All of student's drawings disappeared when she tried to "save as" to a USB drive. It also erased the source location's drawings!

We checked the computer and USB drive for any sign of the drawing files, but all that was left was an earlier version. Why did Harmony erase all of her drawings and lose a days work like that, and how can this be avoided in the future?

She was working on a PC Windows machine and Harmony 15.

What was left on the timeline was the frame structure (the timing of the exposures that had been there), but no .tvg files in the drawings folder on the USB drive or internal drive.

Thank you so much for the thoughts on this issue, Araya. I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone, for one.

Also thanks again for the advice based on your experience and understanding of the way the software functions. I will share your advice with the students.

I’m really curious also if someone from Toon Boom could weigh in here, this seems like a significant issue that stems from the way the software is written. I have never used a program before that can potentially destroy your work when you go to save it! This seems like a major issue.

To be fair, it had always functioned for me. Maybe some student home computers are too slow to save the project materials and then they are simply corrupted? Still, corrupting entire files upon saving is very bad, and seems like something that should be fixed.

I have also had issues with students working remotely. The most common issue I have seen is project folders lacking various subfolders. The most common issue is the elements folder will not have any of the drawing subfolders in it or not exist at all, but I have seen other subfolders or files missing from the main project folder.

Students typically report that the project is intact when they save, but notice the corruption upon reopening. With informal troubleshooting, it appears that Harmony keeps all the project info in RAM until a Save command is executed, when everything is written (or updated) to disk. My guess is something may be interfering with the write process.

One of the things we did with in-person teaching was to use a policy of never working on a network drive or a USB thumb drive. The reasons being some thumb drives have very slow read/write speeds, and interruptions in network traffic may affect writing project files.

I’ve expanded this for remote work. I recommend students do not work from or save directly to any folder using a sync’d service, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. The worst offender seems to be OneDrive. Always save to a local internal drive.

The other recommendation is to always compress project folders to a .zip or other archived file before transferring remotely. I’ve had frequent issues with incomplete or corrupted transfers or syncing of uncompressed folder structures. Using Harmony’s File>Backup Scene… function is a nice one-step solution for this.

In short: work local, save zipped, copy the zip file to the synced folder or final destination.

Despite this, I still have a few issues in each class, and with each student having a unique remote setup, there are too many variables for a single diagnosis. I always start with how and where are projects being saved and try to identify any breakdown with the elements folder not being written completely.

Hello, I’m still attempting to teach students using Harmony, but now remotely on whatever their various home hardware set ups are. I’ve had at least three different students tell me that out of no where when opening their Harmony files, they are corrupted and all work lost just this fall. I know you may be thinking this is some student excuses, but this keeps happening regularly, and as you can see above, it was happening in person too.

Does anyone out there have any advice at all, or explanation for why this software is destroying whole projects? Like, it doesn’t just mess them up a little, but apparently makes them disappear? Maybe they are recoverable?

Obviously I’m not going to be able to provide specifics from what ever my students have going on on their home computers, but if there is general experience out there with this I would love to hear some advice. What are they doing wrong? Or what is the software doing wrong?

One way would be to use Save As A New Version for every session, saving this updated version to the hard drive. You would eventually have the project saved in increments as it has been developed.
Avoid saving a working project file from the running software directly to any portable media.
Instead, just prior to generating a copy to place on portable media use Save A New Version with something designating it as the one intended for the portable media (even “file name date PM”) then once the software is closed collect the project files/folders from the working drive and drag them to the portable media.

If you must save a project directly from the running software make sure that you use Save As A New Version to the hard drive first then do Save As A New Version to the portable media after you have a version saved to the hard drive safe and sound in case anything goes wrong.

Thank you for the reply. I will offer this advice to all the students about not saving an open working file to a portable drive, beyond what I already tell them about making regular back-ups and incremental saved versions.

This is an interesting distinction that I hadn’t appreciated before: Menu items “Save As” vs “Save as New Version”:

https://forums.toonboom.com/toon-boom-animate-family/support-and-troubleshooting/save-as-new-version

Save as New Version will make a new .xstage file in the project directory but still share the drawing assets with previous versions (so new edits to existing drawings will also appear in older versions, as they share assets). So Save As (to make a complete new copy of the whole directory for back up or truly incremental saves of progress) is still the function that I would want personally, and what my student was trying to achieve.

The issue seems like a major one. One that Toon Boom should know about: an ordinary menu item that sometimes erases all of your work when you are trying to save it. haha!

Bumping this. Having the same issue in Windows 10 with Harmony 15.0.5 with multiple students working on projects to discover that there is no Elements folder written to disk.

I tested this on a workstation with two internal drives.

First, saved to a D: drive setup for temp storage of files:

  • Using “Save As” at the root level of the D: drive, no project folder structure was written at all. Multiple attempts.
  • Using “Save As” to a folder on D: created in File Explorer, a project folder was written with only an .xstage file and Environments folder, or sometimes an empty Elements folder.

Then switched to C:/users//Documents, and a correct project folder structure was created using Save As.

This happens inconsistently. Until trying this test, I was able to Save As to the D: drive from the open application with no write issues. Now it happens regularly.

You should not save directly to a USB drive.
USB drives do not have the performance to keep
up with all the files generated by a typical animation
project.

Instead save to a location on the internal hard drive and
then zip the project folder to move it to a USB drive.

I am seeing this behavior when saving to internal drives.

What would cause incomplete project saves to an internal HDD?

This is not an isolated incident, but has happened on multiple workstations (HP Z-series) with clean system installs a month old.

Thank you rkriz of the Toon Boom team for replying to this issue. I understand now that I should advise students not to Save As to a removable drive.

But could you address the main issue, which is, when my student did that, it not only did not save correctly on the USB drive, but ERASED all of the drawings in the already saved version that was on the computer’s internal hard drive. To state it again, my student had the project saved on the computer, then attempted to Save As onto her USB drive to take with her. When she did that, Harmony erased all of her drawings from the already saved version on the internal drive, and saved a copy on the USB drive with no drawings as well.

The main point here is that the Save As function will potentially erase your project, which is crazy.

I can’t think of any mechanism whereby using “save as”
to save a Harmony project to a USB drive would erase
drawings from the original project still located on the
internal hard drive.

There must be more to this story. Please have the
student contact support to investigate this.

I have been having the exact same problem. It happens quite regularly. Student hits “save”, dialog window appears stating either that document cannot be saved or lists all the layers that could not be saved. When i check the elements folder, all drawings are gone (even though they were there before saving)

I have two solution s that are not very optimal:
1:. While document i tried to save is still opened, its contents still appear to be there. So I painstakingly copy each drawing object into other opened toon boom document, save it and hope it doesnt do the same thing.
2: Putting entire timeline into library before saving (If i did it after saving, the symbol would be just blank frames), and in the next session student pulls all drawing from the library, so he can continue his work.

Both solutions are really annoying, and i would like to just save normally. There may be some problem in our schools computers, so im gonna discuss this issue with our school tech support guys. Anyway, if there is some standard tried and true solution for this problem, I´d welcome it.

Remember when you create a new scene, the location you select/define is the first place you have to save, or you will have issues. Network or local storage/usb/sd/etc. should not matter, but the faster the better. Also Harmony does not like saving to the root of a drive/device, make a folder first to save your scenes into. Internet/cloud storage is another matter. Zip your scene folder first then upload to the net. Remember to make back-ups.