META: Save issues?

I've heard disturbing reports from AMS, Hammerknight, and a couple of other folks that after a Flash update, they lost all their saved files and now can no longer save characters between sessions. Has anything like that happened to you? If so, could you please post in comments with your browser version, operating system version, and Flash version (which you get by right-clicking on the HM3 app and choosing "About Flash Player" from the flyout)?

I'm really hoping Adobe didn't change something about the way they save Flash cookies in this latest release ...

This is a good time to remind you that, as with any piece of software, you should back up your characters on a regular basis to avoid catastrophic loss. There are now three ways to do so:

  1. Save the text string of your character to a file using the "Save as Text" option in HM3 and pasting the results into Notepad or Text Edit or Word or an email or whatever you like. This is the most secure.
  2. Find the hmcharacters.sol file on your hard drive and copy it into a directory you control. You can also make a backup copy of the .SOL files that Flash uses to save your guys. I’ll probably keep the old (current) alpha version β€œlive” for a little while under another name (so heromacine3a.swf or something). If I do that, then you should be able to go in and change the directory name where these .SOL files are kept to that name and still be able to access your characters:

    The saved Flash shared object library files (.sol for you Windows users) are LIKE cookies, but they are NOT actual cookies. They are not stored in the shared internet data files and will not be deleted if you erase all your cookies. You can only remove them by right-clicking on the movie, and going to Flash Settings, removing them there.

    In Windows it's at %AppData%MacromediaFlash Player#SharedObjects\www.heromachine.comhm3 where %AppData% is a variable leading to your browser.

    On a Mac they are in HD / User / / Library / Preferences / Macromedia / Flash Player / #SharedObjects / / / hm3 / heromachine3.swf / hmcharacters.sol

  3. Export your images as JPGs or PNGs. This doesn't enable you to live-edit them any more, but at least you'll have the images.

I hate to think of people losing their hard work, and I'm trying to do a bit of digging to see if anything changed with the latest Flash Player update or what.

Edited To Add: Sure enough, Adobe has implemented much easier methods of deleting "Flash cookies", which is what the HeroMachine save file is. You can get the details here. AMS identified the specific setting you need to change if you don't want all of your saved characters to be wiped out the next time you close your browser after installing the update, at least in Internet Explorer:

41 Responses to META: Save issues?

  1. TOOL says:

    something like that happened to me a while back where all my saves got lost and when i tried to save it wouldnt or it showed it did but when i left the page and came back they were gone but i havent had problems in a long time but the last charactef ri made was my cyborg ninja. ill take a look and let you know

  2. Quark says:

    Not related to this issue, but still… From time to time I notice how my character will move to the left whenever I try to download it, making me take a screencap to save it.
    Any reasons for this annoying (especially when I create “full landscapes”) behaviour?

  3. Kaldath says:

    I am not having any issues, not that I use the save feature often as I prefer to just take screen shoots instead, however the few saved characters I have are still there. For Reference purposes I am using the Google Chrome browser and Flash and I am running Windows XP.

  4. Hammerknight says:

    Jeff this could be stopped if we had the option in export to export text files of the character. I know that we can do that now by coping the text and paste it in a word program, but the export as text would be nice. We could save to our own computer, or even a flash drive and would be able to work on the character on other computers. I have always saved all my characters to my computer, but then you can not rework them later. Yes I’m lazy and copy and pasting the text takes some time.So a text file export would be great.
    Plus would love an offline version of HM3, but that’s just me.

  5. Watson Bradshaw says:

    I have had the problem with images all moving left, it especially happens while exporting the larger sized files, help us obi Jeff kenobi you’re our only hope

  6. mashlagoo says:

    I have had this happen as well.

    At the time I didn’t realize that the Flash update was the cause of the problem. But thinking back, I did lose all my work for a couple characters (everything I had saved on Hero Machine) after the update.

    OS: Windows 7
    Browser: IE9
    Flash Version:

  7. ams says:

    AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! To a comic collecter and a packrat(or the new expression today would be “hoarder”), this was a huge kick to the nuggets! I beilieve I will always save a texted file so this will not happen again. Whatever has happened, I can’t even save one file on the HM3 site anymore! I’ll save, close the window, reopen and WHAMMO, full uppercut to the beans! I did perform an update yesterday and that’s when it all went down. Stupid updates!

    I’m running OS: Windows 7
    Browser: IE9 (64-bit) which on trhe flash support site, might be a conflict?????
    FLASH version: (Now I know why its called FLASH, ’cause when you update it erases all your files in a FLASH!)

