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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Applications > Thank you Microsoft - my data is lost now

Thank you Microsoft - my data is lost now
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JohnCoffee
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Sep 8, 2004, 01:56 AM
 
Thanks to Microsoft - I today lost all of my email and attachment of the last 3 years - due to a 2GB file size limitation of the so called *.pst file in Outlook 2001.

Tried to recover it by transferring it to a PC and do the 2GB file crop using a Microsoft support program. This didn't work, my file seems to be currupt - the crop tools doesn't accept my .pst file.

http://support.microsoft.com/default...;en-us;303652&

"When you add more than 2 GB of data to a .pst file using either Outlook 2001 for Mac or the Microsoft Windows version of Outlook, the .pst file can become unstable or unusable. You can partially recover the data in the .pst file with the PST/OST Crop tool. This tool only runs on a Microsoft Windows computer. "

Ain't that nice?

take care you guys out there still have to rely on Outlook 2001 since Entourage just doesn't do the job.....

John
     
jessejlt
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Sep 8, 2004, 03:34 AM
 
Ya, that sucks, but I don't blame M$. I blame you for not having a backup. I mean 3 years and no backup! That's just asking for trouble.
     
albook
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Sep 8, 2004, 05:04 AM
 
Originally posted by jessejlt:
Ya, that sucks, but I don't blame M$. I blame you for not having a backup. I mean 3 years and no backup! That's just asking for trouble.
I totally agree!
Not backing up important mails for 3 years is just crazy.
     
Ω
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Sep 8, 2004, 06:02 AM
 
Not to rain on the "you are an idiot for not backing the files up" parade, but the way I read this is that it would not have made a difference anyway.

A backup of something that is corrupted will only give you a corrupted result, when you try and restore it.

Now if you were aware of this flaw in M$, which from how I read it you were not, then that is another matter.....
     
cpac
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Sep 8, 2004, 08:56 AM
 
Originally posted by _?_:
A backup of something that is corrupted will only give you a corrupted result, when you try and restore it.
Yes - but if he had a back up from before he reached the 2GB limit, he'd be fine. The posters were referring to regular (say monthly, or in this user's case, even *yearly*) back-ups.
cpac
     
Turnpike
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Sep 8, 2004, 09:07 AM
 
Well, if he had been backing up regularly, he could go to a version before it was corrupted. Although I don't think he ever specified that this was IMPORTANT stuff. I don't back up email from friends and family, because I doubt I will actually need it (or probably go through it, unless I'm really, really, ridiculously bored). Still, if I lost it because of a problem in an app, I'd be upset...


I'm not familiar with a .pst file, but it sounds like trouble. The registry worked out so well that MS decided to put everything in as few files as possible, and load those files up as far as they'd go?

and 2GB file crop? sounds like trouble again...



From now on, you should export everything to as simple a format as you can manage... plain text if possible. Then, once a month, turn it into a .tar.bz2 for archival purposes.







just noticed cpac beat me to part of it... congrats :-P
     
Maflynn
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Sep 8, 2004, 09:10 AM
 
I know what you mean, I now back up everything. you get burned once then you learn.

Even though its a bogus bug from M$, they are not fully cuplable, as the others have stated backups should be an important task in every computer user's habit. I know that doesn't help now

Mike
     
C.J. Moof
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Sep 8, 2004, 10:05 AM
 
Actually, making more robust and fault tolerant systems should be an important task in every programmer and system developer's habit. But since it's not, it's up to end users to cover their rears and expect their systems to crap on them from time to time.
OS X: Where software installation doesn't require wizards with shields.
     
Person Man
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Sep 8, 2004, 12:51 PM
 
Originally posted by C.J. Moof:
Actually, making more robust and fault tolerant systems should be an important task in every programmer and system developer's habit. But since it's not, it's up to end users to cover their rears and expect their systems to crap on them from time to time.
And even then I would still backup, because you know there is NO such thing as 100% fault tolerant software (even if there were, there are enough random events, like hard drive crash, power outage during disk access, lightning strikes, natural disaster, etc. that you would STILL need to back things up).
     
CatOne
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Sep 8, 2004, 03:55 PM
 
Originally posted by JohnCoffee:
Thanks to Microsoft - I today lost all of my email and attachment of the last 3 years - due to a 2GB file size limitation of the so called *.pst file in Outlook 2001.

