images are only corrupted on screen (the damage does not print), update your video driver. If that doesn't solve the problem, contact your video card manufacturer.

In Windows, see the Windows General Troubleshooting guide  for instructions on removing temporary files and turning off all OS startup items and services. It also tells you how to turn off third-party plug-ins in Photoshop by immediately holding down the Shift key after you start Photoshop. 

On Mac OS, use the Mac OS General Troubleshooting guide for instructions on repairing disk permissions and turning off OS startup items. It also tells you how to turn off third-party plug-ins in Photoshop by immediately holding down the Shift key after you start Photoshop. 

Recover the file

When a file has been corrupted, you can sometimes get the file back with its layers or as a composite (a composite is a flattened file). The appearance of the file is maintained, but the layers are lost. Or the file could be damaged beyond repair. Regular backups can allow you to salvage a version of your file that you saved before the corruption. 

Note: A composite file cannot be recovered from a file when the option to maximize PSD and PSB file compatibility is turned off in Photoshop's preferences. To make sure that your files always save with a composite, do the following:

  1. Choose Photoshop > Preferences > File Handling (Mac OS) or Edit > Preferences > File Handling (Windows).
  2. Choose Always in the pop-up menu next to Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility. 
  3. Click OK to close Preferences.

Try any or all of these options to recover your file:

  • Use Save As to save the file to a new name in a different location. (For example, use an internal hard disk or a drive that is not a removable or network drive.)
  • Open any backed-up copies of your image to determine if one was saved before the corruption occurred.
  • If you've had one of these error messages, your filename extension may not match your file format:
    • Could not complete your request because it is not a valid Photoshop document.
    • Could not complete your request because an unknown or invalid JPEG marker type is found.
    • Could not complete your request because the file-format module cannot parse the file.
    • This is not a valid Portable Document File (PDF) document. It cannot be opened.

 See Invalid JPEG marker error for the solution.

  • To open an image that contains damaged layer data with its composite, press Shift+Opt (Mac OS) or Shift+Alt (Windows) while your file is being opened. This solution doesn't work on all files. 
  • Customers have suggested these recovery utilities. Adobe does not support them, and has not tested with them. However, we hope that they help recover your file.