    Thanks for listening! (or reading, whatever…)

  8. Panner says:

    OS: Windows XP Pro
    Browser: Firefox 4
    Flash version:

    No problems here.

  9. HM says:

    this problem has happened to me before but that was when I was first really using HM3 and that was frustrating.Today I woke up to find that all of my creations have been deleted.This is beyond frustrating!

  10. Trekkie says:

    Hm. It seems I have the same version of Flash as mashlagoo and ams (, but all my files re still there. So now I’m going through the process of saving all the .txt files, just in case.

    If it helps:
    OS: Windows XP
    Browser: Google Chrome v.12 (I think)

  11. HM says:

    OS:windows vista
    Browser:Google chrome

  12. Jeff Hebert says:

    OK, some Googling has turned up this article, which explains that in the most recent Flash Player update (last month), .SOL files (which is what the character save file is) are now deleted whenever you delete cookies in your browser. From the bug reports above, it sounds like IE is the main culprit. Since I’m on a Mac I can’t really test that, but I would bet that in IE, the default is to delete cookies or to deny Flash storage, something like that. The article explains where to find the various settings in Windows if you can take a look and see if something is on there by default that you don’t want.

    Here’s the direct link in case you have trouble with the embedded one:

  13. Anarchangel says:

    I had this issue a while back and mentioned it then.

    The characters I was creating at the time simply wouldn’t save and then suddenly all my previous saves vanished. I haven’t had any issues at all with saving since then though.

    I’m using Google Chrome on Windows XP now and was using the same back then.

  14. Doornik1142 says:

    I haven’t had this specific issue (like Jeff I use a Mac so maybe that’s the reason) but I have had a different issue. Sometimes when I’m in the process of building a character HM3 just slooooooowwwwssss down on me for no apparent reason. When I move my mouse over a piece it sometimes takes a minute or more for it to be highlighted and I can see it cycling through the other pieces my mouse icon passed over as I moved it. I thought maybe it was because I was using a lot of pieces at once but I’ve tried using less pieces and it still sometimes pops up.

  15. War Wizardess says:

    Oh drat, that must suck beyond measure!

    I had something similiar happen after a cleaning tool I installed got overeager. Lost all the lovely saves of my favorite character and although I tried to re-create her I still haven’t gotten it right. The originals’ facial expression was just perfect, now it’s just OK. At least I had exported jpg pics of everything, but NOT text strings. (I’ll never forget to save as text again, ever!)

    God, I just wanted to cry, and that was for something that was partially my own fault (restore points are your friend). Losing everything to something you have no control over must be even worse.

    I hope this won’t diminish your fun with HM in the long run, as I love most of your creations. πŸ™‚

  16. Worf says:

    OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64bits
    Browser: Firefox 4.0.1

    Haven’t seen this save/load problem, but am saving all txt files just to be safe…

    I’ll be upgrading to Firefox 5 after I finish so I may have other things to report……

  17. Tool says:

    I checked my stuff and Im not having any problems :/

  18. Panner says:

    For those wondering about the picture shifting left after an export:

    I didn’t know where to put it, so I just dumped it in the newbie forum.

  19. ams says:

    Okay, here’s what I think went wrong with my files.

    When I enabled the ADOBE update (includes FLASH PLAYER) and it was completed, it defaulted a check here…

    So this meant, without my knowledge, that when I closed that window that had HM3 operating, all my saved files(.SOL = shit out of luck) went bye bye. Now that I have un-check that box (with the help of Jeff’s attachement above), the HM3 program seems to be saving again.


  20. Worf says:

    Upgrade to Firefox 5 completed.. no issues with HM

  21. McKnight57 says:

    I’m not having any trouble at all. In fact, I actually need to make some space.

    OS: Mac OSX Snow Leopard 10.6.4
    Browser: Google Chrome

  22. mashlagoo says:

    I know how you feel AMS. Though most of the work I lost was old, I had 3 new images which took weeks to create. When I tried to open them and found everything was gone… I was just stunned. I havn’t been able to get myself to remake them as it took soooooo long the first time.

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    Awesome info, AMS, thank you so much for checking into that. I’ll update the main post in a moment with the info. As I said in the email, I’m just sick that you (and all the others) have lost the work of long months. That really, really suck.

  24. Jeff Hebert says:

    And a great link by you too Panner, very helpful, thank you.