Tried to recover it by transferring it to a PC and do the 2GB file crop using a Microsoft support program. This didn't work, my file seems to be currupt - the crop tools doesn't accept my .pst file.

http://support.microsoft.com/default...;en-us;303652&

"When you add more than 2 GB of data to a .pst file using either Outlook 2001 for Mac or the Microsoft Windows version of Outlook, the .pst file can become unstable or unusable. You can partially recover the data in the .pst file with the PST/OST Crop tool. This tool only runs on a Microsoft Windows computer. "

Ain't that nice?

take care you guys out there still have to rely on Outlook 2001 since Entourage just doesn't do the job.....

John
So this limitation has been known about for YEARS. And it's been fixed in Entourage for a couple years.

But, during this time, you had NO backups? C'mon, come out from under that rock. It's sunny out here!

I place the blame here like 5% on Microsoft implementation and 95% on user negligence -- it's really not that hard to maintain backups.
     
qyn
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Sep 9, 2004, 07:36 AM
 
That's a horrible bug, and I don't know why we're in this "you should backup" dogpile.

Sure, a backup would have been appropriate. But a bug like this is completely unacceptable, IMHO.

Make too much data and you'll lose it all? Sounds great! Let's just note it on the website and not release a patch! If they get bit, well heck, they can just use their backup! Rock on!
     
Gee4orce
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Sep 9, 2004, 09:10 AM
 
Try importing your email into Mail... you never know, it might work, and you'll get a nicer email program to boot !
     
jreades
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Sep 9, 2004, 11:33 AM
 
The 2GB limit is a product of a 32-bit address space, unless I miss my guess. It's the same as goes for RAM (think G5 64-bit addressing vs. G4 32-bit addressing in memory) and so is not specifically an MS problem. There's a *high* probability that *any* file excedding 2GB in size will become unstable on older systems.

Of course, not to warn you about this condition ("Hi, this is {application}, I just though you'd like to know that I'm approaching a file size limit and you should a) back up now, and b) split this file into a couple of new files") is rather irritating.

In terms of recovery, you have a couple of options:

1. Do you *have* an old backup *anywhere*? This way you won't lose everything and can consider yourself well-educated on the value of backups before moving on to '2'.

2. Is the .pst file a text-only file or is it binary? Try pulling up the Terminal and running `head -10 foo.pst` (minus the backtics and where 'foo' is the name of the PST file). If you can read what's being shown then there's a good chance that you can recover data from it. If it says "This is a binary file, are you sure you want to continue?" then I'm afraid that your life just got a lot uglier.

FWIW, most email apps store their data in plain-text or some form of delimitted plain-text/encoded-attachment format that *is* recoverable. The other day I was able to extract some important information from old Mozilla dirs simply by grepping for the lines that I needed.

3. If the PSD is text-only then you may be able to extract the data into a number of distinct files that can be reimported manually. If you can do it, I'd suggest creating multiple accounts, each of which contains *some* of your email.

To do this you're going to need to use an iterative approach (reading in and printing out a line at a time) since I doubt that any of the normal tools on a G4 can handle the file as-is (and you won't have the RAM to do it anyway). I'd suggest doing some exploration of the file format first...

my-mac% head -1000 foo.pst > first_1000_lines.txt
my-mac% tail -1000 foo.pst > last_1000_lines.txt

The second command may take a *long* time to complete since it has to move through the previous 1.99999GB first.

Of course, this is MS so I can't vouch for how things are set up, but I've also been able to do some sneaky things in Thunderbird and Mozilla Mail whereby I created dummy accounts and then spliced in the email data from another using Perl. When I restarted Thunderbird/Mozilla it took a while to reindex the spliced directories and create the summary file but had no apparent issues with what I'd done.

4. If your own computer refuses to even work with the file, try moving it to a G5 or a 64-bit Windows machine and taking the same approach there.

5. Set up and use something like rsyncbackup.

Good luck,

jon
     
CatOne
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Sep 9, 2004, 12:36 PM
 
Originally posted by qyn:
That's a horrible bug, and I don't know why we're in this "you should backup" dogpile.

Sure, a backup would have been appropriate. But a bug like this is completely unacceptable, IMHO.

Make too much data and you'll lose it all? Sounds great! Let's just note it on the website and not release a patch! If they get bit, well heck, they can just use their backup! Rock on!
Hey if someone stores email for 3 years and doesn't have a single backup and they lose it all... I sorta laugh at it. It's a rough way to learn a lesson, but the fact that they could go for 3 years without ever thinking of backing up anything... LOL.
     
