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Unable to open excel file

Posted on 1999-07-29
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Last Modified: 2008-02-20
Since a couple of weeks the following error started appearing on certain Excel files on our network.

'FILENAME.XLS' cannot be accessed. The file may be read-only, or you may be trying to access a read-only location. Or, the server the document is stored on may not be responding.

But the fileproperties state that this file isn't "read-only", the location isn't "read-only" and the server is available. I can rename the file but there is no way of opening the file or overwriting it. I copied the file to the local hard disk but that doesn't help.
We are running Excel 97 (SR2), Novel 4.11, Novell client V2.50.
I have no idea what is causing this problem. It has already happened with a couple of files. I can't find any viruses.
One day you work with the file, you save it and the next day you can't open it (?!).
I've tried all the suggestions from the Microsoft site but none of those work.
The program from excelrecovery.com can get some of the information out of the file.
So in fact two questions.
Main question: What is causing this problem?
Second q: How can I gain access to the "damaged" files?
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Question by:Hurk
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37 Comments
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:jboddy
ID: 1610326
If you are saving to a Novell server volume:-
This problem may occur when the following conditions are true:
1. The file has been saved to a Novell network volume.
   -and-
2. The file has become damaged.

RESOLUTION
==========
If you are experiencing this issue on a Novell network, there is more information available from Novell. Please reference Technical Document Number 2939659 at http://support.novell.com.
 
If the fix from Novell does not eliminate the problem then a supported fix that corrects this problem is now available from Microsoft, but it has not been fully regression tested and should be applied only to systems experiencing this specific problem. If you are not severely affected by this specific problem, Microsoft recommends that you wait for the next release of Microsoft Office that contains this fix.
 
Please contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the fix. For a complete list of Microsoft Product Support Services phone numbers and information on support costs, please go to the following address on the World Wide Web:
   http://support.microsoft.com/support/supportnet/default.asp
 
WORKAROUND
==========
You may also choose to work around this problem rather than applying a patch. In this case, follow these steps to edit a workbook stored on a Novell server:
 
1. Copy your Microsoft Excel workbook from your network server to your local hard disk.
 
2. Edit the local copy of the workbook.
 
3. Copy the workbook from your local hard disk back to the network server.
 
   Note: You should still keep backup copies of all of your important files.
 
MORE INFORMATION
================
 
Once you receive this error, the file you are attempting to save has become damaged. You can attempt to recover the information from the file by using the methods in the following articles.
 
For additional information, please see the following articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
   Q75818 XL: Linking to Data in a Damaged File (4.0 and Earlier)
   Q147216 XL: Linking to Data in a Damaged File (5.0 and Later)
   Q142117 Excel: Summary of Methods to Recover Data from Corrupted Files

0
 
LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:cri
ID: 1610327
Hurk,
Despite jboddy being quicker with his post and you stating that you have already consulted the MSKB, here the same article as URL:
XL97: Err Msg: "<Filename> cannot be accessed. The file may be read-only..."
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q182/6/71.asp

As for the second question, accessing the damaged files. Make sure you have the newest xlrecover, it is reported to be capable of retrieving formulas too, not only the values. However VB macros and diagrams are still out of its capabilities.
If you need additional info, look into the question Q.10185036, you can copy and paste the number in the browser command line.

Hope this helps.
\cri
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610328
jboddy,

Thanks for your info. I tried the MS solutions before but none of these worked. I will try the Novell solutions. If those fail I will contact MS for their patch.

cri,

Thanks for your info. I already tried the MS article but solutions don't work. I had a look at Q.10185036 and I seem to have the same problem, because all solutions provided here don't work for me either.
I'll probably download XLrecov to gain access to my damaged files and hopefully the Novell solutions will prevent this problem in the future.

If none of the suggestions work I will post my question again.

Hurk
0
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 1610329
Hi Hurk,
We are also running Excel 97 (SR2) and Novell, (don't know version numbers)
If one of the files you have does not contain confidential data then if you are interested, you can e-mail me one of the files if you want and I will look at it.
My e-mail is   ahammar@micron.net
Cheers!
ahammar
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610330
Don't you try to use Novell utility Salvage to recover previous copy of your file at network drive? By the way, check your file names for international symbols - Novell doesn't like symbols with ASCII code over 127 in file name. It could be the case.
Same problem was already discussed here (unsuccesful), but I don't remember Q.number

0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610331
Yes I am using salvage to recover previous versions of the file, but that doesn't really solve the problem.
At the moment a couple of times a week users inform me that they have this particular problem with Excel files.
The filenames do not contain any special characters.

0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:jbman
ID: 1610332
A network process has the file locked. This can be caused by several possible problems running on the server independent of the computer on your desk. Have a network administrator check which ppcess has the file locked and fix the problem. This is not a problem with excel.
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610333
jbman,

I am the system admin here, but I have no idea what to look for. How can I see that the file is locked (other than being unable to open it)? And how can I detect what process has the file locked?
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610334
jbman,

I had a look in the console monitor on our Novell server and checked the 'file open/lock activity' but the Excel files are not locked.
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610335
Hurk!
Another suggestion (I found that question Q.10172781, discussed some time ago): it could be unproper actions of antiviral program. What network antiviral software do you use (and don't you unpgrade/change it some week ago - when this things started appearing)?
Hope it helps.
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610336
vboukhar,

