So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

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So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:31 pm

Hello,

I know this has been discussed before but i couldn't find a solution.

As I tried to open my ~60 pages masters thesis today OpenOffice prompted me with ASCII filter options. There was no option for recovery or anything and now my work consists of a string of ###############. I have tried to open a copy of the document on different computers and it's always the same. Renaming it to *.zip and trying to open it with 7zip or repairing it didn't work either. As I remember the last changes I made consisted in the addition of some pictures. The file has been forwarded between computers working with Windows and Ubuntu. I didn't have the backup-option activated (i sure do now...).

I've uploaded the file to dropbox and you should be able to download it using this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fajs3gt9tk5sb ... t.odt?dl=1

I'm desperate for any help.

best wishes,
Catweazle
Last edited by Catweazle on Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby RoryOF » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:34 pm

As soon as possible do the following:

Download Recuva or PhotoRec (only one needed) and let it do an indepth recovery of deleted files on your computer. You may get a file containing some or all of your data (or not). Do this as a first priority; other use of the computer may overwrite any existing but deleted files and prevent their recovery. There is no guarantee that you will recover anything useful.

Do the above soonest! Do not wait for anything else - there is little prospect of recovering anything from your file, but do this NOW!
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby RoryOF » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:38 pm

I got nothing from your damaged file. Perhaps some other volunteer may, but don't wait - do what I said in my previous posting.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:46 pm

Thanks for the suggestion.
I tried Recuva but it didn't find my document. I last worked on it on September 27th, so I guess it's to late for that.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby John_Ha » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:59 pm

Your file is full of nulls - there is, literally, nothing inside it.

All is not lost even if it was last saved on 27 Sep.

See [Tutorial] How to find and un-delete Writer temporary files for help on locating backup files, AutoSave files and if that fails, the temporary files which Writer wrote while you were editing the file. If you do not feel you can do this, enlist the assistance of a computer literate person immediately - do not use, switch off or hibernate the PC as this could overwrite the deleted files you need to recover.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:36 pm

Thanks for the tip.

I found one file which was edited on the right date. It's called sv75f6l.tmp which - as far as I know - suggests it might be an Open Office file. I cant open it however, even after changing the name to Gesamt.odt which is the original name.

I've uploaded it to dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jxfl6kyw057sy ... l.tmp?dl=1
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby John_Ha » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:50 pm

Strangely, that too is full of zeros/nulls.

The good news is you are finding files with the correct type of names - are there any more? They should be quite large - 100 pages of close, 12point text without images, is about 3.5 MBytes.

Undelete everything with the correct type of name and check them all out. Some will be images.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:23 pm

John_Ha wrote:The good news is you are finding files with the correct type of names - are there any more?


Didn't find any more and the one I found was in the regular temp folder. Recuva didn't find any more either.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby John_Ha » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:29 pm

I assume you are looking in the Temporary Files folder specified by Tools > Options > OpenOffice > Paths.

Do you have an SSD? If so, it deletes the data in deleted files, rather than just marking them as re-usable, so as to speed the write time the next time they are used. You may therefore not find any after such a long delay.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby RoryOF » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:34 pm

If, as you say, it was edited between computers using Windows and Ubuntu, you may find an earlier version on the other computer, either in backup or erased form.
How was it transferred between computers? Might there be a copy on the transfer medium (a USB stick?)?
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:39 pm

John_Ha wrote:I assume you are looking in the Temporary Files folder specified by Tools > Options > OpenOffice > Paths.

Exactly.

John_Ha wrote:Do you have an SSD? If so, it deletes the data in deleted files, rather than just marking them as re-usable, so as to speed the write time the next time they are used. You may therefore not find any after such a long delay.

It's an SSD. So I guess all is lost, right?

RoryOF wrote:If, as you say, it was edited between computers using Windows and Ubuntu, you may find an earlier version on the other computer, either in backup or erased form.
How was it transferred between computers? Might there be a copy on the transfer medium (a USB stick?)?

I had to rewrite and rearrange a large portion of it. Thoos was supposed to be the final version. I checked my other computers and USB-Sticks but there's nothing on it. I'm not starting from scratch but I lost about a month of work.


Thanks for your efforts, though.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:50 pm

I'll just crawl under the bathroom sink and cry for about an hour or two in a fetal position. That should help at least a little. Then I'll get back to work. :)
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby MPEcho » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:21 pm

Catweazle wrote:I'll just crawl under the bathroom sink and cry for about an hour or two in a fetal position. That should help at least a little. Then I'll get back to work. :)


Before doing that, one more idea. You didn't answer (as far as I can tell) how you transferred the file back and forth. But you shared files here with Dropbox. Is that what you used? If so, see if you can recover a prior version:
https://www.dropbox.com/en/help/11

Look for similar if using another cloud tool.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby RoryOF » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:24 pm

To prevent this happening again, be careful to use the formal computer shut down procedure and wait a few seconds to be sure all disk activity has ceased before powering off. This form of corruption may happen when the computer is powered off before all disk activity has ceased.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby MPEcho » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:32 pm

RoryOF wrote:To prevent this happening again, be careful to use the formal computer shut down procedure and wait a few seconds to be sure all disk activity has ceased before powering off. This form of corruption may happen when the computer is powered off before all disk activity has ceased.