Sarc
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Sep 9, 2004, 02:16 PM
 
correct me if wrong, but didn't Mac OS 9 have a 2gig file limitation somewhere ?
:: frankenstein / lcd-less TiBook / 1GHz / radeon 9000 64MB / 1GB RAM / w/ext. 250GB fw drive / noname usb bluetooth dongle / d-link usb 2.0 pcmcia card / X.5.8
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C.J. Moof
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Sep 9, 2004, 05:56 PM
 
For a single file, it did. That's why iMovie would split a DV capture into multiple files.

I'm with qyn- this is completely unacceptable. The fact that the majority of the posters in this thread have the "well, if there was a backup, this wouldn't be a problem" attitude indicates why so much software still sucks- people are willing to accept giant bugs, and when the system craps on them, blame the user, instead of the faulty technology that behaved unacceptably.
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Maflynn
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Sep 9, 2004, 08:07 PM
 
Originally posted by C.J. Moof:
For a single file, it did.
...
I'm with qyn- this is completely unacceptable.
Oh come on now the OP was using Outlook 2001, he probably be ok if he used up todate software. I like to get MS' case but in this case you can't really fault them for not updating a discontinued application.

Stuff happens, and if you don't back up you lose your data. If you don't update and you don't backup then there's really nothing you can do or say. Its his business as to why he stayed on outlook 2001 (probably exchange compatability) but the bottom line is he has to be responsible for his own data.

Mike
     
l008com
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Sep 9, 2004, 08:53 PM
 
I blame the original poster. Not because he didn't back up, but because he used M$ software in the first place. That is what he should have known better not to do.
     
C.J. Moof
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Sep 9, 2004, 09:38 PM
 
Originally posted by Maflynn:
Oh come on now the OP was using Outlook 2001, he probably be ok if he used up todate software. I like to get MS' case but in this case you can't really fault them for not updating a discontinued application.
So using up to date software will probably make you safe from data loss? At one time Outlook 2001 was up to date, and was just as subject to nuking it's email history as it is now.

Stuff happens, and if you don't back up you lose your data. If you don't update and you don't backup then there's really nothing you can do or say. Its his business as to why he stayed on outlook 2001 (probably exchange compatability) but the bottom line is he has to be responsible for his own data.

Mike
Stuff does happen. I accept it when stuff is fires, burst water pipes, hurricanes, even harddrives dying. I don't accept it when stuff is crummy programming. A 2 gig file limitation on a 32bit addressing system shouldn't have been a surprise, but MS choose not to address the situation.

There are 2 problems in this story. First is MS programming, second is his failure to cover his own rear.
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voodoo
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Sep 11, 2004, 12:04 PM
 
Originally posted by l008com:
I blame the original poster. Not because he didn't back up, but because he used M$ software in the first place. That is what he should have known better not to do.
U bet
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ghporter
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Sep 11, 2004, 10:05 PM
 
My take on this:

Huge .pst file (I have several years of business email in mine, and I'm not over what would fit on a 700MB CD-R), and no backups (I know how big my work .pst file is because I back it up from time to time) is inviting problems. OS X will occasionally cough badly enough to require closing an open program, and it'll warn you that you're going to lose any unsaved data, so it's not something that's unknown to us Mac users. It's just that the OP set himself up for a major problem.

Sorry, really I am. But that's the way the ball bounces when you don't cover yourself by backing up.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
one09jason
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Sep 11, 2004, 11:58 PM
 
MS may not be at fault for this person not having backed up their data. But they are 100% at fault for writing crap software full of bugs, of which, this one is just another fine example. Bugs, by the way, that they rarely fix because... wait for it... we keep buying the software anyway, version after buggy version. What to do? Live and learn. Vote with your wallet. Stop giving MS money.

On that note, I have used OSX Mail for years and think it's a terrific app, even for heavy email users like myself. An awesome replacement for Word is Mellel (www.redlers.com). Still looking for a good replacement for Excel (which, by the way, is the best of the MS office apps on the mac but is still crashy and full of bugs).

Cheers, and best of luck.
     
Shades of Gray
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Sep 13, 2004, 03:08 PM
 
This is also a problem on the Windows side for Outlook 2002. I make it a habit to never go over 1 GB of email, without backing up to personal folders on the server. I have never had a problem with Outlook 2002. Of course, those who never pay attention to limits have periodically run into major problems here at work.

And yes, while I have Office 2004, I am tending to do most of my writing on Mellel. It just works.
Ignore the argumentative nature of this poster. He is old and can't engage in meaningful dialog
very long. Therefore, management asks that you at least humor him. Thanks.
     
bmedina
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Sep 13, 2004, 08:55 PM
 
Personally, I would take it as a sign that I'm keeping too much email.
     
   
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