DBF Recovery Toolbox Usage Guide

DBF Recovery Toolbox (download) is intended for recovering damaged *.dbf table files of dBase IV, Clipper, FoxPro databases, data files of 1C configurations and other programs. The current version of the software allows you to perform the following actions:

  • Recover the structure of table fields.
  • Recover table data. The software is also capable of processing MEMO fields and files associated with them.

The table recovery process consists of several stages:

  1. Selection of a damaged table file.
  2. Initiation of the analysis process and revision of the structure and content of the recovered data.
  3. Selection of an output file.
  4. Selection of the format of the output file.
  5. Revision of the recovery log.

You can quit the program at any stage by selecting File -> Exit, by pressing the Exit button in the lower right corner of the program window or by clicking the standard Close button in the window header. If you quit the program at stage 1-3, the recovery process will not finish. Once the recovery of a .dbf file is over at stage 4, you can quit the program by pressing the Finish button. You can also press the Back button located to the left of the Exit button at any stage (except for stage 1 when a file is selected) to go one step back and view or change any of the previously specified parameters. You can also use this button to recover a different database table.

Let's take a look at a typical data recovery process in DBF Recovery Toolbox

1. - Selection of a damaged table file

Figure 1.

Immediately after DBF Recovery Toolbox starts, you will see a window prompting you for a dbf file to be recovered. You can choose the necessary file in one of the following ways:

  1. Enter the name of the file and its path into the Source file name (.dbf): field with a dropdown list. The field is located in the main working area of the window. When you start entering the name of the file and its path, the software will automatically fill the field with information from the list of files you have already recovered.
  2. Choose the file to recover using the standard open file dialog. This dialog can be brought up using the Open button to the right of the Source file name (.dbf) field. If the dialog is opened for the first time, it will start in the DBF Recovery Toolbox installation folder. In the future, it will open the folder specified in the input field or, if it can't open this folder or the field is empty, it will open the folder that was previously used for opening or saving files.
  3. Select a previously used file from the list in the Source file name (.dbf) field. The software saves the names of the files opened by the user in its settings and allows you to quickly reopen them in the future.

Besides a dbf file, a table may also include information from MEMO fields. The names of these files usually match the name of the dbf table and have one of the following extensions: *.fpt for tables in the FoxPro format or *.dbt for dBase tables. To recover the data stored in these files, you need to add them to your selection when choosing a table for recovery.

Note: If the damaged dbf file consists of MEMO fields only, but no fpt or dbt file has been specified, DBF Recovery Toolbox will only recover the structure of the field of the main table file and links to this field's file. However, the data in the external file will not be processed. Therefore, if the MEMO file has not been damaged, it will work fine with recovered table. However, if both the dbf table and the fpt/dbt file have been affected, some issues may arise.

Once you have chosen the table file to be recovered, press the Analyze button in the lower part of the program window.

If the entered path of filename is incorrect, the program will show the following warning message: Please select file to recover! - and the analysis process will not start.

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2. - Initiation of the analysis process and revision of the structure and content of the recovered data

Figure 2.

Prior to showing you the structure and content of the original table, the software will display a warning box notifying you about the start of the recovery process: Do you wish to start recovery? If you need to change the name of the dbf file, its path, or add a MEMO file to your selection, you can press No and go back to the file selection window using the Back button.

If the file names and paths are correct, press Yes. Clicking this button will start the analysis of the dbf table and the additional files of MEMO fields.

If the software detects MEMO fields while analyzing the structure of the original table, but no fpt or dbt file - serving as storage for such fields - has been specified, the program will search for such files with the same name as the original file and in the same folder. If any file is found, the program will show a corresponding notification and will suggest using it for the table analysis.

DBF Recovery Toolbox performs the following actions during the analysis and recovery process:

  1. Reads the file header, identifies the names and types of the table fields and determines the offsets for reading data records in the source file.
  2. Identifies the beginning of each record in the source table and extracts all the fields of these records. If the table contains MEMO fields, the program also identifies the links in the table records to data stored in the data file of these fields. The MEMO file itself is not processed in this case.
  3. If a file associated with MEMO fields (fpt or dbt) was specified, the software analyzes its structure and identifies the records in the file that correspond to the links from the main table.

A progress bar at the bottom of the screen allows you to quickly assess the recovery progress.

Once the analysis of the damaged dbf file is over, the recovered data will be shown in a table located in the main working area of the window. The columns of the table will correspond to the fields of the source file, while rows will represent its records.

If the file has been damaged beyond recovery, you will see a button labeled Send a file to developers at the bottom of the window. Use it to send the file to the developers of the program for thorough analysis and recovery. You can also do that at any time using the Send source file command from the Actions menu.

Once you have finished reviewing the recovered data, press the Next button located in the lower part of the program window to save the recovered data.

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3. - Selection of an output file

Figure 3.

The software makes absolutely no changes to the source dbf and associated files. It works with a data image located in the memory of your computer. Therefore, you need to save the results of the recovery process on the hard drive.

Note that saving of the recovered data only works in the registered version of the program. The trial version only allows you to view the recovered data at stage 2.

You can use one of the following methods to specify the name of the output file:

  1. Enter the file name and path of the file into the Repaired file name (.dbf): field with a dropdown list located in the main working area of the program window. The program automatically fills the input field when the open file dialog is shown. By default, it suggests saving the recovered dbf file into the same folder the original file is located in. However, it adds the _repaired suffix to the original file name. That is, if you used example.dbf, the software will suggest naming the output file example_repaired.dbf.
  2. Select the folder and the file name using the standard file saving dialog. The dialog button is located to the right of the file name field. By default, the dialog also uses the folder containing the source file and the file name composed according to the rule described in the previous paragraph.
  3. Select the file name from the dropdown list of the input field. DBF Recovery Toolbox saves the information about previously used files in its settings and allows you to reuse these file names and paths for future recoveries.

Once the path and the file name have been specified, press the Save button located in the lower part of the program window.

If the folder specified in the Repaired file name (.dbf): folder doesn't exist, the program will show the Directory does not exist notification. The file will not be saved and the program will stay at the file selection stage.

If the specified file already exists, the program will ask your permission to overwrite the file: Do you want to rewrite the existing file? If you press No, the program will also stay at the file selection stage. If you press Yes or if the file doesn't exist yet, DBF Recovery Toolbox will proceed to the revision of the recovery results.

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4. - Selection of the format of the output file

Figure 4.

DBF Recovery Toolbox can save any information read from the source file in any PDF format: dBase III-IV, FoxPro 3.x (or later). However, don't forget that saving your documents in earlier formats may result in the loss or corruption of certain data that are incompatible with the selected file format.

You can choose the format of the output file using the Select output DBF file version: field with a dropdown list.

When the file format selection window is opened, the program automatically suggests saving the document in the same version of the DBF format the original file had. If the source file was damaged extensively and the program fails to detect its version, it will suggest saving the file in the latest available version of the format.

Once you have chosen the format of the output file, press the Save file button in the lower part of the program window to proceed to the recovery stage.

If necessary, you can go back to the file selection page using the Back button.

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5. - Revision of the Recovery log

Figure 5.

At this stage, the program displays detailed information about the files recovered during this session in the main working area of the window. The following information is shown to the user:

  • The name of the recovered file and its path;
  • The name of the output file and its path;
  • The number of recovered records;
  • The total time the program spent to recover the dbf table file.

Once you have finished viewing the results, you can use the Back button located in the lower part of the program window to go back and change any of the previously specified parameters (e.g. to save the recovered file under an alternative file name, choose another file to recover, etc).

If you don't need to use the program anymore, you can click the Finish button or simply close the program window.

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