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Quick Guide to Handling Corruption in MDB Databases

There is no doubt that having to deal with a corrupt Access database can be a highly stressful experience. Knowing how to deal with corruption can make it easier when one actually comes across a MDB file that has been damaged. Here is our quick guide to handling corruption in Access databases.

By database corruption, we typically mean when an error is found in the binary file format of the particular Access database. A corrupt database will either prevent all attempts at opening and accessing it or if it does open, there will be inconsistent behavior. Since the Access database is made up of one powerful MDB file, corruption in the MDB file is not very uncommon.

However, using the in-built tools such as the Compact and Repair tool, Microsoft Access can typically fix almost all minor corruption issues that could arise when the table data are being read or written. However, it is not always possible to recover Access data because many times, Access fixes corruption issues during normal use of the database. This means that your database might have become corrupted and then repaired without you even being aware of it. However, if the corruption spreads and becomes worse, the standard tools are not sufficient to carry out an Access repair and there is a real danger that all the data contained in the database will be lost.

Faulty hardware and network equipment are some of the most common reasons for damage to the Access database. For example, a poor quality network card can lose packets during transmission and hard drives could have bad sectors, all leading to corruption in the database. It is good to regularly check all the networking equipment as well as troubleshoot the hardware so that these kinds of corruption problems are prevented and one does not have to carry out an entire restoration process to recover Access data.

Poorly designed software can not only cause problems while using Access but also lead to corruption. This is most often found in third-party plug-ins that are used to enhance the functionality of Access. If they have not been designed correctly, these plug-ins will crash very often also causing Access to crash, leading to corruption in the database. It is best to use only a minimal number of third-party software and to ensure that they are from trusted developers.

An Access database is designed such that there is multi-user access at the file level. However, it is known that this causes severe increase in the MDB file size and every time a large number of users try to access such a huge file, there is damage in the MDB file. The Compact and Repair tool might not be able to help recover Access from a large MDB file. However, specialized tools such as Advanced Access Repair can work wonders even with very large files, restoring data and records in the exact same structure as the original file.

Finally, it is best to split multi-user databases into a front-end that can be accessed by the users and a back-end that stores all the vital data. The front-end of course will store all the forms and reports necessary to access the database but will not allow any manipulation of data. This results in better network performance as well as reduces the risk of corruption in the actual data.

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