Today we’re going to discuss the health of your Entourage Identity. Even though we encourage multiple snapshots of your Entourage Identity as backup, it’s always best to identify corruption early when there are no signs.
Entourage can work with no apparent problems, but corruption can be lurking in your database. So how do you know if you’re backing up a database that has problems?
- Entourage’s Database Utility can be used to verify
- Exporting your data as an Entourage archive (.rge) file and
- Exporting as MBOX files can also show problems.
Using this three step process, we’re going to verify that your database is working correctly.
Step One: Use Entourage’s Database Utility to Verify
When you hold down the Option key when launching Entourage, the Database Utility will open and allow you to check the health of your database.
However, even if the Identity, verifies as OK, it is not always 100% accurate so we are going to verify using two more steps.
Step Two: Export as Entourage archive file
Another way to check for corruption is to use the Export as Entourage archive (.rge) file under File –> Export. If you can export using this method, this is a very positive indication that your data is good. If there is corruption, it will fail and give you nothing. Just this week I was testing export and categories and found that my database had problems. I had no indication there were problems.
Step Three: Continue testing by exporting as MBOX files
This third step in the verify process will give you added assurance that your database is working correctly. Export your folders as MBOX files. You can drag a folder to the desktop to create an MBOX file, but if you have a lot of folders and subfolders, this can get to be a bit tedious. I suggest downloading Jolly Roger’s script Archive Message Folders
- This script archives each folder in your Entourage folder list to a folder on your desktop named “Entourage Archives”.
- The script preserves the hierarchy of the folders, as they exist in the Entourage folders list, by creating sub-folders in the “Entourage Archives” folder that correspond to the sub-folders in Entourage.
- The exported MBOX files have the same name as the folders in Entourage, with the exception that forward slash characters (/) are replaced with dash characters (-) to avoid problems with the Mac OS X file system.
The script will fail on the folder with corruption. This allows you to identify the folder with corruption. Once you know where the corruption starts, you can try dragging the messages in this folder to the desktop. It’s possible you will be able to recover all or most of the messages. Next step is to try deleting the messages and/or the corrupt folder. If you can delete the folder try running the script again. It’s possible you have only one folder that’s corrupted, but there could be others.
Were all three steps successful?
If verifying your data using the three step method gives you three positive results, you have two different formats with your data and you can know your database is working correctly.
What if export fails?
Make a Backup Copy Now!
OK, you’ve discovered corruption. As long as you can open your database you have a good chance of recovering your data. Make a copy of your Identity in the Finder and work off a copy when you are trying to recover. You never know when Entourage is going to go belly up and refuse to open. You can always revert to a copy to continue your recovery efforts.
Rebuild your Identity
If export failed, then you will need to rebuild your database. Again let me stress, make a duplicate in the Finder first as additional backup. A rebuild does make a duplicate, but sometimes in the process the original and backup get merged resulting in total disaster. It’s rare but it happens.
How successful your rebuild will be is determinded by:
- Degree of corruption
- Size of free space on your hard drive
Previously, in Rebuilding a damaged database that exceeded size limit the article details how using a large drive (500GB) allowed a successfully rebuild of the corrupt database. Even though this article was specific to Entourage X, it applies to any rebuild. As a consultant I have successfully been able to recover damaged databases using this method. I keep a 500 GB drive especially for this purpose with only Leopard and Office X, 2004 and 2008 installed.
If rebuild fails, you will have to manually move into a new Identity. See this page for directions.
Signs of database corruption
- Problems viewing and opening items
- Big grey blank of about 3-4 lines in Inbox which if I click on it, freezes the screen and or makes Entourage close down
- Blank E-mails with no text
- Messages that won’t delete
- Crash and freeze when opening Entourage
These are some of the most common signs, but often obscure problems are a result of database corruption. Many times you can easily eliminate database corruption by creating a new Identity in Entourage and test your problem there. If the problem goes away most likely it’s database corruption. For more help troubleshooting your Identity see Troubleshooting Basics.