Fixing Corrupt Access Files

What should you do when your Access database starts behaving strangely?
Don’t panic. Calmly start investigating the problems that you’re experiencing, and see if you can isolate the cause of the ugly data that you’re seeing on your screen.puzzle

Reboot your computer

The most likely cause of Access screens showing scrambled eggs instead of ordinary data is a temporary memory glitch. In addition to running Access, you’re probably running a handful of other programs on your PC.
Truth is, in addition to the tiny number of applications that you’ve launched, Windows is likely running about three dozen processes in the background. Any one of these applications and processes can behave badly and cause memory problems that affect other programs that are running, including Access.

At the first sign of strange data appearing in your database, close your files and exit Access. Stop running all of the other applications that you’ve launched, and shut down your PC normally. Count to 10, and turn the computer back on. Re-launch Access, open your database, and see if the problem has gone away. Serious Access database problems are fairly rare. Problems caused by programs corrupting other programs’ memory, on the other hand, are quite common. Rebooting your computer will solve most of these problems.

Use the Access Compact & Repair Function

If you’re still seeing strange data, or if your database macros seem to be struggling, you may have a simple problem with your Access database.
Access has a built-in repair tool that can fix many of these problems.

Begin by making a copy of your database. If your repair efforts make the database worse, you will want to be able to restore your files to their original, slightly compromised state.

Once your copy has been made, open your database in Exclusive mode to ensure that no other users are trying to work with this database. Click File, click Info, and click Compact & Repair Database.

Access will examine every database record to make sure that it is sound.
It will ignore deleted records, resulting in a smaller database. And if the compact and repair function is successful, every record in every table will be clean. The built-in compact and repair function will fix your tables, but not your reports or forms.

Restore from a backup file

If you’re still experiencing problems with your database, then it’s time to restore the latest backup database. Use the backup copy that was taken just before you noticed the problem. Finally you’ll feel gratified that you had taken the time to make database backups for your critical data.

Try restoring the backup to a clean folder or, better yet, to a different machine. Test the restored database. Only after you are confident that your backup files work properly should you erase your current (corrupt) files and replace them with the backups. And, of course, you’ll have to make any changes and additions to the database that you’d made since you created the backup file that you used to restore your database.

Use a professional repair program

If you’re still unable to use the Access database, then it’s time to run a professional Access repair program such as DataNumen Access Repair.
Unlike the repair function that is built into Access, DataNumen Access Repair does not take an “all or nothing” approach to fixing your damaged databases. It can intelligently examine every aspect of your databases, including reports and forms, and determine what can be fixed and what cannot.

If part of your database resides on a disk track that has become physically damaged, for example, then no recovery application can access that track. But DataNumen’s recovery program is designed to maximize the amount of data that can be recovered from damaged Access files. It’s an affordable insurance policy for your company’s data files. Learn more about DataNumen Access Repair on

Alan Chen is President and Chairman of DataNumen, Inc., whose data recovery technologies include Access repair, SQL recovery software products, and more than 20 other software recovery applications. For more information about the DataNumen line of data repair and recovery applications, visit

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