These messages are invariably the result of missing data set files, usually MASTER.AVI, rarely PLACES.AVI. The cause is usually a power off, power failure or some other disruption while AviSys is updating the Master Checklist.

The Solution:

See "Using Windows Explorer," below.

With AviSys not running, using Windows Explorer *** or (My) Computer, look at the files in the data set folder, either your only data set or the one missing in your File menu. That will be under C:\AVI6 or the equivalent if you chose a different path during installation. The path will then be C:\AVI6\DATA, or something like C:\AVI6\JOHN, or whatever you named your data set at installation. Among those files, you should see MASTER.AVI, PLACES.AVI,MASTER.BKP,PLACES.BKP.

If MASTER.AVI is missing, that is your problem right-click MASTER.BKP and select Rename. Rename it to MASTER.AVI. (If PLACES.AVI is the missing file, do the equivalent.) Then restart AviSys.

HINT: If you are using a laptop, if AviSys is running and you have updated any data, close AviSys (and any database program) before flipping the cover closed. Laptops vary in exactly what they do when you do that.


These errors are virutally always the result of AviSys data files being locked by another program, typically an "automatic" backup program installed (possibly unknown to you) by an external USB hard drive, or by a memory overwrite by another program when AviSys is running.

The Solution:

With AviSys running, click Utilities | Restructure Sighting File. Afterward, do Utilities | Certify Data Set Quality.

YOU GET A "Life list and checklist incompatible" MESSAGE RUNNING A REPORT

This is not a failure or a bugit's a warning. If you invoke a checklist in the Report Criteris, but no Place, that says you are asking for all sightings anywhere ([ALL] in the Place entry), but only of species that exist in the invoked checklist. As a famous pointy-eared alien said, "That is not logical." Think about it . . .


At the splash window, click ONCE on the image of the humingbird (you have 5 seconds). AviSys will go into a special data recovery operation. (A double-click on the hummer will open an Easter Egg)


(Remember that the taxonomy update is not applied, and cannot be applied, until all exceptions are resolved and the "Update Master Checklist . . . " menu item is disabled by the update facility. Also remember that each taxonomy update includes all the prior years' updates.)

IMPORTANT: Read the update instructions, on both the download web page and the update instructions, such as Changes14.PDF, which was presented at the update install. FOLLOW THOSE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY not doing so caused a majority of support calls for the updates.

A computer program wouldn't dare automatically change your sightings that's just too dangerous because a program can't possibly know which species you actually saw. So AviSys isn't crazy enough to try to do it automatically. Your involvement is required.

First, consult the PDF documentaton provided by Cornell, which can be found at Utilities | View Readme . . . or Utilities | View user . . .

If there is not a solution to your exception in that documentation, invariably a search in Wikipedia or Google, will provide the answer, or a clue good enough for you to figure out what's going on.

Generally, clearing exceptions is not a difficult task if the user is updating from the prior taxonomy. Issues get complicated when the user has not updated taxonomy for several years we have helped users who had taxonomies as old as 19 years ago. In such cases, the user is advised to simply relax and take exceptions one at a time, possibly in several sessions, until done. The more you do, the better and quicker you become. Yes, it can be a big job if only we could control those crazy taxonomists!

Remember the option as described in the instructions to park troublesome exception sighting records until they can be resolved.


Well, this is a big subject. Generally, we expect that all AviSys users do frequent backups to external hard drives or flash drives after all, it's a 10 second job and AviSys nags you frequently to do it. (Unfortunately, not all users back up often, or at all.)

If you have been backing up from within AviSys, your backups are .AVZ files, for Version 6, or .ZIP files for Versions 4 or 5. They contain all your sighting records, taxonomy, Places Tables, etc. And if you had selected "Back up entire folder," everything in the selected data set folder, whether vital or not, is there. You could install AviSys on the new computer (or repaired old one) and do Utilities | Restore Data pointing at your backup file, to get you to exactly where you were at the last backup.

HOWEVER, there are usually better options. In almost all cases of a complete computer suicide, AviSys, and most of your other data, sits there on the hard drive in good shape, albeit useless in that context. Let's say you took your computer to a local "expert." The expert would likely say it's hopeless, you you need to start over with a new or repaired computer meaning a new, blank hard drive. The first thing you should ask is, can the expert retrieve the C:\AVI6 folder (or whatever you named it at install) and whatever other important stuff you have? Most professionals have equipment to at least try. If the expert says, without removing the drive to try, "The drive is unreadable," that means, frequently, he has earned his $160, or whatever he charged you, and he isn't interested in trying to make your life easier. That doesn't mean a drive is never unreadable, it just suggests that this expert doesn't care and a second opinion is in order. There is a huge variety of computer services some have depth of knowledge, capability and diligence, some really care others . . . (Recovery from laptop drives can be problematical.)

With the AVI6 folder, you would have exactly the same AviSys sytem you had on the old computer. Just do a shortcut to AVISYS60.EXE and away you go.

Example, this week I just had an HP workstation running Win XP die; Windows would not start. 500GB of highly important data on two SATA hard drives is unreachable on the computer (the most vital data was backed up). At Amazon I bought a Sabrent USB 3.0 SATA/IDE device for $35.00. It now sits attached to my Windows 7 computer and I am systematically transferring data from those drives.

A "hard drive recovery service" would charge hundreds, or even thousands for that kind of recovery. Their services should be reserved for truly screwed up hard drives that need sector-by-sector work.


*** Using Windows Explorer: Some of these solutions require that you use the Windows file manager, typically called Windows Explorer or (My) Computer, depending on your flavor (and sub-flavor) of Windows. These instructions are generalizations. The many flavors of Windows all seem to try to make things different. View these instructions with an open mind and you will easily figure out what to do in your environment.

In Windows | All Programs, find the folder (group) Accessories. In it find Windows Explorer. Right-click it, select Send To | Desktop (create shortcut). Windows Explorer will appear on your desktop. Start it.

In Windows Explorer select the menu item View, and then select Details. This is the best mode for what you will be doing now.

Select the menu item Tools | Folder Options. In the dialog, select the View tab, and then find the item "Hide extensions for known file types." UNcheck that item. Select Apply and OK. Now you will be able to see the file extensions such as .AVI.

In Windows Explorer, you typically need to find the C: drive. In some flavors of Windows, it can get a little busy sometimes the C: drive is located under a second entry called Desktop, and then under an entry called Computer. It will look something roughly like OS(C:) --- the "C:" is the clue. Next to that entry you'll see a + sign or a "delta" symbol; click it, and the folder contents of C drive will drop down. You are looking for your AviSys installation, which by default is at C:\AVISYS, unless you changed it when you did the installation.