Failure to open a data file - "That is not a valid ShoWorks data file, would you like to try again?"

Article ID: 116005
Category: File Maintenance
Date Added: 7/13/2005
Date Updated: 7/21/2019


When opening a known ShoWorks file, you receive a message that reads "That is not a valid ShoWorks data file, would you like to try again?" or a message that your data file has become corrupt.


The data file has become corrupted.  File corruption is a rare event but not uncommon when your data file experiences an interruption when reading/writing data.


In most cases, a corrupt file can be repaired (see below).

Database programs such as ShoWorks, QuickBooks, etc. keep a continuous connection to the data file. This is unlike most other programs such as Word, Excel, etc. that load a copy of your data into "memory" when you use them.  Because you have a direct and "live" connection with your data file at all times while the program is open, you do not have to save your work.  However this continuous open connection to your data file leaves your data file subject to corruption if the connection is interrupted unexpectedly .  This would be similar to bumping a CD player while it is playing a CD.

Common reasons for file interruption and data corruption are:

  • If a computer was abruptly turned off while reading/writing to the ShoWorks data file.
    • Power outage
    • Power surge
    • Overriding exiting the program with Ctrl-Alt-Del
  • A small, otherwise unrecognizable interruption in the network communications.
    • Poor quality network hardware (faulty router, switch, hub).
    • Networking cables receiving interference from nearby power sources.
    • A network overload or abnormally high network traffic.
    • Wi-Fi is not supported. All connections must be hardwired.
    • Multiple switches are not supported. Use only one switch.
    • More information on networking can be found here.  
  • Hard drive failure
    • Slow hard drive, commonly found on low-end laptops (and some desktops) and not recommended for intense data usage.
    • Faulty hard drive (bad sectors, etc.)
  • Cloud sharing the folder where your data file is located
    • Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, etc. are not supported. This is because they continuously read/write sync information which is not fast enough for database file shares. Make certain that the location where your data file is stored, is not active with one of these cloud sync services.


  • Use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).  This is a battery backup for your computer and is strongly recommended for all computers.  In addition to providing protections during power outages, a UPS protects against micro power interruptions that often are unnoticeable yet can cause damage.
  • Avoid leaving ShoWorks open or unattended while away from your computer for extended periods of time.
  • Investigate your network hardware and/or data server quality if corruption occurs over more than one computer.
  • Investigate your computer hardware and/or hard drive quality on the problematic computer if corruption occurs on only one computer.
  • Investigate the location where you store your ShoWorks data files and make certain that the machine does not have the location mapped to any of the cloud file backup services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.
  • Make regular backups of your data file.


More common than not, a corrupted data file can be repaired. You can attempt to do this yourself within ShoWorks by selecting File>Utilities>Compact Data File. If this is not successful, you can send a copy of the corrupt file to Gladstone and we will be glad to attempt to repair the file at no charge. Once a file is repaired you should use caution and make constant backups of your data until the source of the corruption can be identified and corrected.

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