Quick way to update Excel links, repair broken links

In our today’s review I suggest you looking at the situation that, I am sure, is familiar for those who extensively use Microsoft Excel in their daily work. Especially if a stream of Excel documents that require processing threatens to overflood you. Let’s focus on just one aspect of such work – working with links in Excel workbooks. Oh, wait, I meant effective work with Excel links. The add-ins brought to your attention in this review are purposed for solving the complex task of searching for links, checking their validity and giving you a helping hand in case something goes wrong.

Add-in Version Developer Price Supports
Fix Broken Links for Excel 1.1 MAPILab $59 Microsoft Excel 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007
DigDB DigDB $39 Microsoft Excel 2000, 2002, XP, 2003, 2007
Link finder - Add-ins.Com LCC $49.95 Excel 97, 2000, 2002, XP, 2003, and 2007

Fix Broken Links for Excel from MAPILab


  • Microsoft Excel 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007
  • Microsoft Windows 98, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista (.NET Framework 2.0 required)

Download Fix Broken Links

The installation is typical for MAPILab add-ins – no problems, no glitches. One of the available options is the ability to choose the interface language (English or Russian).

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Language selection.

The trial version has some limitations in the number of processed files (up to 5 at a time) and the number of links (up to 10 at a time).

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Trial information
After installation, you will not have to look for the add-in toolbar in your Excel. The installation wizard shows you its location on the Excel toolbar:

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: First run
After the installation is completed, the add-in is ready for work. The only thing that you should remember about is the trial version limitations in the number of files and links.

So, on starting Microsoft Excel, you will see the Fix Broken Links for Excel toolbar.

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Add-in toolbar
The toolbar has two buttons. Help which, naturally, brings a built-in help system. A click on Fix Broken Links for Excel runs the add-in’s wizard.

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Selecting the required option
At the first step of the wizard, you select one of the provide options: create a report, patch files, repair broken links or copy linked files. Let’s have a quick look at each.

Create report. It checks all links in linked Excel sheets and generates a report about their state (available / unavailable).

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Selecting the required option
Patch files. As far as I guess, this function is intended for automatic repairing of broken links. However I was unable to find any description of what it does either in the build-in Help system, or in the flash tour. After running the add-in with this function selected (selected files didn’t have any broken or invalid links) I got the message that all is OK and the files were patched. Clear, no changes were made in the files. Comparing information from Help with the actual interface of the add-in as well as some other experiments shed some light on this mysterious function. The Patch option is, in fact, what is called Prepare files for automatic restoration in their Help. It puts some marks in the linked files that can help in updating links afterwards. Repair broken links. As follows from its description this function is purposed for automatical correction of broken links (if possible). And it is possible only of you have patched your files beforehand using the Patch function.

To start the repairing process the wizard will ask you to specify what folders contain the linked Excel documents.

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Repair broken links
After that the restoring process starts. First, you specify the file with links that require repairing or updating, and then you specify the folder with linked files. Click Next, and your links are updated.

Copy linked files function, no doubts, is intended for copying linked files.

MAPILab Fix Broken Links for Excel: Copy linked files
The following options are available: copy parent and child files, copy only child files, copy only parent files. Also, there is an option for automatic overwriting and renaming files.

Thus, MAPILab steadily adheres to the idea of add-ins that are utmost easy to understand and use. However, in some cases it may somewhat narrow the functionality of the plug-in. So, in the first place you should decide with maximum certainty what functions you really need.

If you create Excel workbooks from scratch, then using the Patch Files option at the early stage will save your nerves in future. The options of automatic copying of liked files are highly helpful when sorting workbooks.

If your task of updating links requires more precision and more advanced options, I suppose you’d better have a close look at the next add-in.

DigDB from DigDB


  • Microsoft Excel 2000/2002/XP/2003/2007
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, 2003, XP, Vista

DigDB web-site

Well, we happen to meet with the universal Excel plug-in from DigDB again (see also add-ins to consolidate data in Excel).

Now to activate the trial as well as the purchased license you need the internet connection. Apart from this, all is at the same high level as it used to be: plain menu and rich functionality.

In the framework of this review, we are going to dwell only on the functions purposed for dealing with Excel links.

The Find Linked Cells option, as follows from its name, searches for links in
Excel sheets, and finds both active and broken. It is really nice, especially if to recall that the built-in Excel function simply shows linked cells, i.e. cells that refer to other Excel workbooks.

DigDB: Add-in menu
By clicking on this option you start the search process. The first found link is highlighted and displayed in a special window.

DigDB: Find broken link cells
As shown in the screenshot above, you can go on to searching for broken links with a click. Besides, you have another handy option of replacing broken links with #REF, or with their current face values. I think this can be of much help at further processing of the sheet using some vba application if broken links were not repaired properly. Or, you can just delete broken links that are impossible to update.

The Break Broken Links option provides advanced tools for working with broken links only.

DigDB: Replace broken links
The following actions are available: replacing affected values by their current face values, replacing affected values by #REF and deleting affected values. You can go through the whole list of broken links manually, or process all links automatically (Break all).

For those who were not acquainted with this DigDB add-in, I can say that if you started to use it in your work with Excel, you will hardly be able to do without it henceforth. True, you will have to spend some time on familiarization with its interface and principles of work (which is natural taking into account the wealth of its functionality), but the time you will spend on reading the manual and help will definitely pay off.

Link Finder from Add-Ins.Com LLC.


  • Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003, 2007
  • Microsoft Windows 2000, 2003, XP, Vista

Link Finder

Also, I can recommend you one more add-in that works with Excel links, entitled Link Finder from Add-Ins.Com LLC. Unfortunately this add-in doesn’t have a trial version, so I was unable to see it in action. But I happen to wok with other add-ins of this company and I was left with a rather favorable impression.

The stated distinctive feature of this add-in is that it can search for broken links in Excel sheets that can be either opened or closed (BTW, it is also possible with Fix Broken Links for Excel
from MAPILab).

The main window of the add-in gives access to its basic functions:

Link Finder: Main window
The following options are available: search for links in the active book, making a list of links in all open workbooks, changing links in the active book, listing intra workbook links, searching closed files for links, changing links in closed workbooks, search visual basic modules in closed files for links, viewing the name of the last file processed by above 3 options, saving the workbook open.

Looking at the list of options above, I would prefer to avoid such a mess. Yes, that could present certain difficulties for developers, but for me, a user, it would be more convenient not to bother at all whether the sheet is opened or closed, or make it as a step-by-step wizard.

The screenshot below shows the additional search parameters.

Link Finder: Search broken links in .xls files
What can be of interest is the option of highlighting found links and a prompt for action.

All found cells are displayed in a separate window, and you can quickly move to the needed cell.

Link Finder: Founded objects
Also, the add-in has the option for creating reports of all found and processed links. On the vendor’s web-site the add-in is priced at $49.95 and supports the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, XP, 2003, and 2007

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