I’m not a fan of Google Docs. I never have been. It’s ugly, poorly organized, and lacking features. Web apps generally are. I don’t use it.
However, I didn’t break my long, long silence on this site to bitch about all the things that are wrong with Google Docs (and Google in general lately). Because, I actually found a useful use for Google Docs.
I just had a user that couldn’t open a PowerPoint file. It was damaged. When trying to open the file, PowerPoint attempts to repair it, but cannot. It then gives the message that the “PowerPoint file may be damaged, or it may have been created in a pre-release version”. Web searches for the error didn’t produce anything useful.
(I ran a fsck with no luck.)
Long story short, since the file was damaged, but it still obviously had content (it was about 1.5 MBs, whereas sometimes corrupt files will show as being 0kb, or 4kb, or whatever the block size is, etc.), I knew there had to be a way to get at the data in the file.
I had the user upload the file to her Google Docs account to see if it would be able to convert it, even though it was damaged. Surprisingly, it was able to. Once in Google Docs, we were able to resave it as a .pptx file (you know, an actual usable, non-Google, format).
So, if you have an Office file (or pdf, or any other format Google Docs will handle) that won’t open, it might be worth a try uploading it to Google.
NOTE: This was on a Mac. If the user had Keynote installed, I would have tried opening it in Keynote, which I’m sure would also have worked.