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unable to open pdf

Posted on 2013-10-30
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Last Modified: 2013-12-31
My customer has recently encountered a problem when trying to open most of their pdfs that they have been referencing for years on their pc.  Reader has a popup box that says "Adobe Reader could not open 'file.pdf' because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an email attachment and wasn't correctly decoded

I have tried various programs to recover/restore/repair them, they all say the files aren't PDF files.  I have not paid for any recovery programs but would be willing to if they can demonstrate they can fix the problem first.

Thanks
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Question by:RichardWalsh
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9 Comments
 
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Accepted Solution

by:
Christopher Gay earned 500 total points
ID: 39611958
Hello,

I have had similar issues to that with pdf files that were encoded in extremely older versions of Adobe or other pdf software. I have used a program called PDF ReDirect to import the file and then save again as a new version of pdf.

Also, you might have your customer completely remove all Adobe software from their machine and then do a clean installation. If the problem is more along the lines of a corrupted Adobe file this could solve the problem for you.

Regards,
Chris
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39611984
Hi Richard,
To be sure it's not an Adobe Reader issue, I suggest trying to open them in another PDF reader/viewer. Here are three excellent (FREE!) ones to try:

(1) Foxit Reader:
http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/

(2) PDF-XChange Viewer:
http://www.tracker-software.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer/download/

There are numerous products on that page...be sure to pick PDF-XChange Viewer, which has a free version (there is also a non-free Pro version).

(3) Nitro Reader:
http://www.nitroreader.com/

If even one of these three products fails to open the files, then my opinion is that the files have been corrupted.

Btw, what programs have you tried to recover/restore/repair them? The fact that they say the files aren't PDFs is another indicator that the files are corrupted.

I suppose it's silly to ask (or you wouldn't be here), but I'll ask anyway – are there backups of these files anywhere? Since they're files that the customer has been referencing for years, it's possible that they exist somewhere else...maybe even unintentionally, such as sitting on an old PC that has been mothballed...or an external USB drive or NAS or cloud storage that was used as a transfer mechanism to a new machine...somewhere?!

I've never used any PDF repair tools, so I can't help you with personal experience. I'm sure you Googled "pdf repair" and got plenty of hits, but those would be a shot in the dark for me. Perhaps an expert with real-life experience with such tools will jump in.

Going forward, I'm guessing your customer will be open to suggestions on backups. :)   Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:RichardWalsh
ID: 39612030
Hi Chris
I have taken a copy of some of the PDFs and will try on an old pc in our office.  Will try uninstalling and reinstalling adobe there.  Will report back tomorrow
Thanks Richard
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Author Comment

by:RichardWalsh
ID: 39612073
Hi joe
I did try various PDF readers and they imply the file is corrupted.  One of them was foxit.  
And no, surprise surprise, no backup!  I have offered a backup and check service on many occasions.  
I will give the PDF-xchange later and let you know the results.
Thanks
Richard
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39612131
Richard,

Yep...surprise, surprise! :)

Can't hurt to try PDF-XChange Viewer (I think it's the best of the bunch), but if Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader can't open them, it's almost surely the files themselves that are the problem. Btw, you said that you've tried various programs to recover/restore/repair the PDF files – I'm curious which programs? Regards, Joe
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Author Closing Comment

by:RichardWalsh
ID: 39680028
The customer is going to do a completely clean install, Thanks very much
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39681144
Richard,
You're welcome, but one thing I don't understand. If Foxit Reader and PDF-XChange Viewer can't open the PDFs, I don't see how a clean install (presumably of Adobe software) would solve the problem. Can you confirm for us that the customer can open those files after an Adobe reinstall? Thanks, Joe
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39707755
Hi Richard,
Still curious – can the customer open those files after an Adobe reinstall? Thanks, Joe
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 39748796
Hi Richard,
I'm hoping the third time is a charm – can the customer open those files after an Adobe reinstall? Thanks, Joe
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