FAQs

Q?

Converting a data file to a new FileMaker Pro file

A.

You can convert a data file from another application into a new FileMaker Pro file. FileMaker Pro imports the data and creates a new FileMaker Pro file. This converted FileMaker Pro file will contain:
• The data from the file or source you convert.
• Two layouts for displaying the data: a Standard Form layout and a List view layout.
• Converted field names if they are available in the file or source you convert. Otherwise, field names are generic: f1, f2, f3, and so on. (Field names convert from Bento, Microsoft Excel, FileMaker Pro, DBF, Merge, ODBC, and XML formats.)
• Converted field types (text, number, date, and so on) if they are available in the file or source you convert. Otherwise, all fields are text fields. (Field types convert from Bento, FileMaker Pro, Microsoft Excel, ODBC, DBF, and XML formats.)
For information on importing data into an existing file, see Importing data into an existing file.
Note For information on converting Bento data into a new file, see Importing Bento data (Mac OS).

To import data into a new file:

1. In the source application (the application from which you're importing data into FileMaker Pro), save the data you want to import in a file type that FileMaker Pro supports.
For a list of supported file types, see Supported import/export file formats.

2. Use one of the following methods to open the data file:
• In FileMaker Pro, choose File menu > Open.
• In the FileMaker Quick Start Screen, click Convert an Existing File.
• Drag the data file onto the FileMaker Pro application.
3. In the Create a New File Named dialog box or Open dialog box (Windows) or Open File (Mac OS) dialog box, for Files of type (Windows) or Show (Mac OS), specify the type of file (if needed), choose the file to convert, then click Open.

4. If you see the First Row Option dialog box, choose whether the first row of data contains field names or the first record of data, then click OK.

5. If you’re converting a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and the Specify Excel Data dialog box appears, choose a worksheet or named range from the workbook file, then click OK.
6. In the Create a New File Named dialog box, type a name for the new file, choose a location, then click Save.

FileMaker Pro converts the data to a FileMaker Pro file and displays the file.

Notes
• If the file you’re converting is large, you may see an Importing dialog box that shows the progress of the import process. To stop importing, click Stop. However, FileMaker Pro still creates a file containing a partial set of the converted data.
• If you routinely import data from the same source, you can automate the process by setting up recurring imports. Data imported via recurring import is read-only in FileMaker Pro. For more information, see Setting up recurring imports.

Q?

Corrupt / Damaged Files: How to avoid the need for recovery

A.

File corruption is not inevitable, but it's a good idea to take measures to prevent damage to a database and ensure that databases are properly backed-up in case of disaster.

Why do files become damaged?

In order to understand how corruption occurs, it is useful to know how FileMaker Pro manages data.

FileMaker Pro is a disk-based application, so it does not need to load the entire database into RAM as the file is opened. Instead, the application transfers data as needed from the hard drive to RAM and back; as the file is used, updated data is written from data buffers in RAM to the hard drive. The most common cause of file damage is an unexpected application termination. In most cases, an unexpected quit will occur when the file is between hard-drive updates. In this situation, the next time the database is opened, FileMaker Pro runs a consistency check on the file and the file typically opens without problems. However, if the unexpected quit occurs during a hard drive update, the file is likely to require recovery.

Back up your databases

Routine back-ups are imperative for any document stored on a computer. Magnetic media has a sometimes transitory nature; entropy surrounds us and our data.

A good back-up program should provide multiple copies of a database as sources for restoration. A scheme involving rotating back-ups can accomplish this. This method involves separate back-up copies over no less than a two-week rotation. The file is backed-up to a set on day one, a new set on day two, until ten sets of back-ups exist (assuming a five day work week). On the eleventh day, the first set is reused. This type of rotation ensures that a lurking problem will not spoil your chances of a complete file restoration. If new data entry has been minimal since the last back-up, it may be more efficient to simply use a back-up rather than going through a time-consuming recovery. Many programs are available to ease the drudgery of routine back-ups. Using a back-up program that allows file- or folder-specific back-ups will provide the most efficient protection of important database files.

