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Usage manual for Recovery Toolbox for PDF

Recovery Toolbox for PDF (download) is intended for recovering damaged and unrecognized *.pdf files. This document format is extremely popular both online and offline, and is often used for storing important information. Recovery Toolbox for PDF can recover the following:

  • Contents of a *.pdf file: text, graphics, tables, hyperlinks and forms used in a document.
  • Structure of a *.pdf file: internal cross-link tables forming the base of the document structure. If these tables are damaged, the document may appear unreadable. The software is capable of restoring these data and the links used in them.
  • Fonts and other metadata: embedded fonts and other metadata.
  • Parameters of a *.pdf file: file version and the size of document pages. If the software fails to restore this information, you can manually specify the default parameters for the whole document.

Recovery of a *.pdf file is carried out in several stages:

  1. Selection of a damaged file to be recovered
  2. Configuration of default program settings (optional)
  3. Analysis of the contents of the original document
  4. Selection of the name of the output *.pdf file
  5. Selection of the version of the output *.pdf file
  6. Document recovery and saving
  7. Revision of the recovery report

To learn more about the program, you can download the trial version that has all the document analysis features of the full version, but only saves the first page of the document. The rest of the pages will have the word DEMO written across them.

Let's take a look at the process of document recovery using Recovery Toolbox for PDF.

1. Selection of a damaged file to be recovered

Screenshot 1.

Right after Recovery Toolbox for PDF is started, you will see a pdf file selection window. You can choose the necessary file in one of the following ways:

  1. Enter the file name and path into the Source file name (.pdf): field located in the main working area of the program. When you start entering the name of the file and its path, the software will automatically fill the field with information from the list of files you have already recovered. The software uses the name of the last opened file matching the information being entered.
  2. Choose a file to recover using the standard file opening dialog. This dialog can be brought up using the Open button to the right of the Source file name (.dbf) field. If the dialog is opened for the first time, it will start in the Recovery Toolbox for PDF installation folder. In the future, it will open the folder specified in the input field or, if it can't open this folder or the field is empty, will use the last folder opened with it.
  3. Select a previously opened file from the dropdown list of the Source file name (.pdf) field. The software saves the names of the files opened by the user and paths to them in its settings and allows you to quickly reopen them in the future. If necessary, the list of recently opened files can be cleared using the Tools | Clear lists | Source files command.

Once you have chosen a file to be recovered, it is recommended to check and modify the program's recovery settings. The settings window can be opened by the Tools | Options. command. The program settings of Recovery Toolbox for PDF are described in chapter 2.

There is a button labeled Send a file to developers in the lower part of the screen that allows you to send a pdf file to the authors of Recovery Toolbox for PDF. You can also send a file at any time using the Tools | Send source file command.

Once you have chosen a document and configured its recovery parameters, press the Analyze button at the bottom of the program window. The analysis process is described in chapter 3.

If the program is unable to find the document at the specified location, you will see the following message: Please select an existing file to recover. In this case, the program will not proceed to the next step.

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2. Configuration of default program settings

The program settings dialog allows you to specify the default recovery parameters. These parameters are needed if the source pdf file does not contain any information about page sizes and orientation.

Setting the default page size in Recovery Toolbox for PDF is an optional step. The program settings dialog can be brought up using the Tools | Options. command.

The program settings window contains the following sections:

  1. Paper format If the page being recovered does not have a specified size or this part of the file has been damaged, the user of Recovery Toolbox for PDF can specify the default page size.
    This section enables you to select one of the most popular sizes from the dropdown list - A4 (8.3 x 11.7 inches), Letter (8.5 x 11 inches) or specify a custom format (< User defined >). If you select one of the standard sizes, you can specify the page orientation using the dropdown list on the right - Portrait or Landscape.
    When using a custom page size, the ability to specify page orientation will be blocked and you will be able to enter two page parameters - Width and Height. They determine the page dimensions in units specified in the Units dropdown list - inches or centimeters.

