Records Toolkit

Archives New Zealand’s guidance on information and records management

Can’t open your old Word files – don’t panic!

Posted by Archives New Zealand on 27 August 2018



Does your organisation have old Microsoft Word documents from the 1990s that you are now unable to open due to a change in the Microsoft Trust Centre permissions?

Figure 1 Microsoft Trust Center warning

If your IT people are unhappy about the need to change the Microsoft Trust Center permissions allowing you to see these files, as they see this as a security risk for the rest of the organisation, then we have a possible solution for you.

Identifying the files

Some old MS Word files will open just fine in the current version of MS Office you run at your organisation; and some of the files will NOT open – instead giving a Trust Center error (as above).

Using a file format detection application called DROID to examine the hard-to-open files you can find out which version of MS Word created them and/or will open them now.


 Figure 2 DROID Report

Looking at the DROID report above, we can see that some of the .doc files were created by MS Word 6.0/95 – a very old version from the 1990s.


Figure 3 Microsoft Word 6.0 - 1995

The .doc files created by MS Word 97-2003 will probably open just fine in your current version of MS Word – for now. Sometime in the future though, this may not be the case.

 Figure 4 Microsoft Word 97

Opening the files

The good news is that all of these files will open easily in OpenOffice – a free, open-source alternative to MS Office. It might be easier for your IT department to install an MS Office alternative on your desktops than to wrestle with the Microsoft Trust Center issues.

We already use these tools which we would recommend to help organisations identify and open old versions of MS Office files. DROID and OpenOffice are both open source and free. It is important that your organisation provides on-going access to records which have not yet been sentenced for destruction. For further advice on this get in touch with us at



OpenOffice --

Apache OpenOffice --

Microsoft Trust Center -

Post your comment



No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments