Access: Errors during Import/Export to Excel xls

Note

Office 365 ProPlus is being renamed to Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. For more information about this change, read this blog post.

Symptoms

Access encounters Import/Export errors when working with Excel *.xls files that have cells, which contain more than 8224 bytes of data.

Import Error: The wizard is unable to access information in the file '<filename>'. Please check that the file exists and is in the correct format.
Export Error: External table is not in the expected format.

Cause

Changes that were released beginning with Access 2010 Service Pack 1 prevent Access from opening an existing Excel *.xls file if the contents of a cell are greater than 8224 bytes.

Resolution

You may use one of the following methods to prevent the issue.

  1. Use the *.xlsx format instead
  2. Restrict any memo/long text fields to a length less than 8224 bytes
  3. When exporting, delete the existing .xls file before performing the export using the same file name
  4. Open the .xls file in Excel before performing the Import/Export from Access