File Corruption Explanation
File corruption occurs whenever data becomes damaged in some way. The damage may be minimal, affecting only a few elements in a large file. For example, a text document that becomes corrupted may suddenly contain a series of box characters where a paragraph used to be. Likewise, the damage caused by file corruption can be quite extensive, destroying the contents of an entire folder or drive.
Corruption can occur for many different reasons. Generally speaking, however, the causes of file corruption typically break down into six categories:
- physical problems with the storage media
- hardware malfunctions
- natural disasters
- software errors
- human errors
The first three sources of corruption relate to the storage media, while the latter three relate to the files themselves.
Any time your system crashes while users are in the AccountEdge file can cause a file corruption. Interruption of data transmission causes information loss. A couple of examples of this would be:
- Wireless networks are the arch nemesis of the data file. Wireless networks are susceptible to interference from devices such as microwave ovens. If the wireless network crashes or suffers interference, this could impact your data file.
- Users trying to access the file in a multi user environment that do not have proper permissions to the AccountEdge folder or are not set up with appropriate user access and permissions to the file can cause users logging in behind them to get kicked out of the file when the program terminates.
- Screen savers, power saver options, that shut the computer down while the company file is open can cause damage after a repeated period of time.
Data loss caused by storage has two broad causes: hardware and software.
There are two types of data loss:
- Undetected—also known as "silent corruption." These problems have been attributed to errors during the write process to disk. These are the more dangerous errors as there is no indication that the data is incorrect. Hard disk errors on your computer could cause problems when backing up or attempting to save the file, particularly in the case of excessively large files.
- Detected—these errors are most often caused by disk drive problems. Errors may either be permanent or temporary. Substandard, obsolete or poorly configured routers can impact both performance in a multi user environment and increase the risk of file corruption.
Computer viruses, as you would think, can contribute to file corruption. Certain remote access programs or third party software (CADCAM programs are the most obvious) can cause conflict that can lead to corruption.
Natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, etc., that cause extended power loss usually lead to file corruptions. Interruptions to your computer like a power failure, the corresponding power surge, or a user mistakenly turning off the power while the file is open can contribute to a corruption.
Optimize and verify your company file according to a regular schedule. The general rule of thumb should be—if I have to re-enter data—how far back could I get away with? If re-entering a week’s worth of data would be acceptable—then make the schedule weekly. If one day is too much data to re-enter—then optimize and verify on a daily basis. The key is that this will detect and inform you of any errors that may exist.
If you experience any interruption in access to the data file—we suggest using the Optimization Assistant. Although the Optimization Assistant is designed to make your company file more efficient, it also is capable of fixing certain types of company file corruption. We recommend that you use the Optimization Assistant on a regular basis to keep your company file operating at its peak.
You can find the Optimization Assistant in the accounting software program folder that was created when you installed our software.
If you're able to optimize the file without errors, we recommend that you then use the Verification Utility to be sure your company file is in its "healthiest" form. You can find the Verify Company File command under the File menu when you're working with your accounting program.
Make regular backups of your company file. The same rule of thumb should apply, as with optimizing and verifying—if you had to re-enter data—how much would be too much? A day, a week, a month? Based on the answer to that question—that’s how frequently you should schedule backups.
Purge data. If you’re file is larger than it needs to be because you have older data that you no longer need/use—consider purging.
Dealing with Corruption
There are three possible options to deal with a corruption. Depending on what's wrong with the file and how long the corruption has been building determines which of these will be possible for you to use.
- You can optimize the company file (File > Optimize Company File). Included within the software is something called the Optimization Assistant. It can fix some errors that occur to the company database. You only want to do this process from the machine that the company file is on - never across the network. After Optimizing make sure to Verify the company file (File > Verify Company File) to ensure all of the corruption has been cleared out.
- If you backup your file regularly, you can try to determine when the corruption occurred and restore a backup file from prior to the corruption occurred. After restoring the backup - verify the file to check for errors (File > Verify Company File). If the file passes verification you should be fine. If not you can attempt option 1.
- PLEASE NOTE: Any information that has been entered since the backup was created will be lost and will need to be re-entered.
- If neither of the other two options work for you (or if you have a backup that is too old to be manageable) you can contact us and send the file into our Company File Services team. The AccountEdge Company File Services team can run your file through a diagnostic program to try and determine the extent of the corruption and can create an estimate for how much it would potentially cost to repair the file.