Tech Stocking Stuffers: 18 awesome gifts under $50

Documents no longer able to be read or opened properly

By MysterioMask ยท 14 replies
Oct 2, 2013
Post New Reply
  1. Im not sure if this is the right place to post this or not, or honestly where I should post this. But recently there was a computer who someone jacked up and got all kinds of junk on, and I removed most if not all the stuff. The actual problem is that now none of their some 200 + documents are able to be opened. Ive tried all kinds of stuff, any word documents or open office documents, spreadsheets whatever cant be open and if I force it to be opened I get ascii code or garbled nonsense. No matter what the document. Old new whatever. I even tried transferring some documents to other computers and opening them there but nothing seems to work. Is there any way to recover these documents and what may have been the cause to mess up every single file like that. If you wish to redirect me to another forum where this might be more relevant that's fine. I can also provide a few of the documents here if anyone wants to give them a try. Thanks.
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 10,885   +903

    First, find the location of your Word, Excel and other programs which you need to use BUT are not opening your documents.

    Then in the explorer window, find a file giving you problems

    click once to select it, then right click on the file name [a] ->Open
    you get a prompt, (*) Select a program and ok
    You will get a set of icons for known programs and
    * if you see the correct program check the option [x] Always use the selected and click on the ion. click OK
    *if not click the Browse button
    and you will be in the Program Files directory
    Scroll through to find what you want for the file you started with at [a] and select it, click ok
  3. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,582   +248

    If jobeards helpful post on how to assign the job to a particular program doesn't work the owner of the computer needs to take on board some basic lessons. Firstly, that security programs are essential and must be kept up to date because some sites are dangerous places. Secondly, regular backups of important documents need to be made and kept elsewhere. Thirdly, some problems are insoluble.
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    It is also possible that the documents are encrypted. In Win 8 that could be built-in bitlocker, in earlier systems a third-party package. In your cleaning process it would be easy to destroy that without even knowing it.
  5. MysterioMask

    MysterioMask TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 128

    I thank everyone for the replys, but we have moved well past the solutions offered. The files are being opened with the correct programs, but when opened they show ascii code or other unreadable garbled texts. Its not just one file its all files in their documents folder that suddenly are now doing it. Also there isn't any encryption the files. It doesn't matter if I move the files to other computers newer or older they all open but cant be read.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    You have said nothing about what software you think created those files. All you say is 'documents'. That could be MS office - any of 15 generations or so, open office, wordpad, libre office, word perfect and literally dozens of others.
    Try Open Office - it is quite good at making sense of files after ignoring the file version.
  7. MysterioMask

    MysterioMask TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 128

    I apologize. I had thought I had mentioned previously that the documents. Were mainly in word format, excel and in open office writer formats. Opening them in any of those on any computer with any of those programs still creates the ascii code thing.
  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    No, you actually wrote that you have tried word, excel and open office to open 'documents'. There is no certainty whatever that a document.doc was written by word, or a document.xls was written by excel and so on. The fact that they fail to open with word or excel is quite significant.

    The point of what I am saying is that Open Office will make it's best effort to open anything mostly by examining the actual content. For example, with open office writer, if I try to open a .dbf file (foxpro database), it will actually start office calc (not writer) and show what looks like an excel spreadsheet, which is quite clever.

    So yes, if you wish to post a sample of small files on here, I would be intrigued to try to find out what is wrong with them.
  9. MysterioMask

    MysterioMask TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 128

    Sorry about not responding in such a long time. Got swamped with other stuff and sort of forgot about this issue. I will grab a file to send tomorrow. Is it possible that a virus infected every document in the document folder so that all of them were unreadable? Im curious as to what may have caused this. Or what the reasoning would be. Besides some malware company infecting something and wanting you to pay them to fix it.
  10. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Possible of course, but it greatly depends on many factors that you have not expanded upon at all. Somehow I have gathered an impression that we are talking about a PC operated by someone else, not you. That PC might be operated by a child or teenager for all we know here, who might visit atrocious sites certain to infect the PC, which might have no protection or might have protection disabled. It goes on to nightmare limits.

    In general, I would guess that after learning the full history, there might well be no reason whatever for sympathy or assistance. The user might be reaping the fruits of total carelessness or ignorance or deliberate risk-taking. Indeed, anyone downloading one of the sample files in an effort to help might land themselves in a whole load of trouble. Please virus-check any sample files you post every which-way from Sunday.
  11. MysterioMask

    MysterioMask TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 128

    The person is in their 60s I believe, and its a work computer of theirs. So I would be more apt to believe that something popped up on the screen saying something like YOUR INFECTED CLICK ME TO CLEAN NOW! And then they went about clicking it. But they claim they hadn't done much of anything just couldn't suddenly get into any of their documents. I did clean their computer out and it did have some junk on it but the machine should be clean now.

    Anyway I have attached some documents. They are zipped because it wouldn't let me upload the files directly but there should be 5 files of mostly different formats in it. Hope you have better luck than I did.

    Attached Files:

  12. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    Opening with winzip and performing a basic integrity test of the zip file tells me every file is 'broken'. I don't know what that means from winzip point of view.

    @mysterio - if this is a work PC, then there should be backups. If not, there should be quiet words to the business owner including phrases like 'professional reponsibilities','reputation destruction' and according to the business sector, other words with more strict meanings like 'data protection act', 'financial auditing', 'data disclosure' and 'non-compliance with legal requirements' amongst others. I'm sure you know all that.
  13. MysterioMask

    MysterioMask TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 128

    Im not entirely sure what you mean by winzip telling you they are broken. I was able to extract them without issue from my home comp. But as for backups I am not entirely sure. I don't think they ever backed up or used any cloud storage. I tried restoreing their comp back to a previous time but that didn't work. So currently I am digging through a stack of hard drives which I have not wiped yet since I think one of them was a drive from an older comp of theirs which should have most of the files.

    But anyway you are unable to open the zip folder at all?
  14. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    I dont know. As I said. If I am in winzip and I select the option 'test', normally I just get a list of files in the compression, with 'OK' against each one. In this case, it said 'BROKEN' against each one......which did not prevent them being extracted...... but of course, I have absolutely no way of knowing if the extracted files resembled the originals in any way, shape or form.

    Looking at the extracted files, they look exactly like they are either (a) encrypted or (b) deliberately scrambled or (c) still zipped up.

    I would prefer you to upload the smallest file without zipping it first, so I can eliminate one possible problem.

    EDIT: just this moment, comes my weekly edition of Windows secrets, which talks about what seems highly likely to be the problem. CryptoLocker infection (I dont know if you will be able to see this, but it is the best summary. Free registration well worth-while)



    The payload appears as a zip file, and apparently there is little defence at the moment apart from frequent secure backups of all standard document types. The damage is done, and I will not be doing any more on this problem, as it seems conclusive to me what has happened.
  15. MysterioMask

    MysterioMask TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 128

    Alright. Thanks for trying. Ive for the most part given up myself on getting the documents back as well.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...