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Open Office saves the day

March 16, 2009

Y’know, jump drives aren’t totally reliable.  Their little bits go bad sometimes and the document you were working on becomes corrupted.*  This happened to a professor today, and several hours of his work was at stake.

Trying to retrace your steps from memory on a complex document that you are producing under deadline is no fun at all, and we have all been there.  I quickly copied the document to the desktop and tried opening it again.  Nope, Microsoft Word 2007 wanted nothing to do with it, not even with the “Repair” and “Recover” functions.  I opened it in Notepad++ and recovered at least most of the text, but the formatting was gone.

But I had one other trick up my sleeve.  Copying it to a network drive, I went back downstairs to the desktop computer in my office and opened it up in the Open Office word processor.  Almost all of the formatting was intact. I saved it again with a new filename and a .doc extension and emailed it back to the professor.

Not that it would work every time, but it’s worth a try. 

* (A couple strategies here.  First, “Save As” multiple versions of your documents as you go, like this: Mar09report_ver1.doc, mar09report_ver2.doc, and so on.  If the document is really important, copy to more than one drive – perhaps a jump drive and a network drive.  If it’s really, really important, burn it on a CD and take it offsite.  Also, every once in a while, burn the contents of your jump drive to a DVD, check that the copy is good, then reformat your jump drive and copy your files back onto it.  Keep the DVD as a backup.  And don’t use a jump drive for more than a year or so.)

Categories: Geeky, Software
  1. March 17, 2009 at 15:12 | #1

    Of everything I deal with in my years of IT service I hated it when someone came to me with a corrupt file or missing file. The solution is never perfect and it always seemed to eat up most of my day trying to solve the problem.

    I will have to keep Open Office in mind though as a solution.

  2. March 17, 2009 at 18:33 | #2

    Just think of all the time and money saved by going to Open Office.

    When I need to create a Word doc with fill-in fields, I use OO Write to create it and then save it to Word format.

  3. March 17, 2009 at 19:52 | #3

    I will have to try that.  Might be easier.  I am also amused by the enthusiasm of people discovering that, through a somewhat convoluted process, Microsoft Word can now save documents as .pdf files.  OO has had that ability – one click – for many years.

    Somebody has tried to estimate the money that would be saved with open-source software, anyway. Linux magazine made a back-of-the-envelope calculation about it.

  4. gruntled atheist
    March 18, 2009 at 10:11 | #4

    I do like Open Office but would never have thought about your recovery technique.  Nice to know.  I was also not aware of reliability problems with jump drives.  Thanks.  Got to go make some backups now.

  5. March 20, 2009 at 07:14 | #5

    You’ve just saved me a ton of future pain.  Muchas gracias!

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