  25. Kaylin88100 says:

    Mine still saves. I just want to know how to get all the lost ones back. I think I had over 100, and some of them are IMPOSSIBLE to accurately reproduce.

  26. Myro says:

    Worf (20): Good to know. I’m probably going to update Firefox today.

    OS: Windows 7 Basic 64bit
    Browser: Firefox 4.01 (soon to upgrade)

    Also, I regularly purge my cache, but I haven’t removed cookies in a while.

  27. Myro says:

    Oh yeah…duh. No problems with saving, although I’m losing my maskings on some of my older saves.

  28. ams says:

    @Kaylin88100 – you could try a SYSTEM RESTORE if you’re using windows, but I think you’re S.O.L. on your .sol files! Another vicious kick to the grobs!

  29. ams says:



    Don’t become another victim of DFS – Deleted File Syndrome!

    Condition may cause violent behavior towards inanimate objects and intense shouting at innocent computer moniters.

    Thank you for your support!

  30. demonhunter says:

    ok, seems like the safest way to make sure my creations dont disappear is to save the text string. but, as i am not quite as tech savvy as some of you, im having trouble finding the text string. also, once i do find it and copy it into a word document, how would i use it to re upload a creation that has been deleted?

  31. demonhunter says:

    hmm, it APPEARS ive figured it out, so disregard that last post. sorry everyone

  32. VonMalcolm says:

    I lost all my characters that I made through the desk top: I figured it was because I moved or there was a newer version of HeroMachine 3.0. (The Cyborg contest was my first contest in months.) I haven’t checked my laptop creations yet. Did the HeroMachine of a few months back, before the new look, have a text save?

  33. MartianBlue says:

    Been there done that. Now I simply back up as text.

  34. ams says:

    Okay, Day 2.

    With the image that I submitted to Jeff(above), I still have one snag. I can save pics as long as I DO NOT clear my browsing cache! The unchecked box above only prevents you from deleting your saved files when you close the current window you are working in. Back to the drawing board…

    Any suggestions…!!!!!!!!!

  35. Jeff Hebert says:

    That’s the fundamental change in this release, ams — Flash cookies are now like normal cookies, which get cleared when you clear your cache. Look around in those dialog boxes — it’s probably in the next box after you clicke “DELETE …” on the one you’ve shown — ands see if there are selectable options for exactly what gets cleared when you clear your cache; hopefully they’ll let you exclude Flash cookies (SOL files).

    Alternatively, you can give up on IE and switch to Chrome πŸ™‚

  36. Panner says:

    ams: Starting at the screenshot you posted earlier, if I click the button ‘Delete…’ I get a pop up window asking what I want to delete. At the top is a checkbox that makes the browser preserve data for favorited websites. Have you tried checking that one and adding as a favorite?

    It will probably suck when HeroMachine is updated and you want to clear out the old .swf file without touching the .sol files, but that’s the best I can come up with.

  37. Jeff Hebert says:

    Yeah, this is going to necessitate some serious re-thinking about save files and such. Unfortunately there’s literally no other way for Flash to interact with your local hard drive in terms of file saves & loads.

    The only other solution I can think of is to have the app start saving all files online in delimited user accounts instead of locally in the SOL files, but then you have to have a whole infrastructure built to track users, logins, passwords, etc.

  38. Doornik1142 says:

    Jeff (37)

    Does this mean that the save system that currently exists will eventually be scrapped, along with all the saves currently on it?

  39. Jeff Hebert says:

    It doesn’t mean anything yet Doornik, I’m just thinking out loud. I don’t see the save/load system changing any time in the near future at all. Much much more likely is I’ll have to build in some kind of warnings or advisories or something.

    What’s mostly troubling to me is if IE is automatically changing the settings to wipe out all of these cookies. It ought to be an opt-in kind of thing rather than automatically turning it all on.

  40. Trekkie says:

    I’ve discovered, Google Chrome doesn’t seem to delete .SOL files, since I just accidentally closed it and had to reopen it, and thankfully all my creations are still there. So, I’m guessing it must be something with IE. I’m carrying on with saving the text string too though, just in case.

  41. Raymond Malone says:

    I use Google Chrome since all other web browsers are really slow and usually crash on me and I never had a problem with the savings or anything a few creations I saved on paint and a few shouldn’t be hard to recreate but as fer the rest i’m not sure.

    lol ams I had to laugh when I read the bottom of yer post as that’s what I think I did was yell at me computer lol
    I liked yer post mate.