DBF Repair And DBF Recovery - How To Restore Lost DBF Data
Dbase has been hailed as one of the best advancements in the realm of developmental platforms. A large number of applications are designed using Dbase and its various versions, and as such rely on DBF files, the file-type designed to be used with Dbase and related application development programs such as FoxPro. While a great tool that exponentially speeds up the process of application development, Dbase is not without its problems. One of the biggest challanges faced by any developer using Dbase is the unexplained corruption of .DBF files. This often jeopardizes an entire project, and countless hours of hard work, especially when no backups exist for the file. As such, DBF file repair and recovery is a necessary addition that any developer needs to make to his/her repertoire of Dbase related skills.
How DBF Files Get Damaged:
DBF files are some of the easiest ones to corrupt due to two reasons:
- Fragile data structure - the data structure of a DBF file is arranged such that later moving the sectors on the disk, or moving the fragments of the file around can cause the data to become corrupt very easily.
- Interdependent nature of the data - damage to any single part of the DBF file makes the entire file unreadable. This makes it even riskier, since even the slightest damage to the file structure will result in entire data being irrecoverable.
In most cases, the damage occurs as the file is being saved. Errors or sudden changes in the configuration of the program saving the file can result in slight damages to the data being saved through various mechanisms such as double-writing. This makes the file unreadable for regular DBF file readers and opening the file results either in 'Cannot Open File' errors, or the data is displayed only as gibberish.
How DBF Repair Programs Work (At least the good ones)
A good DBF recovery program has four qualities:
- Ability to analyze the DBF file in small fragments.
- Intelligence to recognize where various data fragments fit and restructure it in a readable manner.
- High Compatibility with various platforms, such as multiple version of windows.
- Standard re-formatting of the DBF file. This allows multiple programs and DBF readers to understand the newly restored DBF file and actively use it.
A corrupted file usually has very little 'lost' data, and a large amount of data that is simply unreadable due to absence of a small portion. Imagine a ladder with multiple steps, each of which is needed to progress to the top. Losing just one of the many slats will prevent the progress to the top, and thus make the entire ladder unusable. This is why the whole DBF file and all the data within becomes unusable when even a small portion of data of lost or fragmented into a different section of the data structure. And this is also the reason why many DBF repair software programs fail. Even if the software is able to recognize the data and locate all the various fragments of it, if it can't place it in the exact position in the structure wher eit belongs, it will fail to fix the DBF file easily.
Once you have recovered your DBF file using a good DBF repair tool, you should make sure that similar situations don't arise again:
- Make sure that you keep a backup copy of the file in two places - on your hard-disk, and one on a removable device such as flash drive.
- Keep a copy of the file online - for example, you can email it to yourself from one account to another. Make sure that you email from one host to another, such as from a Yahoo account to a Gmail account.
- Ensure that you always save the file properly. Open the file right after saving to confirm that it was indeed saved correctly. Do not shut the program down in the middle of the save process (such as by using the Task Manager), and do not hard-boot the computer while the file is still open.
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