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Corrupt Word file corrupts whole system

23790 Views 190 Replies Latest reply: Oct 15, 2013 12:41 PM by Allan Eckert RSS Branched to a new discussion.
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epollari Calculating status...
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Nov 18, 2011 8:06 AM

I've got a Word file that's close to 200 pages in size. After keeping it open for a while Word:Mac 2011 reports an unrecoverable disk error without specifying the offending file name and hangs. My other Word files are OK. My Macbook Pro (with Mac OS X Lion) goes into "Hoover mode" with the fan spinning at full tilt. Worse still, the whole hard disk is corrupted. A verify with Disk Utility shows corrupted Word work files. Disk repair won't fix the disk and Mac OS X won't boot up any longer. I have no choice but to do a recovery boot and allow Time Machine to do a full restore, erasing and reformatting the disk while at it. This happens over and over again. I can accept that files get corrupted, but not that they corrupt the whole system!

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.2), Word:Mac 2011
  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)
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    Nov 18, 2011 8:45 AM (in response to epollari)

    Did you try repairing the drive from recovery mode?  You can't repair a drive while the system is running from that drive.  If Disk Utility can't repair it in recovery mode, then the disk has serious problems.  Although I have never seen it personally, I have heard tell of drives that become so badly corrupted that erasing does not fix it, and only repartitioning will work.  You could also try another program for the repairs, like DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro.


    You also may have some third-party software that is repeatedly corrupting the hard drive.  What that software might be, I don't know.  I doubt it's Word, but you never know.


    Unfortunately, another possibility is that the drive is dying, and will need to be replaced.

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)
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    Nov 18, 2011 1:30 PM (in response to epollari)

    Then sounds like it may be Word.  Have you updated it?  Have you tried opening that file in something other than Word, or on a different computer?


    Also, I'm not sure what "MTBF" is, but don't make the mistake of thinking a 3-month-old hard drive can't die.  They certainly can.

  • etresoft Level 7 Level 7 (23,900 points)
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    Nov 18, 2011 4:07 PM (in response to epollari)

    If the machine is only 3 months old, then it may be a DOA (dead on arrival) hard drive. Even if the DOA rate is a fraction of one percent, that still means several thousand considering how many machines Apple makes. Is this your first notebook? Because notebook hard drives tend to start failing at about 3 years of age. It may certainly last longer, but if it acts like a hard drive failure, and the machine is 3 years old, then it probably is a failure.


    I can't imagine that a Word document would corrupt the hard drive. It is much more likely that a corrupt hard drive corrupted that document. Word has no problem with 200 page documents, or more. But if the document is corrupt, you will have to restore it from a backup. It is unlikely to ever open again.

  • Tony T1 Level 6 Level 6 (8,125 points)
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    Nov 19, 2011 5:35 AM (in response to epollari)

    epollari wrote:


    It's my umpteenth notebook. The hard drive shows no signs of corruption until I open the offending Word file. It opens just fine, but after a while I end up with a corrupted startup disk. I'm doing restores all the time.


    The same file did give me grief on my previous MacBook with Snow Leopard. Word 2008 would report an autosave error, but there was no disk corruption.


    Try saving in a different Word Format (i.e. docx, or doc)

  • RequiredAliasOfDecentLength Calculating status...
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    Mar 5, 2012 1:19 PM (in response to thomas_r.)

    I've had this same problem with various word 2011 documents. The problem seems to lie in the auto-save files. Periodically, the auto-save process (or something else that's contending for the same files) causes a hard-link error in the file system. At that stage, Word locks up and the system goes to 100% CPU while syslogd struggles to log a huge multitude of HFS link error messages -- thousands every second!


    At this point, rebooting shows that the disk directory structure is corrupted. Neither Disk Utility (on the recovery partition) nor fsck (booted into single-user mode) are very reliable at recovering the structure.


    I'm in the process of recovering from one of these failures right now... And after this will try putting my autosave files onto a virtual disk image: at least I don't care if that gets corrupted!

  • charpre Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    May 1, 2012 11:56 PM (in response to epollari)

    I am having the same problem. 400+ page Word file, latest versions of Word and Lion. Second time this has happened. No problems with any other file until I worked in this document tonight. Last time Apple genius bar told me my hard drive was dying and I replaced it. Hard drive now only one month old and same error. Back to my tech person I go.

  • RequiredAliasOfDecentLength Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    May 2, 2012 5:42 AM (in response to charpre)

    I've been running with Autosave switched off in Word since my previous post (above) in March. In the end, I couldn't move the autosave files to a virtual disk image, so I just switched it all off and I've had no problems at all since! I used to see corruption at least every week or so, so I'm confident that this is indeed the solution.


    Microsoft just released SP2 for Office 2011, but I haven't dared to switch Autosave back to see if they've fixed it. I'd rather not find out the hard way...

  • charpre Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thank you so much for your response. Based on your previous comments, that is what I was planning to do--turn off the autosave. Glad to hear it appears to be a solution. I am running SP2 and had this issue, so it appears not to be fixed. I will post again here with my experience after I've tried awhile with this setting. Thank you again for your help. So grateful for the internet and the generosity of spirit of people like you in support communities like these!

  • dill.sellars Calculating status...
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    May 21, 2012 3:06 PM (in response to epollari)

    Wow. This just happened to me. Replaced a hard drive, did complete clean install - still got this error, 100% syslogd cpu, /var/logkernel.log filled with hardlink errors. Emailed the docx to a completely separate Mac system - same problem within 15 minutes. Word for Mac completely kills itself and takes the O.S. with it - makes it look like you have a bad hard drive.

  • pjfarmer Calculating status...
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    May 30, 2012 9:59 AM (in response to dill.sellars)

    Bah!  I get this same problem on my MacBook Air -- and it has a solid-state drive. 


    I think it's safe to say that this is a Word bug, not a hard drive hardware problem.


    It's beyond annoying.

  • ProfessorBen Calculating status...
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    Jun 6, 2012 6:16 PM (in response to epollari)

    Yep - same problem here. Had to repair disk and turn off autosave. Hopefully these will be enough for this to be a patch.


    Always on Snow Leopard Word gave me the "HD full" error, now on Lion Word has upped the ante to "Corrupt disk" and actually corrupting my disk. I saw in the disk repair that a 'Word Work File' was part of the problem. I supposed in Mountain Lion Word will actually just blow up my HD and Microsoft's revenge will be complete.

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