Pruning "zombie" records from the tree

Tip version: 17.2

Revision date: 12 May 2001

Software versions: 5.2 and above

You can have "zombie" records in your family file. That is, records which are deleted from the database but which still show up in index lists. If you select the record from the list you will see the id number, but you cannot jump to that record as it no longer exists. Similarly, if you try to jump to it by going directly to that record number, it won't work.

This generally is not much of a problem, but the "zombie" records cause some confusion when they appear in the index lists and they also interfere with jumping from marked record to marked record. So how to get rid of them. The :"zombies" survive the "validate" process and index rebuilding.

Generations v5.2 and above does not have the user-invoked data checking option that was present under "advanced" options in "Remove/Delete" in Generations v4.2 and earlier with the various Reunion for Windows releases, so one can't try that.

It turns out that one can remove them by marking the records on the index list, then use the "Delete Marked Records" option.

***** WARNING ****** WARNING ****** WARNING ******

This a very powerful and DANGEROUS option!!


Second, before you mark these records, CHECK THAT NOTHING ELSE IS MARKED!!!!

If you have anything marked because you have been working on it recently or for other reasons, that data will be lost also! Once you have checked and double-checked that you have a GOOD backup and that nothing else is marked, go ahead and mark the "zombie" records you want removed using the index list. Then go to the File menu and down to the Delete People selection. Pick the Delete Marked Records option.

***** CAUTION *****

After you have deleted the "zombies" make sure that you didn't make any mistakes before you proceed to work with the data file and discard your backup copy. If you do any extensive amount of work in the data file and then decide or discover that you made a mistake, it is awkward to take the new additions and revisions you have done and put them back into your original file restored from the backup.

Generations v8 observations - recovering and examining data from the zombies

The "match/merge" feature of the v8 software offers an interesting and probably unintended feature. If you have zombie records in the datafile and run a match/merge with the criteria set to match the data for the zombie records, the zombie (deleted) records will be found and may be merged into existing records.

If you wish to examine the data in the zombie records, first make note of the record number of the zombie.

Second, create a new person with the names and dates to match the zombie in question.

Third, run a match/merge and merge in the record with the ID# of the zombie. You will now have all of the data from the zombie in the extra event/fact/notes fields of the combined (newly created in step 2) individual. You may then examine the data and decide to keep it or discard it. Almost all of my tests using this procedure have shown that the data was in fact correctly deleted. The zombie status was due to the incorrect rebuilding of the index for whatever reason.

The Generations v8.5/8.5.1 release changed the method of building and rebuilding the index. This resulted in much faster operations and also in significantly fewer "zombie" errors in the index.

Regards, Mike Hobart

Copyright © 1999-2001 Michael A. Hobart, commercial reuse restricted.

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