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How Does Database Corruption Happen?

A corrupt database is a database that has lost some of its data or functionality. Seeing a corruption message is extremely concerning, especially if you don’t backup your files often. Fortunately, there are many ways to repair a database without losing valuable information. Once your database is repaired, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect this from happening again.

Let’s learn more about how database corruption occurs and what you can do to protect your data and information.

Hardware Failure 

Most causes of database corruption are related to hardware failure. A computer stores everything on its hard disk drive. If this drive fails or crashes for any reason, everything on the disk becomes inaccessible. Some of the most common causes for hardware failure include computer viruses, abrupt system shutdowns, internal bugs and human error.

Software Problems

Sometimes, the problem lies within the software itself. If you have a corrupted SQL database, there could be a problem with SQL server or changes in the server account. Viruses and malware can also affect the SQL database. However, it’s usually corruption in the MDF files (primary database files) that is the problem. Manually repairing the database is possible, but if these don’t work, you’ll need a database repair expert like Arkware.

Poor Database Design 

It’s also possible to experience database corruption when your database has a poor design. If you’re having trouble with your database, consider who built it for you. If it wasn’t a database expert like Arkware, it’s possible it has issues like:

  • Little to no normalization

  • Improper selection of primary keys

  • No domains or naming standards

  • Poor or missing documentation

  • Improper storage or reference data

Human Errors 

The more users you have on your database, the more opportunities there are for corruption. Some of the most common sources of human error corruption are accidental data deletion, storing the SQL database in a compressed folder, upgrading software from an older to newer version or adding invalid data. Not installing the proper updates can also cause problems.

Arkware Can Help with Your Database Challenges 

If your database is corrupted, contact Arkware for a consultation. We can determine the reason for the corruption and the best ways to repair your database. We can also talk about a more reliable backup strategy and perhaps a new database that is built to your company’s needs and budget. Contact us today to learn more about repairing your corrupted database.

 

Poor Practices in Database Design

A program like Microsoft Access makes it easy to build a database that is fast and optimized. You can choose from the available templates or create your own. If you use a template, all you need to do is plug in your information and voila! If your needs are more complex, you can hire a database expert like Arwkare to build a personalized database. 

However what happens when you’ve already paid someone to build your database and they didn’t do an adequate job? Unfortunately, this happens. If your database isn’t running as well as it should, it’s possible that it has a poor design with one or more of these practices. 

Poor Normalization 

Database normalization is the process of structuring a database to avoid redundant or duplicate information. Unfortunately, some databases are designed on the fly without following the rules of normalization. 

At the very least, all databases should be normalized to third normal form. With this setup, each column of a table will be dependent on the primary identifier. If your database doesn’t comply with first, second or third normal form, consider redesigning these tables. We promise – it will pay off in the long run! 

Improper Naming 

We’re not going to get into the details on how to best name things as this is a topic in itself. What we want to stress is the need for consistency. The names you choose for your database are not just for identifying objects but also to allow future programmers, users, etc. to quickly and easily understand your database. In other words, no one should have to read an exhaustive manual to find out what a name means.

Lack of Documentation 

When you carefully name your objects, columns and so forth, it makes it clear to everyone what your database is modeling. Follow a consistent naming standard as well as definitions on tables, columns, relationships and default and check constraints. Poor design tends to have a lack of documentation, and this makes it difficult for users to understand your database. 

Not Using Stored Procedures 

Stored procedures refer to SQL code that is saved to be used over and over again. While procedures might take a bit more effort at first, they’re worth it in the long run. Stored procedures offer the following advantages: 

  • Quick response times because the procedures are created and stored 
  • Option to group all the required SQL statements in a procedure and execute them at once
  • Avoid repetition of code 
  • Use additional SQL functionalities 
  • Use the code in any number of applications 

Lack of Testing 

When it comes to testing, we recommend having a strict testing plan in place. This plan should go through every part of the development process to identify bugs and diagnose and fix problems that would otherwise lead to corruption. Good databases are frequently tested and end up running optimally because of it. 

The best way to ensure a functional, efficient database design is by working with the right team of database development experts. Arkware has decades of experience building, repairing and optimizing databases and we always follow the best practices. Contact us today to discuss your database needs. 

