Error occurred when renaming files

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Aborted collection Rename can be fixed easily, but requires utmost caution


Mateus wrote, May 2, 2017:

I have two collections. I opened the first one and chose File : Tools : Rename. The new name was defined as "Jur - 2 - Mateus - Simple" and everything went fine. Easy as a piece of cake, so I proceeded to the next collection.

After opening it, I repeated the steps above (Rename). However, due to a lapse of attention, I renamed it to "Jur - 2 - Mateus - Hard" ("2" is the error). Following the same steps (Rename), I tried to rename it to "Jur - 1 - Mateus - Hard". Suddenly, a new (and dreadful) yellow dialog box appeared, containing the following:

Error occurred when renaming files
Please copy ALL moved files manually back to the original location
SuperMemo will close now!

The question is simple: What should I do to ensure data integrity? I want to make clear that I never moved any files, manually or otherwise, before or after the events here described; besides, using File : Tools : Rename was my only relevant action while SuperMemo was in use.


Do not run SuperMemo!. SuperMemo always tries to restore missing files, which in this case could lead to further confusion.

The recovery should be successful if you are very careful. However, a tiny error can lead to a disaster. Rename renames all files one by one. If an error occurs (e.g. due to a locked file, or trying to open the collection while in rename), you may end up with two partial collections: OldName and NewName. The trick is to reassemble the two under another name, e.g. ThirdName.

For example, you could copy all files OldName->ThirdName and all fiels NewName to ThirdName. This way you will get ThirdName complete. You must make sure the names are correct, all folder structures are copied, and you do not move or rename files to make sure OldName and NewName stayed unchanged (for safety).

If you are not to fluent with files and folders, a full backup of both parts of the collection would be highly welcome before you begin.

If you fear making an error, you can upload the collection for help.

When executed correctly, the whole operation should take as little as the time to copy the collection.

Follow up: Where are my files?

I'm sad that such a little error could lead to a potential 'disaster', but I will not refrain from expressing my gratitude for SuperMemo's quick support.

My only doubt is: how should I 'copy all files' and 'be sure' that 'all names are correct', etc?

Else, if necessary, what should I upload? Looking at my main folder ("C:\SuperMemo\systems"), I do not find any subfolder for the "Jur - 1 - Mateus - Hard". There is only a .kno file; both the folder and the .kno file for "Jur - 2 - Mateus - Hard" are currently displayed at the directory above.

Reply: Names are essential for success

precise directory structure

If you have problems with locating the files, it is vital that you specify all names as precisely as possible. Please list all files in C:\SuperMemo\systems (e.g. as a screenshot). You need to provide full names (e.g. .kno can easily be understood as a file with no name, as *.kno, or as file with a name of the collection in context; directory above is relative and adds to ambiguity).

this advice is hazy

You cannot take this advice literally as it is based on your description and incomplete understanding. Do not take any action until you are sure there is no error in communication.

It seems in your case:

  • old name: Jur - 2 - Mateus - Hard
  • new name: Jur - 1 - Mateus - Hard
  • the folder for the new name has not be created, which indicates the abort occurred early

If you are sure you have a full backup of all files and they have all been located in c:\supermemo\systems, it may appear that all you need to do is to re-open the old name collection as no files have been moved. However, it is possible that, at Rename, you mistakenly provided some name out of the supermemo\systems folder and your files have been moved there. If Jur - 2 - Mateus - Hard (old name) does not open correctly, you will have to restore the entire folder back to original status.

If you have any doubt, you should rather provide the full listing of all your files in c:\supermemo\systems and make edits to all texts above to make 100% sure the communication carries no error.


You have two basic options:

  • upload your entire c:\supermemo\systems to the cloud (e.g. as a zip archive) to receive help
  • back up and send the list of files in c:\supermemo\systems (with exact naming at hand, you can get precise instructions)

(sending all files "as is" to any location for backup purposes would be valuable on its own to secure the data)

minor error vs big disaster

Only a good backup is a sure way to prevent problems. One byte flipped on a disk may result in your computer never starting up, or Windows never loading, or your zip file getting corrupted. Rename in SuperMemo is fast, but only Copy keeps one unchanged version of the collection at all times.