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Author Topic: Microsoft Horror Stories  (Read 1409 times)

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Microsoft Horror Stories
« on: March 16, 2018, 09:17:08 AM »
I didnít want to derail the impossible tasks subject, so I thought Iíd open a new subject heading for peopleís horror stories involving Microsoft.  Maybe Iím alone in this, but I have a feeling there are more than a few people who have experience a complete meltdown of a Microsoft product or their support.

Here is my latest:
I keep a spreadsheet of all my user names and passwords.  The spreadsheet itself is password protected, but I have over 75 different user names and passwords in this list.  Some of them I rarely use, some I use on an almost daily basis and then there are the ones that fall in between.

Two days ago, I had a message pop up that my laptop had updates installed and my system was going to automatically reboot at 3:00am on Thursday morning.  At the end of the day on Wednesday, I closed all my files and shutdown all applications and I rebooted my laptop.  When I logged back on Thursday morning, my password spreadsheet was gone.  All it showed was a ghost file, one that you see when a file is open itís a greyed-out icon with a ~$ next to the file name.  The actual file is gone.

I had prepared for such a scenario by keeping a backup copy.  The file I use is kept on an external hard drive, I have a copy on my local hard drive.  I tried to open it, and I got an error message that the file canít be open because the file extension or the file format is invalid.  Now this is a separate file from the one that is missing.  This file has not been opened in a while, but Iíve done nothing to it, itís a normal Excel file but Excel wonít open it.

Itís latest version of Excel, Excel 2016 and we are using Office365.  Iíve tried opening it using the repair option, and the extract data option (Do these things ever work.  I donít think Iíve ever had a Microsoft fix work once in the over twenty years Iíve been working with their products)

So I figure, I can still beat this.  I have my old Windows 7 laptop sitting behind me.  It has a copy of the spreadsheet.  Granted itís about two months old now so there are a few accounts that will be out of date, but it will have most the information I need.

I boot up the laptop and go to log in with my old credentials, and they no longer work.  I know Iím using the correct credentials, I have some emails where the user name and password were documented, but itís a no go.  Ok, not a problem, I pull the hard drive and put it in a hard drive enclosure I have.  I then connect the enclosed hard drive to my current laptop.
I can see all the files on the old hard drive, I must grant permission to current user account to the files on the old hard drive, but that works and I have access to all the files.  I pull up the old spreadsheet, I go to open it, and I get the same error message.
There is absolutely no reason to get this error message.  This is a perfectly good file, nothing has been done to it, but it wonít open. I can open every other excel and .csv file on my computer, but it wonít open my password file.  Iím thinking itís because this is the one file I have password protected and something happened in the wonderful updates that get pushed down on us that wonít allow me to open the file.  The only thing that throws a bit of a hold in that theory is that I was able to find a copy of the file from three years ago.  Its password protected, but I could open it.  Granted that file was not created in Excel 2017, I believe that was from Office 2010.

Thank you, Microsoft, for once again making my life ten times harder than it needs to be. Iím sick and tired of always having to fight my way through your products.  You feed us crap, and tell us itís a T-Bone steak.


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2018, 12:34:46 PM »
Have you tried using OpenOffice?
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2018, 01:12:52 PM »
Or Google Sheets/Google Docs in Google Drive.

I bought the premium version of aWallet Cloud, which is a password ap that lets you upload & download csv files, and others.  I think it was about $5. Plus, you have it on your phone so you can access your passwords from anywhere. 

Yeah, I'm pretty convinced that needing to contact MS support is one of the circles of Hell. We're getting a "time served" credit on our karma balance.  I don't even bother.  I just take it to our IT guy to see if they can retrieve the file or fix the problem.  Mine have always been able to. It's not that expensive if you use an independent business. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2018, 02:05:29 PM »
You sound like you are way more tech savvy than I am but I'll tell you what happened to me the other day, and maybe it will work for you.

I have an Excel spreadsheet that has all of my wedding planning in it.  I've just been right clicking on the Excel icon and pulling it up from there.  I went to open it on Saturday and it said it was no longer there?  What?  *cue mild panic*

So I go to 'Documents' and open up the folder the file is in and try to open the file.  It won't open.  *cue moderate panic*

At this point, I handed the computer over to my friend.  She had the same issues.  But then she opened up Excel and used 'File' 'Open' and it opened just fine.  Seriously?  Way to give me a heart attack, Microsoft.

So I have renamed the file and saved it again to ensure I have multiple copies saved and I've dumped it onto a thumb drive, as well.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2018, 05:40:29 AM »
I completely understand your frustration, hjaye! I hope I can help you with this trick:

1- Make a copy of your backup copy
2- Change the file extension to zip. Eg, backup.xls (or .xlsx) -->
3- Unzip. You'll see there are a lot of folders and files inside your innocent-looking spreadsheet
4- Open the folder xl. There are more folders and files. Open sharedStrings.xml. That's where your data is.
5- To open the xml, you can use Excel (say OK to both messages, ie, open as xml table and create a schema). You can also open it with Notepad (I use Notepad++, which is really neat -and opensource!)
6- You should see your data there

This works with all Microsoft files, they're actually full of data and metadata that can be extracted if one knows where to look :) This is somewhat related to my job, and has saved my behind more than once.