 

How to Repair a Corrupted Access Database

Is your Microsoft Access database giving you problems? If your database has become corrupt, is having trouble opening or is prone to errors, rest assured that there are ways to get back on track with an efficient, reliable database. 

The Arkware team has extensive experience recovering MS Access databases. We’ve recovered many databases for our customers and can likely do the same for you! We have some tips to help you recover your database on your own, but if you’re unsuccessful, give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist. 

What Causes Database Corruption? 

Despite all of the advantages to Microsoft Access, it’s not uncommon for databases to become corrupted. This means that you could lose or damage data at any point in time. The most common causes of lost or damaged database files are: 

  • Hardware failure 
  • Improper shutdown 
  • Virus infection 
  • Interruption in changing data 
  • Third-party plugins
  • Software bugs 

Ways to Fix a Corrupted Database

Digital assets can get corrupted over time, so there are a number of ways to deal with this headache. It’s important to know your options because you can’t use just any tools. It all depends on the reason for the corruption, if you have a backup saved and how comfortable you are at recovery. 

Here are some of the most common ways to repair a corrupted Access database: 

  • Access your backups. The best way to secure yourself against database loss is to create a backup copy. This way, you can restore all of your lost data in one simple step. To do this, open your database, go to the File tab, hit Save As and choose Save Database As >> Backup Database >> Save As.
  • Compact and repair tool. You can also use the Compact and Repair tool to compress your database and restore damaged files. Go to the File tab and choose Compact Repair Database. This is a built-in feature of Access. 
  • Use a professional tool. You can also try a professional tool to repair a corrupt database. Many companies offer them, though not all are created equal. And, because you have to pay for these tools, you don’t want to invest in something that doesn’t work. Contact Arkware for a list of approved tools to help with database repair. 

If your database isn’t working the way it should, it’s possible that it’s corrupted and needs to be repaired. These tools are effective, but it helps to know what’s wrong with your database in the first place. To have your database analyzed and repaired, contact Arkware today. 

 

Building A Microsoft Access Database

Where do I Start?

A general rule for creating a database (or a database feature) is to envision the minimum solution needed to satisfy the goal.   Keeping it simple applies especially to beginners.   If you want to build a system for Tracking Sales Leads, don’t add in building a Customer Service database or Billing System at the same time.   Then, once your new application is working well, you can add new features and integrate other business aspects into the design.   

Before you start, it is good practice to plan out your development so you can always envision your goals and avoid unnecessary hurdles.    Getting your team members involved will also help to define the project as well as increase buy-in to use of a new system.  

MS Access database designs should always begin with some simple concepts related to your organization:

1. Define the Goals

What challenge(s) will the database resolve? 

  • How will the organization benefit?   i.e., streamlining process, enforcing strict paths of work, single source recordkeeping
  • How will the users benefit?   i.e., organized data, quicker retrieval of data, less redundant data entry
  • How will the customers benefit? i.e., comprehensive/consistent reporting, faster customer service, better tracking of history

2. Define the Workflows on Paper

  • Write down the steps necessary in your ideal workflow.  For example, in a system for Tracking Sales Leads, write down the full list of the ideal steps from a sales lead all the way through to closing a sale.  There may be exceptions to the ideal path that need to be addressed.  It is often a good idea to address these exceptions once the new system is proven to work well for a majority of the cases. 

3. Design Tables and Data Fields on paper

  • Tables are the building blocks of the database and should include all the data you are hoping to manage in your new system.  Typically, all the data points that are included in your forms and reports will be represented in a field within a table.  In a Sales Lead Tracking database, you might include tables and fields such as:
      1. Organization – Including Organization Name, Address, Address2, City, State, Zip, Phone, etc.
      2. Contact – Including First Name, Last Name, Phone, Email, etc.
      3. Lead Source – Including Source Name, etc.
      4. Lead Status – Including Status, etc.
      5. Lead Details – Date of Lead, Product or Service of Interest, Notes, etc.
      6. Team Member – Initials, First Name, Last Name, etc.

4. Design Forms and Reports on Paper

  • Your forms and reports are going to be your gateways to putting data into the system, managing the data that is in the system and pulling data out of the system.  Gather all the applicable forms and reports that you already use or sketch up the ones you will need.  Ensure that all your essential data is captured on these documents.

