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Monday, June 16, 2008

11,725 Duplicate Events 

Roughly two weeks ago, I downloaded the latest Apple OS upgrade to MacDreamy.

Sometimes, this proves to be a very big mistake.

For the second time that I've done this over the past 6 months, this upgrade did something very, very bad to my calendar.

First of all, you have to know that I use the Calendar in Entourage as my main calendar. (I also use Entourage as my main email, contact and notes app.) I've been using one form-or-another of Entourage ever since I met Dick more than 9 years ago. (It used to be Outlook Express for the Mac).

So, let's remember: I have more than 9 years worth of data in this Calendar/Email program.

You can just see where this is going, can't you?

Here's where it gets loopy:

All was fine and well with me and my Entourage Calendar for the first 8+ years. We had a very nice relationship. I was able to track all of my events, birthdays, and my hours for various clients, and even got to color-code each one, which makes generating invoices much easier.

Last year, I bought my iPhone. One of the main reasons I wanted it was so that I could easily sync my calendar and contacts from my computer to my phone (and vise-versa).

In order to do this, I had to turn on Apple Sync to take my calendar events from Entourage and create a new calendar in iCal (Apple's calendar). This was fine: I had two copies of my calendar: the first one was in Entourage, where I managed everything in my handy-dandy-do-it-all program. It was continuously synced with a second version of my calendar in iCal, which talked to my iPhone.

In theory, this all sounds fine.

...until something goes wrong.

...and when it goes wrong, it goes wrong to the tune of 11,725 duplicate events!


Yep, for the second time in the last 6 months, after I installed an OS upgrade to MacDreamy, the calendar sync went into overdrive, and decided to duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate, etc ALL of calendar entries from the past nine years.

This is where the nightmare began:
My first thought was to remove the duplicates manually from Entourage. I only focused on events from the last couple of years, just to clean it up. That took a couple of hours. That's when I realized how far back my calendar went, and the ridiculous amount of unnecessary data that was clogging up my computer.

Dick found a script written to take duplicate events out of Entourage. Brilliant, I thought! This should fix things up! After two days of running it (and rendering me unable to use Entourage at all) I had no idea how far at all it had gotten. I had to quit out of it so I could have access to my all-important email program again.

So, I went back to cleaning out my calendar by hand. I cleaned out about 5 years, figuring that was fairly substantial.

The next move: delete the Entourage Calendar Copy in iCal, then re-sync with the cleaned up calendar.

Dick ran through this step-by-step with me, because the last time I did this (a few months ago) I did it by myself, and the results were not good: it erased both of my calendars.

So, we deleted the calendar in iCal. Then we turned the AppleSync back on, and specifically told Entourage to sync to iCal, using the new data to create a new Calendar. Again, I have 9 years of data in my calendar - it took a while.

Once it was complete, I realized that it had AGAIN deleted all of my calendar events in both my iCal version AND my Entourage. I had no calendar events at all.

(insert: Trina Freaking Out here)

Luckily, I had been running Apple's Time Machine Application which makes back-up copies of all of your files.

We ended up deciding to restore the latest version of my iCal Calendar, figuring we could fix that, and eventually sync it back to Entourage. Dick warned me that I should probably stop using my Calendar in Entourage, and just start using iCal exclusively. He explained that this will probably continue to be a problem every few months, and that if I only used iCal, and take Entourage out of the equation, it would probably work just fine. I'm bummed because Entourage's Calendar is just so much more robust than iCal, and has so many nice little features that I use often.

Dick found (yet another) script online called "iCal Dupe Deleter" that we thought we'd try to get rid of all of the duplicate events in the iCal calendar.

Fine. Worth a Try.

Good news: it has a much better UI than the Entourage script - this one actually has a progress bar so you can see how far along it's going.

Bad news: It found a total of: 16,585 events in the calendar.

Of these, 11,725 were duplicates.

Good Grief!

This was last Monday afternoon. This script doesn't keep me from using any of my other programs, so I figured I'd just let it run it's course in the background until it was done.

Again, this was last Monday, June 9th.

Today is Monday, June 16th.

As of this moment, it has removed 6,851 duplicates. This is after running 24/7 for the past week.

At this rate, I'm hoping it'll be done by the end of this week, at which time I'll have to see if it worked, and I'll have to make some decisions.

In the meantime, I've been writing all of my billable client hours on a post-it pad on my desk. I also haven't been able to sync my iPhone to my computer for the past 2 weeks.

This is not the end of the world - I know it's better to have many-duplicates of my calendar info rather than having everything wiped out entirely. And I know it's just a calendar - there are worse types of data that could be wiped.

But still. I'm tired. At this rate, it'll take the entire month of June to get settled.


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Hi, I have the exact same situation happening right now. 23026 events, 14654 duplicates. The program has been running for 3 days and has deleted 3150 duplicates. When it finishes does it really work? I don't mind letting it go if it's actually going to work in the end. I'd love to hear how it all ended up for you. Janet N.
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