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Document is locked for editing – Part 2

12 April, 2010 (11:02) | Office, SharePoint | By: Paul Liebrand

In 2008 I made a post about the infamous “locked for editing” message many people experience while using Office with documents stored in SharePoint. This post addressed the issue that can occur outside the normal “locking” mechanism Office and SharePoint.

I recently had a problem where I attempted to edit an Excel spreadsheet and I was presented by the following message:

File in Use

Being a good SharePoint citizen, I waited about 20 minutes to give SharePoint the chance to unlock this file. Even using the Notify feature of Excel, I never received a notification saying it was available. I decided to follow the steps outlined in my other post on this topic. So I navigated to the Content.MSO directory, cleared it out so it was empty and tried to open the file again via SharePoint. To my surprise, I received the same message.

I was 100% sure that nobody else had this file open so I began investigating further. I ran a filemon on my computer as I was opening the file and saw it was attempting to read and write a file located under C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\6WBGVSLW\UKYNMWF7\Offline\e

I navigated to this folder and saw this:

4-12-2010 10-51-34 AM

I deleted all the content in this folder and attempted to open my document again and sure enough it opened successfully. This was the first time in the many years I have worked with SharePoint that I ran into this location.

I went to another computer and saw that the folder name after “Temporary Internet Files” was different. If I deleted this folder and opened the document again, the exact same name was created.

After some more research I found a registry key that is used to identify this location:

4-12-2010 10-55-56 AM

HLCU\Software\Microsoft\MSDAIPP\CacheFolderId

This value will identify the location on your computer since it will be different for everyone. The offline folder appears to be a special hidden folder so you might have to key it in manually once you have reached that destination.

For more information on what MSDAIPP (Microsoft Data Access Internet Publishing Provider) is, check out this Wikipedia article.

There still seems to be no idea what causes this problem to happen. Maybe it’s network error or a bug in one of the products – who knows! Regardless, this is just another location you might need to check to release the “locked by another user” error that so many people seem to get.

Hopefully this helps.


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  • Cody

    I wanted to add that we had a sharepoint crash last year, and we were able to salvage lots of documents from the MSDAIPP cache on all the workstations. It saved our butts. The best way to connect to it is over the network, as windows hides it. So go to:

    \computerc$Documents and SettingsLocal SettingsTemporary Internet FilesOffline

    You’ll find folders labeled A-F that contain the last several files the user opened from sharepoint. They will have weird random names, but the users were very happy to see these files.

  • Cody

    Also, I wanted to add that I had the problem you describe, but it didn’t resolve itself until I deleted everything in the ‘offline’ folder. I think the lock was hidden in HashFile.dat or one of the other two files in that folder. These files were all regenerated once I opened a file from sharepoint.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I2VOPO2UWJNC7BQF2CGQBWKMOQ A

    Thanks very much for this. I’ve had phantom locks on Excel before, and this was my first SharePoint experience. Was frustrating that simply clearing out %TEMP% wasn’t working.

  • Kirby

    The problem is usually caused by the user logging off his computer without closing out the documents.  I have had these issues daily for weeks one right after the other.  We share computers here.  If the prior user closes all documents and logs of correcetly this problem goes away.  Train your users. 

  • http://www.paulliebrand.com Paul Liebrand

    Training users is sometimes easier said than done but I agree with you.

  • Guest

    tks a lot !

  • Parker

    I also had to empty the entire ‘offline’ folder.

    I also dropped a (3-month old!) version of the file from the folder:

          C:Documents and SettingsMy DocumentsSharePoint Drafts

    Once I started editing again, a new copy of the document was written there.

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