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A Word About Recurring Collection Damage
Introduction We recently replied to an email from a customer inquiring about recurring collection damage. The Helix Utilities report damage once every month or two, on average. This is definitely not the typical Helix experience, and after replying with the "distilled wisdom" we've gathered over the years, we decided to post this as this FAQ page.
Hardware Issues

The primary explanation for recurring collection damage is hardware failure. Perhaps the Mac your Helix database is running on has a RAM chip that is intermittently failing. That is a common source of file damage, whether we are talking about a Helix database or a PageMaker publication or anything else. ("RAM" should be interpreted to include L2 and L3 cache memory as well.)

Second to faulty RAM is hard drive failure. A system that "locks up" so the mouse won't even move, requiring a hard restart is almost always caused by corrupt disk drivers. Reinstalling drivers from the OS installer CD typically resolves that. A system that "hangs" or "stalls" for no apparent reason (typically with the wristwatch cursor) is usually caused by either corrupt system software or a failing hard drive. Newer versions of the Mac OS Disk Utility report the "SMART" status of a drive, which is an internal check that attempts to predict how far away a hard drive failure is. (Rest assured, all hard drives will fail someday. They are the one constantly moving part in a computer and like all things mechanical, they simply wear out.)

Freezes, Stalls, and Other Anomalies

We recently replied to an email from a customer inquiring about recurring collection damage. The Helix Utilities report damage once every month or two, on average. This is definitely not the typical Helix experience, and after replying with the "distilled wisdom" we've gathered over the years, we decided to post this as this FAQ page.

The best way to isolate hardware issues is to run your collection on another Mac for a while, if possible. Doing this should either confirm or refute the theory that your problem is caused by problematic or faulty hardware, or corrupt system software.

OS and Version Compatibility

Also important is version compatibility: Make sure you are running the most recent version of Helix that is compatible with your system software. We've spent a good deal of time in the Helix 5.x series eliminating bugs that typically result in Helix crashes (errors starting with 5xxx or 7xxx) and you may find that your problem is addressed by one or more of those fixes. Version compatibility information is found at the bottom of the main Helix Products page.

Along this line, please note running versions of Helix Server prior to 6.0 in Classic Mode in macOS has been shown to cause collection damage that is not detectable until it is too late. The collections we have seen that were run in macOS have had serious damage done to them.

The Writer Asks:

In the email that prompted this FAQ page, the writer asked, "is there any way that quitting Helix Server and/or abandoning the clients could cause damage that would be "repaired" by opening and using the collection again?"

The only case of such a problem that we have ever seen resulted in Update Collection reporting a collection as "not corrected" as opposed to the Helix Utility's "fatal damage" you are seeing. We fixed that in Helix 5.3. Beyond that such a symptom would point to hardware issues.

Conclusion

We recently replied to an email from a customer inquiring about recurring collection damage. The Helix Utilities report damage once every month or two, on average. This is definitely not the typical Helix experience, and after replying with the "distilled wisdom" we've gathered over the years, we decided to post this as this FAQ page.

So if you are plagued by a recurring problem and are able and willing to "roll up your sleeves" and dig in a little deeper to resolve this, contact our technical support department and describe your situation. And it may go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: if you are experiencing crashes or collection damage and you don't tell us about it, we certainly can't help you fix it.