Damaged Files - How To
David Anders,The Computer Guy, a freelance systems engineer in Seattle, WA.
Resolves computer problems, assists with production issues, designs and installs networks.

Repairing/recovering a damaged file

(Read the SaveAs article - this is an important safeguard in avoiding Damaged Files.)

. Aside from an imported or placed file that is damaged, it is also possible that the file itself is damaged. Meaning the file structure &endash; the individual framework of the file is broken. Sometimes, you can:

  • Allocate more memory to the program.
. Sometimes a complex document will grow large enough to outstrip the size of the default memory partition assigned to the program (these are often quite small). Giving the application more memory allows it to open and work on an abnormally large file. With the application closed, highlight it, choose Get Info from the File Menu, increase the bottom memory entry to 20% larger. Try to open, if not successful, go back and double the memory. Remember to set the memory back. You would expect the program to tell you it needs more memory &endash; this is not always the case.
  • Delete the damaged component.
. If you know what the problem piece is, you can sometimes delete just that text or graphic causing the problem.
  • Save the file with a different name.
. If the file can be opened, save it under a different name. Then try to open the new copy. This works occasionally.
  • Duplicate the File
. This will sometimes "fix" the file - select the file in the finder and use the Duplicate Command under the Edit Menu. . If this allows the file to be opened, immediately save it under a different name. Do not trash the damaged version until you are satisfied that the copy is completely functional. This solution will sometimes indicate that the source of the corruption was a damaged hard drive structure - the directory, most commonly - after recovering the file, run your disk fix utility (DiskWarrior is recommended)
  • Copy the Contents
. Copying the contents into a new file will sometimes work, if the file can be opened and worked with. Open the file, create a new file, select all items in the damaged document, and paste into the newly created one. Immediately save the new file with a different name.Do not trash the damaged version until you are satisfied that the copy is completely functional. Sometimes there is just one component that is damaged, with some trial and error you may be able to select everything except the damaged component and copy into a new file.
  • Import the file into a new document
. - if the program allows it, or using a different program for the import will allow you to retrieve the contents for transfer into a new document.
  • Open the document in a different program.
. Occasionally, a program will be able to open a damaged file created in another program when the creating application can not. The translator used to open a foreign file may ignore the damage.
  • Disable all fonts.
. A damaged font can produce symptoms that mimic a damaged file.
  • Text retrieval
. Text can be extracted from a damaged document with some utilities. CanOpener is one. A last ditch option.
  • File recovery options
.Some appplications have a recover option in the menu. FileMaker Pro has such an option under the File Menu. Other applications will rebuild their structure with a modifier key when opened. (Option when opening Outlook Express)
  • Pay to have the file recovered.
. Some companies, such as Claris and many accounting software publishers, have a service available to recover damaged files. It can be very expensive.

Some Miscellaneous Tips

. When you have put more time into a file than you are willing to lose right now, save it under a different name. If a project is going to take five days to create, you may have 10 or 20 incremental copies of it - MyFile01, MyFile02...etc. This will guard against losing all your work if a file becomes corrupted.

. This assumes you are backing up your files nightly, using Retrospect or other backup software. If you don't make progressive copies of the file, at least you will be able to open the previous day's copy of the file from your backup.

. If you have a tremendously complex file, consider closing it, opening it, and printing it at the end of each day. This will partially ensure that the document is sound at the end of the day.

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