In our next article, we will discuss how to create your tables in MS Access.

 

 

How to Compact Your Database So it Runs Faster

As time goes by, it’s only natural that your database file is going to grow larger and larger. Some people assume that by deleting information, their database will shrink down, but it doesn’t work this way. Access doesn’t just remove the space once occupied by your queries and records. That space still remains in the database, which can leave it much larger than it needs to be. 

The problem with large databases is that they don’t perform as well as smaller ones. They take longer to load, and you want your queries and reports to run as fast as possible. Also, if the database is not regularly compacted, it’s more likely to be corrupted. Fortunately, it’s easy to compact your database so that it runs more efficiently. 

Introducing the Compact and Repair Command

The Compact and Repair Command removes excess from your database. Ideally, you should use this tool once a week or after making design changes. Here’s how to use this tool: 

  • Open the database and click Database Tools on the Ribbon.
  • Click the Compact and Repair Database button from the Tools group. 

Using this tool, you’ll see a status bar that lets you know how the compact process is progressing. When the progress bar is gone, this means the compact process is complete. In return, you get a much neater, faster and stable database file. If you’ve split your database, keep in mind you’ll have to compact both the front- and back-ends of the database. 

What if You Want to Compact Your Database Automatically? 

If you prefer to compact your database every time you close it, there is a way to do this. Some people like this option because the work is done for them automatically. Here are the steps to follow to set up this feature: 

  • Click the File tab on the Ribbon.
  • Click the Access Options button in the menu bar. 
  • Click Current Database from the list.
  • Check the Compact on Close box.
  • Click OK to save the changes.

One word of caution. When using Compact on Close, it’s for the front-end file only. Do not use Compact on Close on the back-end file because it can cause corruption if another user is working on the back-end at the same time. 

Still Having Trouble? Contact Arkware 

Compacting your database is how you get rid of the allotted space that your records and queries once took up. It’s important to compact your files often as this allows your database to run efficiently and reduces the risk for corruption. If your database is still running slow, contact Arkware for a more thorough look at your database. 

 

How Your Small Business Can Benefit from Cloud Computing

There are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., and without a doubt, they are the backbone of our economy. These businesses provide job opportunities and facilitate growth and innovation. However, small companies must be creative with their resources, as they don’t have the same financial cushion as their larger counterparts. 

One of the most difficult decisions that small businesses have to make is what technology to use. Some technologies aren’t necessary but others are. And cloud computing is one of them. If your business is considering migrating to the cloud, there are many benefits to consider. 

What is Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is the delivery of various services through the internet. It’s a great way for small businesses to rent computing power, reduce costs and increase productivity. 

Some companies have moved everything to the cloud, while others follow a hybrid approach that combines both a local server and cloud computing. Dedicated servers refer to physical hardware that serves only your company, while cloud servers are located in a third-party data center. 

What are the Advantages of Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is a major shift from how businesses traditionally think about IT resources. Here are the main benefits of adopting cloud computing like Microsoft Azure into your business. 

  • Reduced cost. Cloud computing eliminates the expense of buying hardware and software programs, running data centers, paying IT experts for managing infrastructure and more. Instead, everything is outsourced to the third-party data center.
  • Greater efficiency. Most cloud computing services are on demand, so the resources you need can be supplied when you need them. This gives your business the flexibility it needs. 
  • Enhanced productivity. Rather than having your IT staff deal with software patching, hardware setup and more, they can spend their time achieving more important business goals. 
  • Stronger security. Many cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure, offer a broad range of policies, technologies and controls that will make your business more secure. All data is maintained at a central location, which is better than having it spread across many devices. 
  • Improved reliability. Cloud computing makes everything easier – data backups, disaster recovery, business continuity and more. And, if your business grows and you need additional IT hardware, it’s quick and easy to scale up your cloud solution. 

Microsoft Azure and Cloud Computing 

Migrating to the cloud is a big decision, but it’s something worth considering for your small business. You don’t have to move everything to the cloud – you may find it best to follow a hybrid approach. To learn more about Microsoft Azure and how it can benefit your business, contact Arkware today.