Attn.: InDesign Salvage Operations Team

Relief workers inspect smashed carriages after railway accident at Camp Mountain, Queensland

Justin asks,

do you have any tips for recovering “damaged” files?

when i try to open a layout i was just working on, it prompts me to fix the file from recovered data, then notifies me that the file may be damaged; it starts to recover, but then the program quits altogether.

[. . .] if there’s no easy solution, this means a ton of work lost … are you familiar with this quandary? any suggestions?

Anyone? Anyone? I haven’t experienced this in a long time, so my response was vague:

. . . the first thing to try would probably be moving your preferences folder to the desktop and forcing InDesign to rebuild it. That’ll get the program to launch properly, at least, and then maybe you can recover the file from there. Details:
InDesign Secrets: Rebuilding InDesign Preferences.

The second option would be trying to get someone at Adobe to look at it, by posting a query on the forums. Sometimes they respond pretty quickly.

Finally, if the time you’d lose redoing everything would be worth $99,
you could send the document to Markzware for their voodoo file rescue
service: Markzware blog: Fix your Bad Adobe InDesign Files!

Other suggestions? If the file could be opened, I’d say export to .inx; that cures a lot of ills. When you can’t open it, though, I dunno.

I should also mention here that perhaps one reason this hasn’t happened to me in a long time is that I regularly create new save-as versions while I work—foo(1).indd → foo(2). indd → foo(2b).indd (a variant I’m not sure about) → etc. Doing a “save as” compresses the file, and I feel in my heart that it removes a lot of potentially corrupting gunk and thereby keeps my files more stable. Having snapshots of all those previous stages also makes it easier to roll back parts of a file, selectively.

An aside: Does anybody out there use Version Cue? I’ve never bothered. Does it help with this kind of stuff at all?

One thought on “Attn.: InDesign Salvage Operations Team

  1. Your first two options from your reply were standard procedure in the ID-based shop two jobs ago. I somehow became the designated “search Adobe forums/Usenet” person, probably because tech support at that company was woefully uneducated in ID and Quark, and I got frustrated enough to say, “Screw them, someone else has to have run into this, I want this fixed!” So folks began coming to me instead of submitting help tickets. And all for a third of what our IT folks made! No wonder I stole so many Sharpies.

    Because our computers at that shop were less than stable, we began dancing the save-as shuffle in our pre-ID Quark days, and kept the instinct to do so when we adopted ID. We also believed that extra step somehow created degunked files. All I know is that the one designer who never did it, despite repeat exhortations, had file crashes all the time, and lagged behind those who left paths to reconstruct their work.

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