FileMaker File Recovery

From Dwayne Wright - Certified FileMaker 9 Developer
TWITTER: dwaynewright

As with any computer file, a FileMaker Pro file can be damaged. In most cases, FileMaker can fix minor damage on the fly and you do not need to get directly involved. If a damaged file is determined by FileMaker to need recovery, it will tell you so when you try to open it. In a recovery operation, FileMaker will attempt to save as much of the file structure and enclosed data as it can. It will not try to fix the file itself but will create a new copy of the file during the recovery process. So after a successful recovery is completed, you will have two files ...

the damaged version - that you might want to archive if the recovered file shows problems

the recovered version - that will normally be named the same as the original file with the word Recovered afterwards (clients RECOVERED, timecard RECOVERED, etc..).

After you have the recovered file, you might want to use a backup instead or you might not. The thing is, FileMaker focuses on the data inside of a damaged file first and the structure of the file might still have problems or has new problems created during the aggressive data recovery operations.

So a common recommendation among senior developers is to take the recovered data out of the recovered file and place it within a clone backup from before the problems occurred. This way you have the best chance of good data inside of a good FileMaker file.

Now when you have a FileMaker file that has 30 or more tables, reimporting all the data can be a real chore and perhaps your users cannot wait. About those senior developers I mentioned earlier, on the other side of the room are a different group of senior developers that say they use recovered files all the time (without problem). So there is some debate on what the best practice is for recovered files and you need to find a method that makes you the most comfortable.

Personally, I tend to try to use a recovered file when I can but I’m always prepared to import its data into a backup clone if necessary.

More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright -

The material on this document is offered AS IS. There is NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, expressed or implied, nor does any other contributor to this document. WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. Consequential and incidental damages are expressly excluded. FileMaker Pro is the registered trademark of FileMaker Inc.