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Finding Corrupt Files

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It is natural for even an experienced computer user to become frustrated or scared or angry when a screen message states that a file is bad, corrupt, or damaged. Sometimes, there are no messages, as such. Instead a file will crash, or the application will be sluggish, if it is responding at all.

When one creates a file on one's computer, the computer records its size and where on the disk it has been saved. Some software applications create temporary files as one is working, even before the file has been saved. If, for some reason, the application crashes or power is lost, those temporary files may be in the C: Temp file and can be recovered, at least in part. However, computer users cannot really count on their hard work being recoverable, if they haven't yet done a File | Save.

At times, a file is corrupt because the computer does not, or cannot, read all of the data in it. Therefore, some of the file is missing. At other times, odd bits of data have been added to the file, making it larger than it is supposed to be. Then again, the file may still be intact, but is not located where the computer expects it to be. Finally, a damaged file is one that has had some of its data overwritten by data from another file.

Why Is My File Corrupt?

File corruption is a mystifying thing because there are so many possible, even probable, causes. These first three causes, with prevention steps, are near the top of the list:

1. Fragmented files from frequent saves. It is important to save work frequently. Any computer professional does this all the time. Depending on the critical nature of the work, saving every 5 minutes is not too often, but no matter what, one should save one's work at least every 15 minutes. However, the defrag(mentation) utility needs to be run on at least a weekly basis, if not daily.

2. Punching the power switch without shutting down open programs first. Users should never just power off the computer, unless everything is totally frozen, and the regular shutdown process is not responding. Lack of patience, or rushing out the door at quitting time, creates more grief for the IT guys and gals who must make other employees wait while they fix problems that we ourselves created.

3. A computer virus has infected the system. Most companies have a firewall, and also keep their anti-virus software current. Any laxity will allow viruses in, especially if one of them is brand new. Viruses and their relatives are frequently spread through e-mails and e-mail attachments. Due to this, everyone must accept the responsibility of installing anti-virus software on their home computers, and keep it up-to-date. Anything less will get you banned from your friends' e-mail, and rightfully so.

Other Causes of Corrupt Files

Other reasons for a file to become corrupted or damaged are too numerous to list. However, some of them are hardware-related. This includes a cable or other network component getting damaged or broken in some way. Hard drives also wear out after frequent use, making file backup important. Neighborhood power outages can be a disaster, so everyone should purchase and hook up a universal power supply (back-up battery) unit. This gives a computer system sufficient time to shut down gracefully, avoiding damaged files and applications.

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