I was approached by Stellar Phoenix to review their Access Database Repair software.
After performing a few tests, here are my thoughts on the matter:
Password Encrypted Files
The first hurdle that I faced was the fact that I encrypt most of my databases with a password. Sadly, Access Database Repair cannot work with such files! To me this is a major limitation.
Recovering Deleted Records
One of the nice feature was the fact that Access Repair offers the ability to recover deleted records. That said, the way in which it works had me very confused. It offers no way to reinserted the deleted records back into the originating table, but rather one must save the recovered database in which a new table will be created with the deleted records. It is not the way I would have built the software, but it does work and then you can use queries to recover the records of interest.
As per other freely available recovery techniques, it is impossible to recover deleted records once a database is compacted.
File corruption comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. One form of corruption that I recently was faced with was the fact that an unknown user had erroneously open an MS Access database in MS Word (why, I have no clue). By doing so, the MS Access database became corrupted and no longer functioned. I then checked with fellow MVPs and was surprised that this occurs more often than I thought. So I decided to try to recover a recently corrupted database using Stellar Phoenix, but it was unable to recover the file stating:
I also tried to repair a database which had a corrupted form. What the exact nature of the form corruption was is unknown to me, but I do know that it became corrupted. Sadly, Access Database Repair was unable to fix the problem.
I then sent an e-mail to my point of contact at Stellar Phoenix to ask for clarifications and below was the list of corruptions that they claim Access Database Repair Addresses:
Symptom 1: Cannot open a form or report
Symptom 2: Number of records varies, depending how the data is sorted (index corruption)
Symptom 3: Some table rows show ‘Deleted’
Symptom 4: Memo field contains strange characters.
Symptom 5: “An error occurred while loading Form_FormName”
Symptom 6: “Error Accessing File. Network Connect May Have Been Lost”
Symptom 7: “AOIndex is not an index in this table”
Symptom 8: Key field is no longer primary key, and relationships are gone
I’m not sure what to think. I will need to do further testing to truly know how effective a tool Access Database Repair truly is.
My other thought on the matter is that in many cases, the solutions to many (if not all) of the symptoms is freely available and various resources exist to help. For instance:
For me, corruption, the possibility of corruption, simply reinforce the critical importance of Backups for all files (not just MS Access databases)! By implementing a proper backup strategy, the repair of corrupted files becomes unnecessary.
more to come…