[Solved] Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

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[Solved] Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby ed40 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:17 pm

Hi,
I've been trawling through threads all day trying to work out how to get the characters back.

The document is a standard .odt, it was working fine last night, I saved it before shutting down, it's a large file (1.25mb), I have a backup but it's from around 20 days ago, so all my recent work is lost!

When I try to open the document I get asked to set ASCII filter options, I just get ##################.... spanning the full length of the document.

I've heard of people zipping the file and extracting the content.xml, I've attempted to do this with a copy but cannot even open it as a zip file?
I've also tried popular recovery tools with no luck.

The document contains personal material so i'm frustratingly unable to upload it, if anyone could give me any help i'd be really grateful.
Last edited by ed40 on Sun Mar 30, 2014 6:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby RoryOF » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:26 pm

Look in the temp directory pointed to by /Tools /Options /OpenOffice.org : Paths and rename any files of about the correct date, time and size to .odt and see if they will open. Also worth trying an undelete utility such as PhotoRec or Recuva, which may recover an earlier version.

You possibly were over hasty in power down of the computer, as the zip file is damaged according to your report.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Mar 29, 2014 1:23 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum!

Sadly, quite nothing to do I fear, see: 22 pages term paper replaced with pound signs.

Check the temporary folder of the system (see in OO Tools>Options>OO>Paths). If there are folders like sgmlf.tmp with a file having the same name inside, make a copy of that file, rename it in .odt and cross your fingers. If you have not rebooted, you might have those files still there.

Under Windows 7, I think there is also the shadow feature that should give you the possibility to retrieve an older version.

No need to upload the file, it's definitively wrecked. Any backup in the profile See [Tutorial] The OpenOffice User Profile.

If you want to help fix this problem, you can also do this survey created for this very problem: Document Recovery Survey.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby John_Ha » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:01 pm

You can take the following precautions to help you if it happens again. That being said, I have been using AOO for ~15 years and it has never happened to me. I edit a magazine and create 60 - 70 new odt files each month, where each file is typically saved 5 or 6 times during the editing process.

1 Always, always, always take a daily backup of changed files.

2 Tools > Options > Load/Save > General. Tick Always create a backup copy. AOO then saves the previous version of the document as a .bak file in the path specified in Tools > Options > General > Paths. You may need to switch on hidden files to see it. Note that every time you save an open file, the bak file gets updated with the file as previously saved.

3 Give AOO time to finish writing the file when you close AOO. If using a laptop, don't be too hasty shutting the lid. AOO can take several seconds or longer to write a large odt file.

4 If you save to a USB memory stick, give more time for the file to be written (USB is slower than disk), and use Safe Eject before removing it (to be certain the write cache is flushed and written to the USB stick).
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby Bill » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:34 pm

Hagar Delest wrote:Under Windows 7, I think there is also the shadow feature that should give you the possibility to retrieve an older version.

Right-click the file in Windows Explorer and select Restore previous versions.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby ed40 » Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:58 am

Thanks for your replies.

Finally recovered full version!
It's been such a rough day, I didn't want to say in my original post (felt like such an idiot for not backing up more recently), but I had lost well over 30k words.

To begin with I was fairly confident I could fix the problem, when I realised I may not be able to I was just in a complete blind panic, then I got more practical again, trying as many recovery tools as possible, from the most basic to forensic level, nothing showed at all. I was pulling out anything roughly the same size as the original and testing and testing, hoping something could be a temp file of some sort, and still nothing.

I gave up multiple times, but each time I just couldn't face the fact that i'd lost all that work, there was NO WAY that I was going to put myself through weeks of trying to remember nearly a months worth of writing. I did make a start anyway, but it just felt impossible.

I thought i'd run one more commercial recovery tool 'EaseUS', wasn't expecting anything, left it running, decided to go to sleep, it all just felt hopeless. Was waking up every 30 mins or so and running through the results, hours later on my 5th search I found sv8hw8mf.tmp, I assumed i'd already tested it, recovered and copied it anyway in a last-ditch attempt, and there it was, the complete original with no pound signs, praise the lord. I have no idea why this file wasn't picked up by anything else or why it didn't show in previous searches with the same tool.

So glad I didn't give up, and it's safe to say i've well and truly learnt my lesson, backup's to both HDD and USB, along with setting AOO to backup in load/save options, i'm also copying the raw text to wordpad\notepad and saving in a non-formatted crude form at the end of each day.

