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File already in use? No, I promise it isn't.

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At work, we have a folder for our Revenue Audit department on a Windows 2003 Server box. There are many departments, each with their own folder, on this server but it seems that Revenue Audit is the only deparment this problem is happening to.

Again, the server is a Windows 2003 Server. One of the seven clients is running Windows Vista Business Edition with Office 2007 Service Pack 1 and the remaining are running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and Office XP with Service Pack 3. Before you start pointing fingers at Vista, you should know that this problem started before we installed the Vista machine.

So, what's the problem? When our auditors try to open office documents (usually Excel), they are frequently receiving messages that another user has a lock on the file. The catch is that the other user actually doesn't have the file open. In fact, sometimes the person in question is off for the day. All of their applications are closed and sometimes, if you can believe this, their PC is turned off. Still, the server thinks another user is using the file.

The last strange incident, though I can't confirm, is that the girl tried to save a file and received the message that another user had a lock on the file. She couldn't use the "Save" or "Save As" commands so wound up printing her data so she could rekey the numbers into the spreadsheet after closing Excel and reopening the document. She swears to me that she wasn't warned when opening the file that it was locked and would then open as "Read Only". However, she is the first one to have had this problem and I can't even confirm that it actually happened.

During initial research, I found a program called Unlocker, that gets installed on the Server and is suppose to unlock the problematic files. I waited, for days, and then it finally happened again. This would be my chance to test the new freeware program. As it's creators promised, it told me that another user had a lock on the file and removed the lock. Then, I bolted over to my own PC and tried opening the file. It had worked, or so I thought. I was able to open the file, make some changes and save the file. Then I exceted Excel and told the girl in Revenue Audit that I had fixed that file. When she tried to open it, however, it told her that I had a lock on the file. I rebooted my own machine but she continued to have this problem. I ran the unlocker program again, but this time it couldn't find the lock. According to it, everything was OK. We had not rebooted that server in a LONG time so decided to give it a small break. An announcement was made and the file server came down. When we brought it up, I asked Revenue Audit to try opening the file again. She was able to open the file and everything looked OK so we assumed we had fixed the problem, blaming it all on a software glitch. On the following day, it all started again.

The only other thing we have checked is the securities on those folders and files. I'm not sure how that would help but a buddy recommended it as an option and I didn't have any others so decided to give it a try. I couldn't find anything wrong with Securities and/or Permissions.

Now, we in IT, stand together scratching our heads trying to figure out why the server doesn't recognize when a client releases a file.

Is it the clients? Is it Microsoft Office XP? Is it the server? There are so many possibilities and we have no clue what else to do to remedy this situation.

Any and all information will be greatly appreciated.


Magus :)
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When you say 'locked', is that what the message is?
Or is it read only, which can also be set by anyone who opens a file and that is not locked, set to read and write, or make changes.

Also are these more then one networks communicating with each other.
Some sharing, read and write options need to be investigated.
Whether one network or more actually.

Another thought is that are the other files from the same machine with the same program that created it giving the same message. Which would tell me that the program itself is set to lock or set to read only any documents of that type.

Checking into the settings of the program including exceptions, network configuration including 'exceptions', and also settings for networkS, if that be the case.
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I am having the same problem. MS Access and Excel Files are constantly locked on the server when no one else is using the file. In some instances, the file just got created by the user, and no one else is even aware of the file's existence, but we still get the same error; '...file already in use'. it doesn't say who is using it nor does it give you more useful information.

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