If you need to restore the default settings, you can use the Set defaults button.

Once the above parameters have been set, the program saves them and uses for future recoveries (even after it is restarted).

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3. Analysis of the contents of the original document

Screenshot 2.

Once you have selected a file to recover and pressed the Analyze button (see point 1), the program proceeds to the document analysis stage.

Recovery Toolbox for PDF performs the following recovery actions:

  1. Reads the document structure, detects the offsets marking the beginning of internal cross-link tables, identifies them, scans and identifies other objects in the source file. It also identifies other parameters of the PDF document.
  2. Extracts the page format information from the document. If this information cannot be extracted, the software will use the parameters specified in the program settings.
  3. Reads the information about internal cross-links. PDF documents use internal cross-links that define the way data are stored in them.
  4. Identifies metadata stored in the document. Some PDF documents contain embedded fonts used in them. The program needs to extract these data and save them into the output file.
  5. Reads text data from the document. Many PDF documents contain large amounts of text data and hyperlinks.
  6. Extracts graphics and other media data from the document. Besides texts, PDF documents may contain vector and bitmap graphics, forms and multimedia components.

The following analysis-related information is displayed in the main part of the program window:

  • A progress bar for the Parsing file process. Besides the file analysis progress bar, the program also shows the analysis percent value, the volume of processed data and the full size of the file in the bar header.
  • Information about errors detected during the recovery process. If all the records in the file are correct, you will see the No errors found message in green or the X errors found in red, where X is the number of errors detected.

Once the software has finished analyzing your PDF document, it automatically proceeds to the next stage, where you can select the name and path of the output file.

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4. Selection of the name of the output *.pdf file

Screenshot 3.

This stage allows you to select the path and name of the file to be used for saving data from the damaged PDF file. The file can be selected in one of the three ways:

  1. By entering the path and name of the file manually into the Please select file name field located in the main working area of the program. When the window is shown, this field with a dropdown list is automatically populated with the following information: the path to the file to be used for saving the recovery results in the folder the original file was located in. The name of the destination file is composed of the original file name and the _repaired suffix. For instance, if the program processed a file named example.pdf, it will suggest saving the destination file as example_repaired.pdf in the same folder the original file was located in.
  2. By selecting the file using a dialog. The Open button located to the right of the field with a dropdown list enables you to open the standard Open File dialog. When the dialog is opened, the program suggests saving the file in the same folder and with the same name that were specified in the field with a dropdown list.
  3. By selecting the file from the dropdown list of the Please select file name field. The program saves the information about previously saved files in its settings and populates the dropdown list with the saved values (file names and paths) when the file selection window is opened. If necessary, the list of saved files can be cleared using the Tools | Clear lists | Output files command.

The main part of the window also shows the maximum amount of hard drive space the recovered file may require and the space available on the selected drive.

If necessary, you can use the Back button to go back to the file selection stage and choose another file for recovery.

To continue working with the program and proceeding to the format selection stage, press the Next button after selecting the file name and path. If the program finds a file with the same name in the destination folder, you will see the following warning message: Selected file already exists. Overwrite? If you answer Yes in the warning window, the file will be saved under the specified name. If you answer No, the program will go back to the file selection stage.

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5. Selection of the version of the output *.pdf file

Screenshot 4.

Recovery Toolbox for PDF can save recovered data from the original file in any PDF format - from 1.0 (Acrobat Reader 1.0) to 1.7 (Acrobat Reader 8.0). However, don't forget that saving a document in an older format may result in the loss or corruption of document data incompatible with this format.

You can select the format of the destination file in the Select output PDF file version: field with a dropdown list.

When the file format selection window is shown, the program automatically suggests saving the document in the format version matching that of the original document. If the source file has been damaged too badly and the software cannot detect it, it will suggest saving the file in the latest available format version (the current version of the program supports PDF 1.7, Acrobat Reader 8.0).

Compression can also be used for saving files. If you use compression, the resulting files will occupy less space on the hard drive, but the document saving process may take longer to complete. Compression can be enabled using the Enable compression checkbox.

