“NETWORK OR FILE PERMISSION ERROR”

All right, now I’m getting angry.

Like most of my business clients, my documents are stored on a network server. When I click on “My Documents,” I’m taken to \brucebserverusersbruceb. My clients store business documents in \serverCompany or \serverfirmdocs. Those shared folders are frequently mapped to a drive letter, so the M: drive also takes me to my document folder.

More than six months ago, I began to get intermittent reports about problems saving files to network shares. Clients with a file open in MS Word would see the file become “read-only” right before their eyes. They’d have to save the file with a new name, over and over.

There were variations on the messages. Some people had Windows Desktop Search 2.6 which occasionally caused similar problems – but the problems persisted after upgrading to WDS 3.01, where that bug is reportedly fixed. I’ve spent many frustrating hours trying to track down the source of the problems.

The problem would sometimes occur when a file was being saved. “There has been a network or file permission error. The network connection may be lost.” Sometimes the file can be saved on the third or fourth attempt; other times it has to be saved to the local hard drive, then transferred manually to the network drive.

By now I’ve seen reports of similar problems in Word and Excel, in Office 2003 and 2007 (and clients have seen it in other programs as well); and there are reports of similar things happening in Windows XP and Windows Vista. Random examples: a Microsoft Technet forum thread; a TechRepublic thread; good god, there’s even someone complaining about it on a Mac with Office 2004!

I’m running Vista Business with Office 2007. When I open a Word document from my Documents folder on the server, I’m almost never able to save it back to that folder. This makes me cranky.

Two weeks ago there was widespread coverage of a Vista bug that makes copying or moving files extremely slow – but only on some computers, and usually (but not always) when transferring files from one computer to a network share on another computer. Microsoft released a hotfix but the accompanying notes described a more limited problem and did not create confidence that the problem was truly understood or fixed. I tried the hotfix and saw little difference in the copy/move speed, and it seemed to make the “network or file permission error” worse.

There is a Microsoft tech note about the specific problem in Word 2003 and 2007 that causes the “network or file permission error” message. It is infuriating! In effect, it says, we don’t have a clue why that happens; when it does, save the file to your local hard disk and stop bothering us.

Gnashing of teeth.