Rescue And Recovery: What To Do When
Things Go Really, Really Wrong
month , I shared techniques to help repair corrupt Access
databases. Those methods (Compact and Repair, and Decompile) will
help in many cases. However every once in a while you find a
database that just refuses to work properly. In this instance, the
problem cannot be isolated to a corruption issue- internally, things
have simply gone awry.
Recovering a database in this situation requires more drastic
steps, but it may still be possible. When you're faced with this
dilemma and have tried Compact and Repair and Decompile, you are
still left with one last resort: creating a new database and
importing all the objects from the troubled database. We'll walk
through that process this month.
|First Things First|
If you're still able to open the problematic database, it
makes an awful lot of sense to grab what you can, while you
Frist, Make a screenshot of the Startup Menu screen. To
easiest way to do this is to select Tools > Startup from
You'll see a screen somewhat like the example shown above.
Take a screen shot (Alt + PrtSc) and paste it into a Word
document (don't forget to save the document!) The reason the
information on this screen is useful is because it shows any
special settings in your current database that you want to be
sure to set up in the new database.
Capture special settings created in the Options menu as
well (available from Tools > Options). Make screen shots of
any screens that show selections different from the default
settings; since it's not easy to detect these differences,
this is a case when its better to have too much information
rather than not enough.
In a like manner, if you have written any code for your
application, you'll want to capture any references you've
made. From the code window (control-g will get you there), go
to Tools > References. From the menu that pops up make a
screenshot of any references that you've set in your
applications (see example below).
|On to Rescue|
Now completely close out of your old application and start
a brand-new application. Be sure not to use a template or any
starter file that you might use for new applications. In this
case, it's important that you start with a brand-new,
From the tables tab (or the tables object list if you're
using 2003) select New Table. You'll get the screen below.
From this list choose Import Table. You'll have an
opportunity to browse to a file; browse to the database file
that is giving you trouble.
You'll see the screen below where you can select the
components you wish to import:
Click on each of the tabs and choose Select All and move on
to the next tab. After you've selected all on each tab, click
At this point Access will import each of the objects from
your old database file into your new database file. During
this process, you'll often discover that one of the objects
will not import properly and you'll get an error message
letting you know that that particular object is corrupt beyond
recovery. You'll have to manually rebuild that particular
item; however, you'll have rescued all of the other objects in
your database and now have a solid starting point for
recovering your application.
As a last step, utilize the screen shots you made earlier
to check the selections you'd made in your former database on
the Startup, Options, and References settings.
At this point you'll have a new file which you can use as a
starting point for moving forward from your "corrupt beyond
repair" file. Of course, you'll want to give this new database
a distinctive name to mark it as new. This rebuilding process
is not something that you would do casually, but it can rescue
you from a very difficult and painful situation.
|Trap of the Month - Avoid Database
The past two months I've been talking about problems with
corrupt databases. I've already mentioned that Network
Interface Cards are a frequent source of the problem; however,
there are some instances where user behavior is the cause. The
primary example of this is not properly closing a database. If
you shut off your computer using the power button (and not the
recommended process of shutting down your computer through the
Start menu) while a database is open, you could damage that
Also, damage can be caused when more than one user accesses
the same record at the same time. In theory, Access handles
the situation without a problem. However, in practice there
are times where this behavior damages the database. I'll talk
about this in more detail in the future. In the meantime, if
you suspect you're in a situation where multiple users access
the same database at the same time, you want to read up on
record locking to avoid damaging the file.
Tip of the Month - Drag and Drop tables between
Frequently when you create a database you'll find that
there are certain utility (not data) tables that you'd like to
grab from an existing database to use in your new database.
Utility tables are used to manage the data in the application.
An easy way to import a copy of a table from one database
to another database is to open both databases in separate
windows and align them side by side on your desktop. Then
simply drag and drop the table from the source to the
destination database. This does not remove the table from the
source database, it simply copies it to the new database.
Alternatively, you can left click on the table that you
want to copy and choose Edit > Copy. Open the new database
and then choose Edit > Paste.