Once you have finished configuring the format of the output file, press the Save file button at the bottom of the program screen to proceed to data recovery and saving.

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6. Document recovery and saving

Screenshot 5.

The process of data recovery and saving is fully automated and does not require any user's involvement. The program performs the following actions:

  1. Check and recover. The software checks the previously identified document structure, copies it along with the data into the memory of your computer and fixes any errors it detects at this stage.
  2. Check for obsolete objects. Checks the document for remaining objects and includes them into the destination document.
  3. Compress and save objects. Objects are compressed (if this option is enabled by the user) and saved to the destination file. The Abort button located at the bottom of the window becomes active. You can use it to stop the process of saving data into the destination file. When this button is pressed, the program shows a warning with the following text: Cancel file saving? If you press No, the saving process will continue. If Yes is pressed, the objects saving process will be interrupted and the program will proceed to the next step without completing the current one.
  4. Save XRef section. Saving of the section of internal cross-links.
  5. Save trailer. Saving of the document trailer.

The progress of each of the above processes is shown on the progress bar in the main working area of the program. Above the bar is a status line showing other process parameters (depending on the action currently performed by the program): the Saving file. message, information about the stage of document processing (Processing X of 5, where X corresponds to the current stage), the per cent value of the overall progress and so forth. Below the progress bar is a list of recovery stages with green ticks marking the completed ones. Should the saving of objects be interrupted, the Compress and save objects stage will be marked with a red tick.

Once all the recovery stages are completed, the program will automatically proceed to the recovery log.

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7. Revision of the recovery log

Screenshot 6.

At this stage, the program shows a text block containing a report on the current recovery session divided into sections corresponding to each of the files recovered by the program. Each section contains of the following lines:

  • Date and time of the beginning of the recovery process.
  • The name of the source file and its path, File processed:
  • The number of objects processed, Read . objects
  • The name of the resulting file and its path, Destination file:
  • The number of objects saved, Saved . objects
  • File processing report: Saving successful if the file has been successfully recovered, Saving cancelled by user if the Abort button was pressed or an error description.
  • Date and time of the end of the recovery process.

Once you have taken a look at the recovery report, you can go back to the file selection window by pressing the Back button or stop using the program with the help of the Finish button. When the Finish button is pressed, the program will show a confirmation window with the following text: Do you want to finish recovery? If you choose Yes, the program will quit. If No is pressed, you can continue working with the report.

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Addition: Program menu

The program menu consists of the following items:

  • File This item has a sub-item:
    • Exit You can quit the program by choosing this item.
  • Tools This item contains three sub-items:
    • Send source file This feature enables you to send a pdf file to the program authors for analysis.
    • Clear lists Contains two sub-items:
      • Source files Clears the list of source files.
      • Output files Clears the list of output files.
  • Options. Allows you to configure the program parameters related to documents being recovered. For details, please see chapter 2.
  • Help contains the following items:
    • Recovery Toolbox for PDF help Opens the help file.
    • Recovery Toolbox for PDF on the Web Opens the web page of the program in your browser.
    • Buy now Opens the order page and allows you to purchase the program.
    • About Opens the About the program page.

You can quit the program at any stage by selecting File -> Exit, by pressing the Exit button in the lower right corner of the program window or by clicking the standard Close button in the window header. If you quit the program at stage 1-4, the recovery process will not finish and the recovered document will not be saved. If you used the Exit button, the program will show a confirmation window with the following text: Do you want to finish recovery? If you press Yes, the program will quit. If you press No, you can continue working with your document. If other exit methods are used (menu or the close button in the window header), the program will quit without a confirmation.

Once the recovery of a .pdf file is over at stage 7, you can quit the program by pressing the Finish button. You can also press the Back button located to the left of the Exit button at any stage (except for stage 1 when a file is selected) to go one step back and view or change any of the previously specified parameters. You can also use this button to recover a different pdf file.

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