User’s Guide — LinkFixer Advanced
Chapter 1 — Introduction
In the “old days”, renaming, moving or re-pathing files or folders didn’t create any major problems — we just used the DOS rename command or Windows Explorer to make the changes and everything was fine (most of the time). These days, however, many different types of files such as Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and PDF files include links that point to other files.
If one or more of those linked files are renamed or moved, such as a GIF graphics file, then Microsoft Excel, web browsers, or other applications will consider the file to be “missing” or report that the link to it is broken. As a result, the linked files will not be displayed, the document will not be able to use the linked files, or the information originally provided by the now-missing linked file will become out of date.
While a single missing file and a single broken link may not be a problem to manually find and fix, what if there were 1,000, 100,000, or even 1,000,000 linked files that may have been renamed or perhaps even moved from one location to another? That could mean 1,000, 100,000 or even 1,000,000 broken links. Now that would be a problem!
LinkFixer Advanced to the Rescue
What if you could find those missing files and automatically correct all the broken links so that Microsoft Excel, web browsers, or other applications can correctly display and use them? This is just one of the many valuable features available using LinkFixer Advanced!
How and When to Use LinkFixer Advanced
The best time to use LinkFixer Advanced is before moving any of your files, while the links are still working. For example, if your company is planning to move its documents into a document management system such as SharePoint, the best time to use LinkFixer Advanced is before moving any files. LinkFixer Advanced can protect the working links in your files so that they can be automatically repaired after they are broken by the move. Or LinkFixer Advanced can move the files itself using its Move/Rename process, while automatically preserving each of the working links as it moves each file.
On the other hand, LinkFixer Advanced can also be of tremendous assistance if you have already moved or renamed your files — and broken their links in the process. In many cases, LinkFixer Advanced can fix the links that are already broken, using the Modify Links process. All you have to do is supply a list of the changes that occurred in the file names and locations when the files were moved. LinkFixer Advanced can then use the same patterns to automatically repair the broken links in one or more batches, saving time, money, effort — and maybe even someone’s job.
There are a few words that you will need to know to best understand how to use LinkFixer Advanced. Please take a few minutes to read the following definitions and the accompanying examples:
- A parent file is a file that contains one or more links that point to some other file or files.
- A child file is a file that is pointed to by a link in a parent file.
- A link is a connection from one file to another file.Specifically, a link is the information contained in a parent file that connects it to a child file. A link tells your computer what child file to display or to collect data from and where to find that child file. A link may point to the whole child file, or it may point to something specific inside the child file, like a range of spreadsheet cells or certain text.
Example: If the file “Finance.xls” contained a link pointing to the file “Chart.xls”, then “Finance.xls” would be the parent file and “Chart.xls” would be the child file. As you can see in the graphic below, the link contains the data needed to 1) find the correct file, 2) fetch a pie chart from within that child file, and then 3) display it in the parent file.
Example: If the Microsoft Word file “Report.doc” contained a link to the graphics file “Graphic.bmp”, then the file “Report.doc” would be the parent file and the “Graphic.bmp” graphics file would be the child file. In this case, the link is instructing the computer to find a specific graphics file and pull a particular picture from that file and then display it in the parent file.
Whether it’s fetching graphics, text, account numbers, financial figures, or it would open a web page when clicked on, you always have these three fundamental elements involved: a parent file containing a link that defines a connection to a specific child file.
What, Really, Is a “Broken Link”?
Broken Link — A link that is pointing to a file or a location which is not found. (Additionally, a link can be broken because it points to a specific location inside a file that is not found, even if the file itself is found. For example, when an Excel worksheet is renamed or deleted, breaking links to that worksheet or to a location inside that worksheet.)
When a link gets “broken”, most of the time the cause is one of the following:
- Someone moved, renamed or deleted the child file that the link points to.
- Someone moved or renamed the folder or drive containing the child file.
- The child file is stored someplace (like a network drive) that is not currently accessible.
In short, the location defined in the link no longer points to the child file, so the link is broken (temporarily or permanently).
To fix a broken link manually you have to:
- Find the new location of the child file.
- Ensure you have the correct child file — the exact one to which the link should be pointed, not some other similar file and not the wrong version of the file.
- Open the “guts” of the parent file.
- Find the exact link in that parent file.
- Modify the data in the link so it includes the new, correct path to the child file.
- Save and close the parent file.
The above procedure is lengthy but manageable if you are only dealing with a couple of dozen broken links. But what if you have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of links that became broken (or will be broken) during some sort of data migration or file system restructuring? Now we are talking hundreds (if not thousands) of man-hours to fix manually. Fixing broken links manually tends to take orders of magnitude more time than breaking those links by migrating them in the first place. This is where LinkFixer Advanced comes in.
Plus, what if there were a way to protect your links from this situation in the first place? If you could do that, you would not need to know where a child file got moved or how its path may have changed. By using LinkFixer Advanced, you don’t need to know any of the details about what happened to all your child files — and you can still have your links fixed automatically.
One of the primary features of LinkFixer Advanced is its unique ability to automatically maintain links when moving or renaming files in batch. Additionally, using LinkFixer Advanced, you can safeguard working links in parent files so they can automatically be repaired should they become broken in the future. Here’s how the automatic link repair process works:
If you have another application that you need to use to do your migration or make the changes to your naming convention, you can still protect your links and make handling them a snap, by using LinkFixer Advanced’s Inoculate & Cure process.
First, use the Inoculate process to safeguard all of the working (healthy) links in your parent files, which point to other child files.
Next, using Windows Explorer (or some other program such as RoboCopy), you can rename some or all of your parent or child files and even move some or all of them to different folders. You can rename them to anything you want and move them to any location on your system that you want.
Then, to ensure that all of the links in your parent files are updated so that none of them are broken as a result of the renaming or moving of the files, you would run the Cure process. All of your parent files will be updated automatically so that all of their links once again point to the renamed or moved child files.
And if you move or rename parent or child files using the Move/Rename process of LinkFixer Advanced, then your job is already done. All of the link information contained in the selected parent files is automatically updated when the parent and child files are moved or renamed.
Using LinkFixer Advanced, you can move or rename your parent and child files without having to worry about “breaking” links in your parent files.
But what if you (or someone) already made a bunch of changes to your file system and broke lots of links? Is there anything that can be done to recover missing files (repair links) and without spending hundreds of man-hours?
You can use LinkFixer Advanced’s powerful Modify process to accomplish bulk changes to as many links as you like, all in one go.
What else can LinkFixer Advanced do?
LinkFixer Advanced is a very powerful program. In addition to its ability to automatically maintain links when moving or renaming files in batch, LinkFixer Advanced also gives you several very useful capabilities and features, detailed below.
- Automatically Safeguarding Links
Safeguard healthy links in parent files, allowing them to be automatically fixed when they become broken.
Fix broken links in safeguarded parent files automatically.
Generate a broken link report listing all parent files containing broken links, so they can be fixed before causing problems.
Generate a regular report listing each parent file followed by a list of the child files it links to.
Generate a cross-reference report listing each linked file followed by a list of all the parent files that point to it.
Report whether a file is being pointed to by any parent file anywhere on a user’s system, thereby letting the user know whether the file is safe to delete.
Perform sophisticated global search and replace operations on links contained in large batches of parent files with a single command.
In short, if you use links in your files, then you need LinkFixer Advanced.