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What to do about messages about corrupt tables in Microsoft word - can't create and save tables

Posted on 2008-10-28
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I am receiving message that I can't create or save tables in ms Word 2003.  Many different messages. Intermittent problem but I can't count on any of my work taking hold.  File attached shows several of the messages. This a a computer running Windows XP and it's on a home network with a MacBook and an HP J4680 Al-One Network printer.  Previously I have encountered messages saying I couldn't open certain old files because they were too old a format.  HOping the attached file will cause someone to recognize what's going on. My virus protection hasn't found anything.  Unfortunately the error is intermittent. I just tried to make it happen to a file so I could try saving it to a flash drive instead of my hard drive but now the error isn't appearing. I'm sure it will be back though.  any guidance would be appreciated. I'm afraid to back up my drive. I do have one new piece of software:  ReadIris Pro 1. Don't know if that is related.
Error-messages-related-to-saves-.doc
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Question by:gvena
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Expert Comment

by:Joanne M. Orzech
ID: 22833892
The first thing I'd do is search for all instances of normal.dot on your hard drive and delete them.

Secondly, go to File, Open, in the dropdown box at the bottom, go to Recover Text from any File, browse to one of your problem documents, and click OK.

You may have some reformatting to do but better than losing the whole document....
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Expert Comment

by:dopyiii
ID: 22834077
Were these documents on a network share? Looks like a problem with Word and its temp files. ~wrl... files are temp files that holds the changes that you're actively making in the document (see http://howtotroubleshoot.blogspot.com/2008/08/words-temp-files.html). If it's on a share, make sure you have the modify permissions set for all users. If you're on a thumb drive, make sure that you do the whole "Safely remove hardware" voodoo dance before unplugging it.

Other than that, I'd look over step 2 of this article:
http://howtotroubleshoot.blogspot.com/2006/03/damaged-document-troubleshooting.html

If it's really a corrupt document and not an OS issue, then should identify and attempt to repair the problems in a problematic document.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22834240
thanks to JOrzech and dopyiii.  I will explore these solutions over the next day or two and report back.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22834300
JOrzech, jow do I check the modify permissions set on my pc (runnning XP pro) ? Thanks.
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by:dopyiii
ID: 22834420
Permissions:
1. Right-click the folder the documents are in
2. Properties
3. Security tab
4. Click on your profile name (or Users; depends on your setup)
5. See if the permissions boxes have the Modify permission checked.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22834526
Oops, I addressed that question to the wrong person.Thanks!  I'll try this. I did delete the normal.dot files.
My permissions area was a little different.  No security tab. But I found Sharing and I have permissions set to allow everyone to modify files.  but I'm assuming that this doesn't bypass my wep key security, right?  I mean, someone couldn't sit on my front steps and get into my computer files, could they?
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by:dopyiii
ID: 22834839
No problem. Okay, you're using simple file sharing, so this probably isn't the issue.

Are all of these documents old documents? Have you gotten it to happen in any new ones?
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22835177
It started with old documents, but then I found I couldn't create new tables - well I could create them, butwhen I tried to save them I would get one or a series of the messages that I included in the  attachment that I included with my post.  When this happens, I often (always?) find that a "~temp" file has suddenly appeared as the file name.
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by:dopyiii
ID: 22835362
Yes, Word uses a lot of temp files; that's normal (and sometimes scary). Are you talking about creating new tables in new documents, or new tables in existing documents?
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22835499
The first time this happened it was when I copied a table out of an existing document, modified it, and attempted to save it as a new document.  Yesterday it happened in a completely new document.  Then when I tried to make it happen deliberately, by creating and modifying another new document, I was able to save at first but then got error messages when I modified it and tried to save. Along the way, I have received the following messages:
"A table in this documetn has become corrupted.  to recover the contents....."
"Word failed reading from this file (~WRL2426.tmp). Please restore the network connection or replace the floppy disk and retry" (not using a floppy disk)  "
and
"Word has lost data due to a bad network connection or missing floppy.  Documents relying on this data are going to be saved and then closed."
and
"Word experienced an error trying to open the file.  Try these suggestion:  Check the file permissions for the document or drive. Make sure there is sufficient memory and disk space . Open the file with the text recovery converter."
I can't remember whether I put those into my attachment or not.

Gail
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Expert Comment

by:dopyiii
ID: 22835672
Yeah, you had those in your attachment, I just wasn't sure of the timeline. Don't you just love intermittent errors? I'd approach this in two ways. First, it's either Word's fault, the document/data's fault, or the OS/addin's fault - no other options.

To eliminate Word, try opening Word in Word safe mode and see if you can reproduce the error (start > run > type winword /a and hit enter). If you can't get it to happen like that (after trying at least a couple of times), then Word may have some funky customization that's causing the problem. Have a look at this:
http://howtotroubleshoot.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-to-clean-word.html

To eliminate the document, we'd ordinarily try making new documents with new data. If that doesn't seem to have a problem, then I'd go after one document that you know has the problem. Starting doing the damaged document troubleshoot steps mentioned in the article above to see if you can find out what the problem is (I usually have a high level of success with step 5).

Finally, try Windows safe mode. If it happens there, then you know the OS (probably) isn't a player here. Another way to check is to try a different user profile. There's still an outside chance of something _really_ bad going on like the OLE components being corrupt or something like that, but you don't see that very often.

