Invalid File Format

Just had a storm related power surge mid-project. Invalid file format message, even when I use Time Machine to find older files from yesterday. Preview successfuly displays all the information, but I cannot open any previous versions of this file.

Similarly the Auto-Save versions is corrupted as well.

Why would older restored files be likewise corrupted? ←← THIS IS THE REAL DILEMMA

Honestly, this is incredibly disheartening as I’ve lost several days of arduous work.
If possible, I would greatly appreciate being able to send the file to a Moderator here and see if perhaps Steinberg techs could restore it.

EDIT: Dorico v., MacOS Sonoma, 2019 Mac Pro 7,1

It’s the middle of the night London time, but I’m sure they will try to help you.

Yes, I’m hoping that when they arise, they’ll be able to (or try to) sort it.

Have you rebooted your computer?

I have. As well, I’ve tried a variety of file saves opening on my other system. And someone tried on theirs. No luck.

I also use a Mac.

I have found that a power surge or outage often (but maybe not always) will only affect the file being worked on or saved. With previously-saved files also being affected, it sounds like it might be that the operating system and the file storage structure have been affected. Even though it is relatively basic when compared to some of the specialised (and often expensive) file recovery software which is available, Apple’s Disk Utility usually does a pretty good job of detecting and fixing many such problems. Of course, if files have been severely mangled by whatever caused the problem then recovery starts looking unlikely. In your situation, my suggestion (which you are quite free to ignore - after all, it’s your computer) is to make a copy of all the affected files onto a USB stick (or other removable storage) so that you have a copy of the files. Then remove the USB and run Disk Utility on the computer’s internal drive.

Because where I live suffers from occasional random power fluctuations, a few years ago I purchased a small UPS (uninterruptible power supply) which provides smooth power for a while to anything plugged into it, giving me enough time to shutdown the computer gracefully rather than having it suddenly switch off. Since I started using the UPS as a buffer, I have had no outage problems affecting the computer. There have been times when the lights flicker and the UPS starts beeping but, unless the lights have gone out completely and I proceed to shut down while I have the chance, I have been able to keep on using the computer with a smile on my face.

Another solution, of course, which doesn’t suit my situation, is to use a laptop and have it plugged in to the mains only when it is switched off and/or the battery needs charging.

The battery will buffer the laptop from any power surges even when the mains is plugged in. The battery powers the computer, the cable charges the battery.

You’re right: it’s very weird. Do ANY files open correctly? What about the sample projects that come with Dorico (in /Users/Shared/)
I would definitely check and repair the entire disk.

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It’s not the file system. There are no other issues with any other Dorico file or any other file on the System. Similarly, my Time Machine backs up to an external drive so that THOSE files are also invalid is what’s most curious, by far.

I don’t use my laptop(s) for music work.

I’ll try Disk Repair, but it seems fairly unlikely to me that this is the issue.

Occasionally, little things become corrupted in a file and the team can manually repair the problem.

That’s why I’m very much hoping for.

You can certainly send me the problematic file, and we’ll do what we can to try to recover it, but we can’t make any guarantees. If the saving process really was interrupted, then it’s very possible that the project file is truncated and incomplete, in which case there’ll be nothing we can do. You can either send the project to me in a private message, or you can email it to me at d dot spreadbury at steinberg dot de.

Dan, thank you ! I will send the file over shortly via email. And I don’t believe I was saving the project when the power surge occurred, just working on it.

I will send a few versions, the one that was active during crash, and few earlier ones that I recovered from Time Machine, which backs up to an external drive.

OK Dan the email has been sent!

To close the loop on this issue: Peter’s file was unfortunately corrupted beyond the point at which we were able to recover it, even after my colleague Andrew spent two full days attempting to repair it.

In the process of looking at Peter’s project, we uncovered a nasty bug that could cause this corruption to occur in other projects, and we will issue a fix for this as soon as is practical. Because the fix affects the lowest levels of Dorico’s file format, we have to be extremely careful about any changes we make in this area, as we don’t want to run the risk of introducing other problems, so it will be a little while before we push out this fix.

In the meantime, we were able to pinpoint the problem to the Substitutes list in the Library > Font Styles dialog. If you add multiple substitutes for a font style and then use the buttons to re-order the substitutes in the list, you may see that one or more of the existing font names shown in the list becomes corrupted with peculiar characters. This indicates that corruption in the list of fonts has occurred, and at that point the project should not be saved. You should cancel the dialog to avoid saving this data into the font style, which will then later be saved into the file on disk and cause the corruption.

I’ve expressed to Peter my regret that he has lost a substantial amount of work on this project. It’s the worst case scenario kind of bug for us, and we are working diligently both to solve the problem in the Font Styles dialog specifically and to consider ways of making Dorico’s file format more resilient against these kinds of problems, while retaining backwards compatibility so that projects saved in Dorico 5 can still be opened in Dorico 4 and earlier (a quite difficult technical challenge).


Thank you for being up front about this and making us aware.
(Not a surprising approach by this first-rate development team.)