Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost

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1 year 7 months ago #134357 by jskeesick
jskeesick created the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
OK, I've been using limesurvey off and on for several years now and last night I had my first fatal problem....

I have been working on a survey with about 70 questions, give or take, dispersed over 3 pages. There were about 7 'profiles' to the survey (profiles = the selection of questions you get depending on an initial selection made). Not terribly complex, but not a 30 minute job by any stretch either.... So, I built it, began to test it and sent it out to my team to review and QC it.

All seemed well until the next morning. One person asked if I had taken it off-line as he couldn't get to it any longer and as I was working on a reporting engine for it, I thought I might of and simply forgot. I said yes, went back to the LS admin to turn it back on. It was in fact inactive, BUT, more importantly, it no longer contained any questions whatsoever. The first page (the bio page) was gone completely, the first page of actual questions was there, but empty. The last page wasn't there at all either. Nothing. I had an entry that one of the QC team had put in, and they had collected some screen shots while they were working through it, so I know it was up and working well at one point, but now, there's nothing there.

Suffice to say I'm not particularly pleased, not just because I have hours of work to redo (I didn't backup the survey since it was just at the initial build state, and because of my years of experience with LS, I didn't feel I needed to do that ..... sadly I was wrong), the real issue is the fear I now have that something like this might happen again. I use LS for on-site opinion collection during live field events. Lots of people are flown into an area, spend a week beating the hell out of a piece of equipment, and flying back out. Sudden inexplicable losses of entire surveys won't go over well, and I have no idea how this happened.

I have looked into the database and it seems that all the questions are still there in the question table. Obviously there is another table that somehow got corrupted and the link of which questions belong to this survey is lost. While it would be great to reconnect things, I suspect that approach would be tedious, haphazard and likely unreliable and I'll just rebuild from scratch. I would like to know if anyone here might hazard to guess what might have caused the issue and see if this has happened to anyone else. I'll become more vigilant with my backups of course (used to just do an pre-flight backup of the survey and daily backups of the results tables) but I'd like to avoid this happening again. I'd rather not move away from LS as it is much more flexible solution that the alternatives, but obviously I can't have this sort of thing happening.

Sorry for the long explanation, just wanting to cover all bases.... speaking of, I'm running Version 2.06+ Build 160129

Thanks for your input.

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1 year 7 months ago #134380 by jelo
jelo replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost

jskeesick wrote: I have looked into the database and it seems that all the questions are still there in the question table. Obviously there is another table that somehow got corrupted and the link of which questions belong to this survey is lost.

Who is Administrator for the web-server and the database server? To me this looks more like a issue with the database. Since you're on LS 2.06 you might consider to update on the LTS version but I don't remember any bug that could cause that kind of issues.

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1 year 7 months ago #134382 by jskeesick
jskeesick replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
Certainly a reasonable suggestion, but I am the db admin and there are no other apps currently running on the database. Certainly the 'anything is possible' mantra is out there, but at this time I can't think of any possible outside issue that would cause this issue. That said, I can't figure out what would happen with LS to cause this issue either. I did check my other surveys and they all seem to be fine (not currently running / collecting surveys, just previous surveys I have built) I would think a db issue would of perhaps corrupted a specific table that associates questions to a particular db, not items from one particular db. Also, the presence of one page of my survey (out of 3) is very strange, and inconsistent with a corrupt table.

I don't know, it's all (frustrating) guesswork at this point.

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1 year 7 months ago #134404 by Mazi
Mazi replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
I have never heard of such a problem either... a very weird situation.

A broken DB table seems to be the best explanation. It could also be a partially re-stored DB backup (did you receive any emails about server maintenance going on or a DB being restored?).

One last solution you can try is copying the broken survey. If you are very lucky it may fix the missing references of the questions but I doubt that.
You probably have to create most of this from scratch. It is the most reliable way to make sure there will be no problems at survey runtime.


Best regards/Beste Grüße,
Dr. Marcel Minke
(Limesurvey Head of Support)
Need Help? We offer professional Limesurvey support
Contact: marcel.minke(at)survey-consulting.com'"

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1 year 7 months ago #134449 by DenisChenu
DenisChenu replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
The group for each question exist in Group table ?

Assistance on LimeSurvey forum and LimeSurvey core development are on my free time.
I'm not a LimeSurvey GmbH member, professional service on demand (or search sondages pro).
An error happen ? Before make a new topic : remind the Debug mode .

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1 year 7 months ago #134601 by jskeesick
jskeesick replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
I wasn't able to track the issue down, and simply rebuilt the whole survey. However, shortly before the rebuild I got notified that our server had just completed it's migration to a new box..... (I wasn't informed that this process was starting) So, the working theory is that it had to do with the DB migration, and that a table got corrupted during this transfer. That still isn't a completely satisfactory answer as it seems strange that it would only effect one survey... but nothing else makes much sense (and it's now rebuilt) so we're going with that.

Thanks for the thoughts on the matter.

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1 year 7 months ago #134614 by holch
holch replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
Well, if the migration process of the database started while you were working on the survey, I can imagine this could happen.

It still sounds fairly strange but I had never heard of anything similar here in the forum. This doesn't mean it can't be a bug in Limesurvey, but it makes it more unlikely.

I'm not a LimeSurvey GmbH member. I answer at the LimeSurvey forum in my spare time. No support via private message.
Some helpful links: Manual (EN) | Question Types | Workarounds

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1 year 7 months ago #134643 by jskeesick
jskeesick replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost
True, the survey was fully ducting for an afternoon at least though. It could be they took a snapshot at one point in the dev and the transferred that incomplete db. However the questions still exist in the db, they just aren't tired to the survey any longer.

At this point it's all speculation s the survey is rebuilt. The situation does make me a bit nervous though, which is a shame as I have otherwise had very good experience with LS... and it may have nothing to do with the software. In the airport now headed out to the effect to use this survey, so fingers cross, no matter where the problem came from, that it was a one off.

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1 year 7 months ago #134649 by jelo
jelo replied the topic: Survey suddenly empty - All questions lost

jskeesick wrote: However, shortly before the rebuild I got notified that our server had just completed it's migration to a new box..... (I wasn't informed that this process was starting)

It really depends on the kind of technology used on your server and what kind of migration has been done. E.g. your installation is in a virtual machine the migration might had no impact on the database tables or Limesurvey.

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