Tips and Known Issues for the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences File Server Cluster

Last revision February 11, 2016

The School of Earth Sciences File Server cluster contains multiple disk storage pools containing file shares that are accessed under different server names, including,,,,,,, and others that may be created for new large research file shares. For simplicity, this note will use the server name, which accesses the largest number of file shares. The information in this note applies in all cases, regardless of the server name used to access the cluster.

Cannot open Microsoft Office files on the server! Says "locked by another user".

Have you seen this error message when trying to open Microsoft Office files stored on the School file server, using an Office application on the Windows operating system?

<filename> is locked for editing by another user

This would be a normal message if another user of the file share had already opened the file and was editing it. But you ask around, and no one else has touched the file. So why can't you open it?

This is generally not an error on the file server itself, but rather a problem with the way Microsoft Office applications interact with the Windows operating system. This problem can happen with a file stored on any kind of network file server.

We have seen two different causes for this error.

  • Windows Explorer on your own computer has locked the file!

    If you are using the "Details" view in Windows Explorer and especially if you have it set to automatically "preview" files, then Windows Explorer will temporarily lock the file while it gathers the needed information. If you try to open the file while Windows Explorer is still working, your Office application may be blocked by this temporary lock. This problem is documented in this Microsoft technical note.

    This "collision" between access to the same file by Windows Explorer and your Office application essentially never happens if the file is stored on your local hard disk, because the hard disk returns data fast enough to Windows Explorer that it releases its file lock before you could ever try to open the file.

    But if the file resides on a network file share (from any type of server), occasionally network congestion introduces a delay, and Windows Explorer is delayed getting all the information it wants and it still has the file locked when you try to open it in your Office application.

    How do you solve this problem? First, quit opening the file, wait a while, and try to open the file again. The delay may be resolved. Secondly, disable the preview function and Details view in Windows Explorer and navigate back to the folder and try to open it again.

  • The Office application is being confused by the presence of a earlier temporary copy of the same file on your local computer.

    When you open Office documents from a network server, the application may make a temporary "cached" copy of the file on your local disk for faster access. If that temporary copy is not properly removed when you close the file, the next time you try to open it, the Office application application may be confused by the presence of the temporary file and think that it is already open.

    You fix this problem by removing these old temporary copies of Office documents. They are generally found in one of these directories:


    These temporary files have names that consist of a long string of digits and characters, ending in the filetype ".TMP", for example, DF1D3B376590B47E0B.TMP. Try deleting these files. First, save and close any other Office files that you have open! If you delete the temporary copy of an open file, you could corrupt it. Then delete these "*.TMP" files from the directories above. Now try to re-open the problematic file on the server.

If neither of the fixes described above works to give you access again to the problematic Office file, put in a HelpSU request to ask our CRC technicians to check your computer settings. Be sure to reference this web page for them.

Some Mac OS X filename characters not valid in Windows.

Mac OS X can use special characters in filenames that are not legal in Windows. will validly store files with many of these characters in the name but then Windows won't be able to read them. For maximum cross-platform compatibility, do not use any of these characters in your file names:

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For more information, see

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