Correct, and if using thumb drives, unmount the drive before removing. That is "Safely remove hardware" in Windows.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby John_Ha » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:38 pm

Catweazle wrote:It's an SSD. So I guess all is lost, right?

Unfortunately, probably so. Had you attempted to recover it the same day, you might have been more lucky.

This is akin to shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted but, if you have a rotating disk as well, you could direct the Temp folder to it - that way your temporary files will be available if it happens again.

What I do when I have an important document is I create a zip file of the folder containing the document every day and save it. That way I have a copy of the document as it was on any one day since I started it - how often do you delete something, only to want it back again later. Also, being in a zip file means you cannot (easily) accidentally start editing yesterdays file. In extremis, just email a copy to yourself - if your emails are retained on the mail server, you now have a dated backup.

Of course, the three most important things to do are, in order of importance:

1 Backup daily
2 Backup daily
3 Backup daily

... always to a separate disk (or even a USB memory stick), and to an on-line system in case of theft or fire.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby Catweazle » Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:15 am

MPEcho wrote: You didn't answer (as far as I can tell) how you transferred the file back and forth. But you shared files here with Dropbox. Is that what you used? If so, see if you can recover a prior version:
https://www.dropbox.com/en/help/11


I thought about that, too. But unfortunately I didn't backup the file on dropbox.

For all the other advise about backing up my files: much appreciated. I actually used dropbox with my laptop and private computer. I also worked with several backups. But since the beginning of last month I worked on a friends computer because of severe noise pollution in my flat. From that point on I threw those measures overboard thinking it was just a temporary situation before I'd get back to my usual workstation - which was very careless. I guess I just learned that the hard way.

Thanks again for all the advise,
Catweazle
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby RoryOF » Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:03 am

In the circumstances that a file needs to be edited among different computers, I recommend a small USB HD rather than a USB stick. No matter what device one uses, one MUST observe the USB removal protocols (and leisurely at that), ensuring all write activity is finished before removal of the device. Look at the activity light on the device - this will often give one late flash. If one is in the habit of whipping the device out, that late write might not have taken place, possibly resulting in the loss of the file data and/or corruption of the device's file structure.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby John_Ha » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:03 am

Windows now has a feature which allows users to disable write cacheing to USB devices so you can safely remove a USB memory stick virtually immediately - the write speed is many MBytes/sec. Mine (W7) was set to ON on installation.See Safely Remove USB Drives Just by Unplugging Them which says:
Safely Remove USB Drives Just by Unplugging Them

Most Windows users have become conditioned over time to never unplug a USB flash drive or hard drive without first clicking Safely Remove Hardware in the System Tray.

Why is that necessary? In theory, it's to ensure that Windows isn't busy reading from or writing to the drive when you remove it, something that could result in corrupted data or even a damaged drive. [When cacheing is enabled, and an application writes to the USB device, the data is first written to the PC memory and the signal "write complete" is returned to the application. Windows then copies the data from the cache to the USB device when it gets time to do so and, if the PC is exceptionally busy, there may be a delay before the write to the USB device is completed.]

As it turns out, however, you can safely sidestep Safely Remove Hardware with little to no loss of performance. In fact, this option may already be enabled on your system, and you just didn't know it. Yep, you may have been wasting extra clicks all this time.

Do this:

1. Plug your USB drive into your PC, then open Device Manager. (Note: These steps are based on Windows 7. Things might look different in previous versions of Windows.)

2. Expand Disk Drives, then find the entry for your removable drive. On my system, for example, it's called "USB2.0 Flash Disk USB Device."

3. Right-click that entry, then click Properties.

4. Click the Policies tab; you should see something like this:

Clipboard01.png

5. If the first option, Quick removal, is already selected, you're good to go. As noted in its description, "you can disconnect the device safely without using the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon." If Better performance is selected, switch to Quick removal and click OK.

So, what are giving up by disabling write caching?

According to the test results posted at 7tutorials, almost nothing. The performance impact was negligible. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think it's worth a few milliseconds to avoid the hassles of having to mess with Safely Remove Hardware all the time.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby MPEcho » Fri Oct 07, 2016 6:01 pm

John_Ha wrote:Windows now has a feature which allows users to disable write cacheing to USB devices . . .
Safely Remove USB Drives Just by Unplugging Them

. . .
So, what are giving up by disabling write caching?



But be careful. I have seen people click "save" close the lid on their laptop, and yank out their thumb drive all within a second. If you were working on a small file that can save in that length of time, fine. But if still writing, you can still toast a file. There is no substitute for being sure that the file has finished writing - one of the things accomplished by unmounting the drive.

As for the hassle of unmounting. You can skip the multiple steps of clicking the drive in the taskbar. If you have file explorer open, right click the device and select "Eject" One step and done.
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Re: So my masters thesis is now 100 pages of #########

Postby RoryOF » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:05 pm

But one must be certain to have saved and closed the file before doing so.
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