Make sense?
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22835787
I think so. I don't know how to open Word in safe mode, or Windows either for that matter (hold down the shift key?  tap F8 while starting?  these are things I have in distant memory).  I assume that if I do this Word cleanup I have to start all over again with my customization?  Will I have lost the special programs I've added to my toolbar over the years (like one that creates word lists?) I'm not even sure I know howI got them in the first place.  And how do I check a different user profile? I didn't know I could set up different user profiles.
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by:dopyiii
ID: 22835840
To start Word in safe mode, do this:
start > run > type winword /a and hit enter

You're on the right track for Windows (looks like you remember the good ol' days of holding shift on Win 9x!). Holding/tapping F8 should get you to the Windows boot screen. Most of your startup programs won't load in Windows safe mode, but that's also the point - eliminate the usual suspects. You just want in there long enough to see if the problem happens.

If you have administrative rights, then you can create a new profile in the User Accounts Control Panel. If you can get in, just create another administrator profile (you can delete it later). Then, log out as you, in as the other person and load up Word.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22837910
Thanks. Before I try all this, I'm going to try what I was doing when I began and see if it's still happening.  I'll check back when I know.

Gail
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22855840
I haven't tried the safe mode tricks yet because I've been really busy, but today I tried to save a word file with no table and got a message about permissions again and the file name was changed to a tmp file again.When I accepted "Try again" I was able to put in a new name and save. Then later, as I was closing Word, I got the attached message, which was new. Does this shed any new light on anything?  I had gotten rid of all the normal.dot files I found a few days ago, but this seemed to related to the global template.???
Word-error-10-31-08.jpg
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Expert Comment

by:dopyiii
ID: 22857967
Yeah, I'd go through that "how to clean word" article and see if you have any problems after that. It almost seems like you've got an addin that's causing a problem. Are you using any addins like Adobe PDF writer, or anything like that?
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22858606
Nothing new. And not Adobe PDF writer. the only new things I have are whatever came with my new HP All-in-one.  I will go through the How to clean Word article tomorrow and see what happens and get back to you.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22860505
So I started through the process of cleaning up Word. I got rid of the temp files. But when I got to the registry cleanout I wasn't able to finish.  I got to hKey_current-User>Software>Microsoft>Office>Word, but I didn't see the" Data and Options keys on the left"  (There was nothing on the left).  I couldn't find them.  any idea why that might be?

Thanks,
Gail
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Expert Comment

by:dopyiii
ID: 22862820
Ah, close, but the wrong key. Here's the complete path (note the 11.0):
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Word

Don't ask why they have two keys...

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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22863250
thanks.  back to the drawing board....
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22865225
Okay, I followed all the steps in the article, except I was unsure of one. Step 5 says to clean out the normal.dot template, but it was ambiguous whether I was supposed to get rid of all my templates or just normal.dot. . If I use one of my old templates, am I going to be back to the beginning of this mess?  And what about the file on which I first ran into trouble with the corrupt table?  

The first test file I created and saved I got a message saying Word was preparing a background save. What does that mean? Then I got a message saying that changes had been made to the normal template and did I want to save them. I said no. Was that right? I had restarted after doing the cleanup and before this message..

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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22865251
Good grief. the whole program is functioning strangely now. It's incredibly slow and closes without warning.  What if I were just to uninstall and reinstall Office. Would all my documents be safe?

Do you think that the fact that I recently upgraded to Office 2008 on the Mac with which I file share could be part of the problem?
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22865287
Now I can't open folders in Windows.  Things seem to be going from bad to worse.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22865357
When I go to My Documents and click on a folder, the folder does not get highlighted. Sometimes, after a long time, one of the folders will open anyway, and then the folders inside that will open faster.  All my work is in these folders.  I don't know what to do.
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22865493
Sorry for the slew of messages.  I was really concerned about being able to work tomorrow so I did a system restore. My Documents still not behaving normally.  Tomorrow I will continue to explore.
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Accepted Solution

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dopyiii earned 500 total points
ID: 22867422
Yes, certainly going from bad to worse! Let's start from the top. First, you can remove/rename/delete normal.dot and Word will create a new one. It can be affected (read: added to, changed, corrupted by) addins and tends to "collect dust" with normal usage. So, it's often a good idea to remove/rename/delete it when things start acting fishy.

Now, the first thing to check is Word safe mode again (start > run > type winword /a and hit enter). If Word works like that, then it's just a word customization and following all of that "how to clean word" article should resolve any problem that's avoided by using /a. If it still doesn't work in that mode, then clearly you've got something going on outside of Word.

From the sounds of things (with My Doc's acting funny, etc.), it sounds like a Windows issue to me. Did you ever try a new profile?

As far as the Mac 2008 thing, if you've been passing documents between 2008 (or in the Windows world, 2007) and previous versions, then it doesn't surprise me that you're seeing issues. Seems like a trend in corrupt documents due to version differences (and import filters).

And, it's probably a really good time to save all of your documents to a CD. It's always good to have a backup, even if Windows doesn't crash and burn.
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Author Closing Comment

by:gvena
ID: 31512809
Well, I did a defrag overnight and after this  and the system restore everything, including the windows problem, seems to be okay.  I have no idea whether this is coincidence or what, but I now have an arsenal to use if the problem rears its head again. I think I'll start by clearing out all my templates and starting fresh. Not such a big deal.  I do have my files backed up, but have been afraid to back them up again for the last few days for fear of backing up problems.  I really appreciate your sticking with me all the way through this. It was reassuring.
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Expert Comment

by:dopyiii
ID: 22869783
I'm glad the problem seems to be gone... at least for now :)
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Author Comment

by:gvena
ID: 22869990
Yes, I realize it's just for now!  But you know how it is - when it's working you don't want to think about it.

Thanks!
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