Longtime subscriber David from the U.K. wrote asking for tips to help him recover a Microsoft Works database:
Wonder of you or anyone can shed any light on this: Small MS Works database of incoming deliveries, dates and invoice numbers. Suddenly unable to open. “Works cannot open the file you selected. May be corrupted or a type that database cannot open”.
The back-up (goes to a laptop) is also unusable as the back-up program I use works on real-time alterations and whatever happened to the file on the main machine has obviously been transferred to the back-up, as I get the same error message! Doh!
I wasn’t using the machine when the database was last altered but user said they just entered in the fields as usual, saved and closed. Nothing odd.
I have tried a trial of an MS Works-specific database (.wdb) recovery program and it says there is no data to recover. Like-wise trying a format conversion program. Fields come up but there is nothing in them. Size is about 16KB, which seems about right.
Last two year’s sales and deliveries databases open fine. Just this one suddenly giving problems. It’s not the end of the world, as it’s only been going since the beginning of the year and can be re-done but it would be good to restore it, if possible!
Any ideas, folks?
Unfortunately, I don’t know a fix for you. I haven’t used Works since the mid 1990’s.
There is an important lesson for everyone to learn from David’s problem.
A “realtime backup” is not actual backup for anything other than physical failure of the hard drive, as David just discovered.
The only copy that you can consider a backup is one that you make occasionally, and then remove from the computer. Whether "remove" means to take out the DVD onto which you made a copy of your data, or it means to disconnect an external hard drive, a file that you routinely change and modify is not a reliable backup.
Fortunately David can recreate his lost data, if he’s unable to recover the database itself. After a few more months, recreating the database would have been a much more significant effort.
So, do you have a suggestion for David on how to recover his data?