I'm going to have something to eat for the first time in 24 hrs now.
Last edited by ed40 on Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby John_Ha » Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:28 pm

Good to see you recovered it. Some additional thoughts are

1 If it is that important, you need an "off site" backup. Dropbox (or similar) will backup user selected folders to the web and keep the web folder synchronised with the PC folder. You can also recover previous versions of files from the Dropbox folder.

2 sv8hw8mf.tmp would have been deleted by AOO so it would not have appeared in the Recycle bin, and searching the PC for it based on its contents would not work. The only way to find these files is to use recovery tools which look for deleted files. You were lucky - deleted files are marked as being available for re-use and the more you use the PC after the file is deleted, the more likely the file is likely to be overwritten. Act quickly!

One question - what format was the sv8hw8mf.tmp file? Could you just rename it sv8hw8mf.odt and open it with AOO? Or was it an XML file which had the text in it?
Last edited by John_Ha on Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby ed40 » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:15 pm

Thanks for the online backup suggestion, it's something I will look into. I feel vulnerable using AOO on my current machine and feel my best bet is to 'spread backup' between multiple applications at the end of each day prior to additional off comp backup. Basic formats like .txt seem the sturdiest in my opinion, and well worth a quick copy and paste if formatting is not integral to the doc.

John_Ha wrote:One question - what format was the sv8hw8mf.tmp file? Could you just rename it sv8hw8mf.odt and open it with AOO? Or was it an XML file which had the text in it?


Yes, it was just a matter of replacing .tmp with .odt and opening it up.
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Re: Suddenly only get ####.... can anyone help me?

Postby John_Ha » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:20 pm

Thanks - I thought it must have been.

I have done some tests. I have an AOO document called fred.odt. Tools > Options > OpenOffice > Paths lists the temporary folder used by AOO (Windows 7) as C:\Users\name\AppData\Local\Temp

1 Open fred.odt. This creates a folder C:\users\name\AppData\Local\Temp\sv5mruke.tmp where the "sv5mruke" is random. Note this is a folder despite ending .tmp. This folder contains a file sv5mruvn.tmp, which is a complete odt file of fred.odt as opened. Note it has a different name from the folder, but shares some initial characters. If you re-name sv5mruke.tmp to sv5mruke.odt, it opens as normal with Writer (and un-zips as normal).

2 Add some text to fred.odt. When I add text to fred.odt, sv5mruvn.tmp does not change.

3 Save fred.odt with its new text. Each time I save fred.odt, sv5mruvn.tmp is renamed (eg to sv5mxvk5.tmp) and it now contains the saved contents of fred.odt.

4 Close fred.odt. The sv5mxvk5.tmp file is deleted, and the folder sv5mruke.tmp is deleted.

At this stage, the only way to recover the sv5mxvk5.tmp file is to use a file recovery utility to recover deleted files. I only need to search in C:\users\name\AppData\Local\Temp and folders below it.

So it appears that if you can recover the final tmp file, it will contain the contents of Fred.odt at the last but one time it was saved. You might be lucky and recover an earlier tmp file, but I would have thought that unlikely.

 Edit: I have now done some tests.

When when you create a new document, which Writer calls Untitled1, Writer creates the sv5mruke.tmp file immediately, but sv5mruke.tmp is completely empty (0 bytes long) until you manually File > Save As ... save the odt file. Meanwhile, any AutoSaves of the new, unsaved document are saved in the Backup folder as ...\Backup\Untitled_0.odt (where [see Paths] the Backup folder is at C:\Users\John\AppData\Roaming\OpenOffice\4\user\backup\). So, if you are looking for deleted temporary files for a document which you never saved, but which was AutoSaved while you were typing it, then look for deleted Untitled-0.odt files in C:\Users\John\AppData\Roaming\OpenOffice\4\user\backup\.

When you open an existing file which has already been saved before, Writer creates the sv5mruke.tmp file immediately using the contents of the "as opened" file. So, if you are looking for a deleted temporary file of a document which had been saved before you started your new edits, then look for deleted files called something like sv5mruvn.tmp in C:\users\name\AppData\Local\Temp\.

I then closed AOO and immediately used Recuva (free from http://www.piriform.com/recuva/release-notes/1.51.1063/b1/a0) to attempt to un-delete the tmp file in C:\users\name\AppData\Local\Temp\. In some cases I was completely successful - in others, the file had already been overwritten. 


 Edit: See Using Recuva to un-delete Writer temporary files for help recovering the temporary files which Writer wrote while you were editing the document, and then deleted when Writer was closed.

The post has been extensively updated [June 2016] to show how AutoRecovery files can be un-deleted for .odt files; for files which have never been saved; and for .doc files.
 
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