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Helix Diagnostics
Update Collection Basics

To update a collection to a newer version of Helix, or to check an already-updated collection for structural damage, you use the Update Collection utility program. The first step is always make a backup copy of the collection. If something goes wrong (power failure, crash, etc.) when Update Collection is checking a collection the collection may be permanently damaged. So please, always make a backup!

After you have a backup of your collection, open it with Update Collection. You can do this by launching Update Collection and selecting the collection that you wish to check, or by dragging the collection onto the Update Collection icon and releasing the mouse button when the icon highlights.

A dialog box appears with a warning about backing up your collection. (You did make a backup, right?) If you made a backup copy, press the “OK, I have a backup” button. If you didn’t, click “Cancel, I’ll make a backup first” and do so.

If the collection has already been updated to the current version, a second dialog appears informing you that this collection has already been updated, and offers to check the collection’s structural integrity. Click on the “Check Structure” button to run this test.

Whether updating a collection or checking the structure, a thermometer appears on screen to track the progress.

Collection OK Depending upon the results Update Collection can present different dialogs. Hopefully, you’ll always see one that looks like this:

The text ‘appears to be structurally sound’ means that Update Collection did not find anything wrong with the collection, according to the rules it uses to check collections. It is possible that problems can be introduced into a collection that Update Collection does not recognize as a problem. It is impossible to predict every possible ‘wrong answer,’ but Update Collection covers the vast majority of potential issues. (Actually, we do not know of any types of damage Update Collection fails to catch, but we have to put these disclaimers in.)

On other occasions it appears this way: minor maintenance

This “minor maintenance” message indicates that some ‘clean up work’ was performed on the collection. You should not worry when you see a message like this; minor maintenance is simple housekeeping that was not done during the normal operation of Helix, probably because the engineers determined that the performance loss required to do the housekeeping during operation would be noticeable.

It is also possible that a dialog like this can appear: Not Corrected

This indicates that Update Collection has found a problem it is not able to correct by itself. When you see a message like this, write down the diagnostic code found in the lower left hand corner of the dialog (15/002A/00000090 in the sample) and dismiss the dialog. A second dialog appears with generic information about the nature of damaged collections and suggesting alternative courses of action to take. Even if you choose to revert to a backup copy of your collection, please contact us and let us know what the diagnostic code - from the first screen - was. This helps us focus on areas in Helix we should work on to help reduce uncorrectable damage.

Collection Buffers

The performance of Update Collection can be improved significantly — particularly for large collections — by making sure the Collection Buffer is set correctly. Under macOS you simply set the buffer (found in Preferences) to a value large enough to hold your entire collection.

There is no Collection Buffer in the Classic version of Update Collection.


Beginning with version 5.2, Helix Update Collection is scriptable via AppleScript. See the documentation that comes with your version of Update Collection for instructions and sample code.

Diagnostic Mode (5.3–6.1)

In versions 5.3 through 6.1, Helix Update Collection contains a Diagnostic Mode that can be used to pre-diagnose the extent of structural damage. This is useful when trying to decide whether to schedule an immediate collection repair, a deferred repair, or to revert to a backup copy of the collection. In some cases, it may even provide enough clues that we can talk you through a repair over the phone.

To run Update Collection in Diagnostic Mode, hold the Control key down while Update Collection launches. Update Collection beeps once during launch to let you know that you have successfully entered Diagnostic Mode.

Note that if you hold the Control key down before clicking on Update Collection, the macOS Contextual Menu pops up. (If this happens, select Open from the menu and continue to hold the Control key while Update Collection launches and you hear the beep.)

An easier way to enable Diagnostic Mode is to use this drag and drop technique: click (and keep holding the mouse button down) on the collection, then press and hold the control key, then drag the collection onto Update Collection. Release the mouse button when Update Collection highlights, but do not release the Control key until you hear the beep. If you do not hear the beep, check the sound level on your computer, then quit Update Collection and try again.

Now that Update Collection is in Diagnostic Mode, proceed with the structure check just as always. The check appears to proceed normally, but the diagnostic data is being written to a file that is stored in the same folder as the Update Collection application.

There is very little in this file that can be put to use by someone without collection repair training. Send the file to our tech support department, and we can do a preliminary assessment of the damage.

Diagnostic Mode (6.2 — Europa)

Helix 6.2 (aka: Europa) contains an integrated structure checker that eliminates the need for a separate Update Collection application. Click the Integrated Structure Checker link above for details.