For very important files, it may be a good idea to store back-ups at an off-site location, should the disaster not be limited to the file itself.

FileMaker Server has built-in backup scheduling and should be considered when sharing mission critical files.

Save a Clone

Because it is sometimes possible to salvage only the data from a damaged file, periodically saving a clone of a file will ensure that there is always a database to house your data. Avoid having to rebuild a database; store a clone with your back-ups.

Avoid dangerous situations

Since unexpected application termination is the most common cause of database corruption, avoiding unexpected quits on the computer from which the file is running is the best way to avoid damaging a database. Since one common cause of unexpected quits is extension conflicts, run as few extensions as possible on the computer on which your FileMaker Pro databases are running. System stability and the number of active extensions are inversely proportional. In particular, public domain or shareware extensions should be avoided. Commercial extensions are less likely to be a problem, IF the most current version of all software is always used.

If the file is being used in an area subject to power outages, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is strongly advised. The cost of a UPS might equal the time involved in one file recovery.

File size

Since FileMaker Pro 7, a FileMaker Pro file can be up to 8 terabytes (TBs) in size. Previous versions of FileMaker Pro supported significantly smaller file sizes.

Files that have exceeded that limit will be damaged beyond repair, since key elements of the file structure are likely to have been overwritten. If your file is approaching the file size limit, it is strongly recommended that you upgrade.

Hard disk problems

In cases of multiple corrupted files on a hard drive, the hard drive itself may be the culprit. Check the health of the hard drive with a disk utility program. Software that optimizes, compresses, or partitions the hard drive should be the most current version. Driver software must be compatible with the System version.

Routine maintenance

In some cases, no maintenance beyond frequent back-ups is necessary. However, most databases are good candidates for a routine compression. Saving a compressed copy rewrites the entire database, fitting as much data into each block as is possible. This procedure not only reclaims unused space in the file, it also rebuilds the file's structure. Compression can be time-consuming if file is large, and might be best accomplished as an overnight task.

Because the recovery process removes structures that may harbor corruption, you may not want to use recovery for routine maintenance. If you do, examine the recovered file carefully to be sure that all objects are intact; objects that are possibly suspicious will be removed.

When to recover

In general, you should recover only files that will not open or are displaying obvious problems with finding and sorting. Note that there are many situations other than corruption that will result in incorrect finding or sorting, including mismatched field types, and you may want to investigate these other possibilities before you recover a file.

Make Changes in a Copy of the File

Any time you make major changes to a file, including field deletions or modifications, it's a good idea to work in a clone of the database and import your data after the design work is done. The importance of using a clone for design modifications increases as the database size grows.

Use the most current revision of your version of the application

It is always a good idea to use the latest and greatest version that you can. This insures you are using the latest version that has all the latest bug fixes and enhancements in it.

Conclusion

Timely back-ups are the only guarantee of database integrity and data safety. Using the FileMaker Pro recover command is like tossing a life-saver to a person who can't swim; it will probably save the person, but it would have been more prudent to keep them from getting wet in the first place.

Q?

Converting older FileMaker Pro files to the .fmp12 file format

A.

FileMaker Compatibility with prior versions of FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server

FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Pro Advanced databases only work with other FileMaker software that supports the .fmp12 file format. Files from previous versions of FileMaker Pro must be converted to the new file format to be shared with versions of FileMaker Pro that support the .fmp12 format. In addition, FileMaker Server and FileMaker Server Advanced will only host .fmp12 files. The .fmp12 FileMaker product family is not backward compatible with any other version of FileMaker software.

File Conversion

FileMaker Pro can directly open or convert your existing FileMaker Pro (.fmp12) apps and FileMaker Pro (.fp7) 11, 10, 9, 8 and 7 apps. All other versions of FileMaker Pro will require a multiple product conversion. Review the information below to determine whether your files will directly convert to FileMaker Pro, or if they will need to be converted multiple times.