Let me know how it went! Best of luck!


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2018, 06:16:22 AM »
Thanks you Thel for trying to help, but I'm afraid it didn't work.

I thought it might actually be a work around, it took about a minute and then it did change it to a zip file.  I figured it was taking so long because it was sorting the data and metadata.  However when I went to open the zip file it gave me the same invalid file format error message.  I guess Microsoft is determined to make sure I can't retreive my data.

I think my best bet is to try and log into my old Windows 7 laptop.  I sent an email to someone in support who assisted me with the transition between my old Windows 7 laptop and my new Windows 10.  I've asked him if he can give me a the name and password of a local account on my Windows 7 laptop that I can log in with.  He gave me the information for my local machine I was hoping they had created the same local account on my old machine, but the credentials didn't work.

If I can log into my old machine, I'm pretty sure the spreadsheet will open.  I'll then be able to remove the password protection on the file and I'll save it as another backup copy and hook my external hard drive up to the old machine so I can copy the file to it.

My current machine can open all my other spreadsheets except for this one.  The only thing I can see that is different is this is the one file I have that is password protected.  I think the Windows 10 updates have done something to prevent me from opening a password protected spreadsheet, or at least a file I had password protected before the updates. 

This is the reason I cringe and cross my fingers and hold my breath every time I get the message that updates have been installed and my computer is going to be rebooted to finish the install.  I never know what is going to happen.  But if something does happen, it's never anything good.

A few months ago after one of the reboots, it changed some of my spreadsheets to read only.  That wasn't too big a deal, I just needed to do a save as and change the file name.  It's just one of the many reasons I've learned to hate Microsoft.


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2018, 11:11:16 AM »
A number of years ago, my then-job lost about (I think - it's been awhile) about a month's worth of emails and calendar information in Outlook. It was just gone, and the backup didn't work, either. This was company wide, not just a few people.

When they contacted Microsoft, it was revealed that this had happened due to an error that Microsoft knew about, but didn't bother to let people know about because it happened "so rarely." If I recall, most of the information was recovered, but it was a difficult few days.

Did I mention that this was a consulting firm, and so those calendars were pretty vital.


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2018, 04:08:17 PM »
Aw, hjaye, I'm so sorry it's still giving you grief :( Before posting my advice, I actually tested it on a password-protected file, to try to reproduce your conditions as best I could, and it did work for me. It does look like the update has messed up the permissions for previously-protected files, as you surmise, and I do hope logging into your Windows 7 will solve the issue. It's a good option.

I also hate Windows updates with a passion, but I'm too chicken to go Linux ::)

Again, best of luck, and please tell us if you won this battle in the Great Excel Wars! I'm rooting for you! :)


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2018, 06:44:43 PM »
Back when Windows 10 came out I had two computer, one running Windows 7 and the other running Windows 8, which I greatly disliked.  I tried to do the update with the Windows 7 machine, only to get a message something like this: 

"The conversion to Windows 10 did not happen because something is missing." 

The message then went on to tell me various fixes, none of which made sense (Contact my company's IT person?  This was my personal computer, not a company computer.)  I decided I didn't want to go to that much effort and converted the Windows 8 machine.  I did, however, back everything up on both computers before trying to convert. 

Talk about a singularly unhelpful message.   


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2018, 03:20:23 AM »
A Windows update or two back caused us a good half an hour of blind panic at work. It managed to "eat" the entire contents of the directory where all our work files were stored. Even with back ups, we were facing having lost at least a day's work.

Then we found Windows.Old and there, thankfully, were all our files, unharmed and ready to go.

So a happy ending, but I'd have preferred it not to have happened in the first place - for obvious reasons!


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Re: Microsoft Horror Stories
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2018, 11:42:12 AM »
Due to *something* (probably third party software?) on my office computer eating the CPU alive (starting anything spikes usage to 100% and it never goes much below 60%) I am doing a clean install of Windows 7 to test CPU usage.  If it stays "good", I'm cloning that hard drive to one that I'll be running the computer third party software that I can avoid (well, I have to have the cloning software installed) but Microsoft's Security Essentials will work for a computer rarely used for anything but printing crossword puzzles from the newspaper & reading email.

If that doesn't work - I'll try a clean install of Windows 10 (hah, hah, hah) - this computer is not going to be used much for the next two months, as I will be out of town spending time with other family members or VorGuy & I will be traveling together on vacation (he's now retired).   It shouldn't be seeing a lot of use...but it does need to be available, "just in case".
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I explain?