MS Word says "There has been a network or file permission error" when you try to save a document

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In certain circumstances, a Microsoft Office mac application may fail to save a document to a network server, with the following error message: "There has been a network or file permission error. The network connection may be lost."

An article at support.apple.com explains the problem:

If more than one user logs in to a Mac OS X Server from different client computers and with the same UID, they will be unable to save server-stored files using a Microsoft Office application after any of the users logs out. When a save is attempted, this alert will appear:

"There has been a network or file permission error. The network connection may be lost."


You can use one of these workarounds:
• Use a shared directory service instead so that every user logs in with their own unique ID.
• Don't share a server user—each client user should have a unique ID.
• Unmount the server volume before logging out of Mac OS X on the client computer.

Why does this occur?

Microsoft Office applications use a "safe save" that stores files in the TemporaryItems folder that's on the same volume as the file. With a shared file system, the path is:

/.TemporaryItems/folders. (local UID) /TemporaryItems.

However, when one of the users logs out of the local client, the "/.TemporaryItems/folders. (local UID)/TemporaryItems." directory is deleted, preventing any other currently-logged in users that are using the same UID from saving from Microsoft Office applications.

What the article does not fully explain is that this happens to users who log into their workstations using local accounts. In that case, regardless of how you log on to the server, the folder name in the TemporaryItems folder will use your local UID, which is very often 501 or 502, not your unique network UID.

Further, the first two workarounds are not 100% accurate — the trigger is not how you log into the server or whether you have a shared directory service, it is how you log onto your workstation. If you log into your workstation using a network account (i.e. where your home directory is on the server) the problem does not arise. Network accounts can have performance issues running MS Office applications, though, because your cache files are being saved to a server, rather than locally. Moreover, while network accounts may be configured to redirect cache files to the users local hard drive, MS applications do not play well with those measures.

Two measures that do seem to deal with these obstacles are:
• using OS X server mobile network accounts;
• setting up network user accounts that are defined to have home folders located at /Users/ (i.e. on the user's local drive).

A final workaround is, when this problem arises, quit Word, saving the file to your local hard drive, and launch Word again. You will thereafter be able to save normally (for a while, anyway).
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