Computer Guide

Recovering corrupted Word files

by George Skarbek - 14 November 2006

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Q: Recently in spite of all the protection my computer suffered from an uninvited intruder. Knowing that something was wrong and Windows Defender, and Adaware could not detect it, I saved some very important stuff to CD’s. I then used the Acer recovery disc to reload the system. Everything is now fine, however on the CD`s with the saved data with several different files on each CD. All the files have been recovered with the exception of the word processor files, in each case windows tells me it cannot open the file as it must be corrupt? Is there any way I can recover these files from these CD’s? One file in particular has months of work on the history of the town I have lived in since 1944. Can you help?

Without examining that file I cannot say what has gone wrong. There are a couple of methods that you can try. From Word and choose File, Open, you can then choose
"Recover text from any file" from the Files of type drop down list.

If this does not help then open that Word file with WordPad or Notepad. If WordPad does not help then open that file in Notepad by using Windows Explorer and right clicking on the file, Select Open With and then pick Notepad.

It should open and show a lot of junk at the beginning of the file, but you should be able to read and salvage most of the text. All formatting and graphics will be lost.

When you have eliminated the rubbish you can save the text and then open it in Word and re-format the document. By Clicking on Format, and then Word Wrap it will make it easier for you to see the text.

Added security with a second drive

Q: I tried to repair the system by entering the XP disk but no go. I then restored XP for the second time in ten days, which is a pain in the butt. What is the use of having a second drive and an external drive when you cannot boot the system to access them? Can you back up drivers, files and added programmes to an external drive? Of course you still have the problem of emails on Outlook express. So when you have to restore XP you can transfer the data to C drive.

I use two physical drives in my system and do this for all my clients. I also use a program such as Acronis to create an image of drive C on the other drive. Then I set up this imaging software to run daily and to keep the last five or seven images depending if they have been used on the weekends. Using this method you can always recover a prior version of any file up a week back.

In case of a drive failure or extensive software corruption, you can install a new hard disk for this drive, or use Format C to reformat the original, and then boot on the CD used to create the image, such as Acronis or Ghost to start the recovery process, and 15 to 20 minutes later your entire drive C is back as it was, including the mail and all configurations, patches, etc.

When using a second hard drive you should put the swap file (named pagefile.sys) onto the second hard disk for two good reasons. One is to improve performance as the read / write on both drives can work simultaneously, and the other is that a typical swap file will be well over 1 GB in size and contains only transient rubbish files when paging files to and from memory and there is absolutely no reason to waste time and disk space in backing up that huge file. For similar reasons temporary Internet files should also be moved to the other drive.

Moving the swap file is done from Control Panel, System, Advanced, Performance, Settings, Advanced tab, Virtual Memory and after making the changes, make sure that you click on Set for both drives and then ignore the warning. After a reboot the very large swap file will be on the other partition

Collapsed operating system

Q:I have a problem with loading the operating system recently. The 'Welcome Screen' does not come properly and got the following message.  “The system is not fully installed. Please run set up again."  In addition, in Safe Mode another message comes up: "c_20127.nls' on Windows XP Home Edition, CD-ROM is needed." It sounds like the OS is collapsed. Could you any suggestions to solve these problems?  At the moment I cannot find the Windows CD.  For your information, that PC does not have Internet connection.

The only way to fix such corruption is to boot on the Windows CD and re-install or repair the current Windows.

You will have to borrow a CD and use your key if you it kept it separate from the CD.


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