We are running Norton Antivirus 4.0 for W95 on all our workstations. My last update was the second week of July (after this problem started occuring). The one before that was in March (a long time before this started occuring). So I don't think it's the Anti Virus software.
I will have to wait a couple of days before I can have a look at Q.10172781 (not enough points at the moment).
I will reboot the server this afternoon, maybe that helps.
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610337
Though in that question another software was mentioned, it seems some discussion about Norton Antivirus and Excel files was here also...Sorry, can't remember exactly. I'll try search PAQ.
But in any case, try to turn off NA and then to open file (or try to open it on PC without NA running). What else could lock files?
0
 

Expert Comment

by:HighFly
ID: 1610338
Hurk, the file you try to open is on a network volume. How do you map this volume - by Windows (rightclicking and so on) or by command (net use <DRIVE>: and so on)?
High Fly
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 1610339
Hi all,
Just thought I'd let you know that Hurk sent me a copy of one of the files, and I have the same problem with it at work running Win95 and Novell with Cheyenne Antivirus, and at home with just Win98 and Mcaffe. I haven't a clue what is wrong though, so keep going.
Cheers!
ahammar
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610340
hurk! Could you send me sample too? My e-mail is in my profile.
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610341
HighFly,

Drivemappings are set in the Novell login script.

Ahammar,

Are you having the problems at home on a Novell network or do you save your files to your local harddisk?


I said I was going to reboot the server on Friday, but that was bad timing for some users. I will probably do so sometime this week. On Friday I started upgrading the users to Novell Client 3.1 and I first would like to see if that makes any difference.

0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 1610342
Hello Hurk,
I have the same problem just putting it on a my hard drive at home with no network, so it must not be a network problem.

ahammar
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610343
ahammar,

Do you only have the problem with the file I sent you? Or do you also have the problem with your own Excel files. The file I sent you is already corrupted, so I don't think it can be opened on any system. But if you have the same problem with you own Excel files on a Novell network AND on your local hard disk then the problem is getting bigger.

Hurk
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 1610344
Hurk,
The file you sent me is the first time I have seen this. I have had no previous (same) problems with any Excel files at home or at work on the Network. So I am still not sure what is wrong. You are probably right about the file being corrupted and not being able to be openned on any machine though.
Is this starting to happen to more files that are on your network? If so, does it happen after making changes and saving it again, or even if no changes have been made?

ahammar
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610345
ahammar,

I don't really know. In most cases the users made changes to their files and saved them but there seems to one case were the user just opened a file and just closed it without saving. I'm not really sure because the user can't exactly remember what he did.
But thanks for the advise, because I will start to monitor this.

Hurk
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610346
Hurk,
I've got your file and try to find a reason of error message appearing now. By the way, Excel recovery tool (from http://www.conceptdata.com/excel/) works well enough to repair your file. Of course it isn't solution, but to save some time and extra work...
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610347
I'm not sure if it is the new Novel Client or something else, but the problem has not occurred yet this week. But then again we have had a quiet week before.....
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 1610348
vboukhar,
How do you get the Excel recovery tool to work if you can't get the file open. Are you talking about the recovery macro that works as an addin....?? If so, that one only works with the current workbook that is open...
I was just wondering.....??
Cheers!

ahammar
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610349
ahammar,

I've downloaded a demo version of a program called 'Excel Recovery' from www.excelrecovery.com.
After you run the setup you have an extra item called 'recover' under 'file' in the menu.
When you click on 'recover' you can select the damaged file and the contents of the file will be recovered. You will lose all formats but at least you will have the data (maybe the full version is better).
I think that somehow only the entry to the file is damaged and that Excel Recovery isn't bothered with that.
I can send you a copy of the demo (0.5 Mb) or you can download it yourself if you're interested.

Regards,

Hurk
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 1610350
Hurk,
Ok, I see. Thanks for the info. I was thinking of the other one that is not a demo, but it works differently. It is also free, and saves formatting and everything, but it won't work unless you can atleast get the workbook open, then it's available as an addin.
I have used both of them, and in my opinion this one you are talking about here is much better, but as I have only used the demo version, it would do some of the recovery and then tell me my file needed the full version to complete the recovery, so I didn't use it after that. I guess I was using a file that was to big or to corrupted for the demo version and since it's pretty hard to purposely corrupt a file, it was pretty hard to experiment with. It did work good on the part it did recover though.
But, I know now what you are using, and if your file is within the limitations of the demo version, then I think it will work good.
Thanks again!
Cheers!
ahammar

0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610351
Hurk,
I explored your file. Excel file is OLE compound storage document, and your sample is realy damaged: there is a reference in header, that big block depot (BBD, something like FAT for disk) has to be in block 0, but this block contains worksheet data already, so every application, that try to read file through standard MS OLE storage functions will fail - next reference points at memory position off the file (maybe it's a reason of that strange error message?). It seems like file was corrupted on saving, it has no very important information about structure - Root entry etc. If you right-click this file in Explorer, you'll see, that summary information is absent too.
So, another suggestion - when user saved this file, Excel made all necessary changes in header, then try to write some additional blocks on network drive (with BBD, root entry, summary information etc.), but failed. Maybe user exceed his/her space limit on network drive? Could you check it?
So, my conclusion:
- it's impossible to recover this file with simple changing one or more bytes in header and/or file attributes etc. - only full reconstruction like ExcelRecovery;
- this problem occures due to network limitation of user's rights (free space limit or number of open files/buffers).

0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 1610352
Vboukhar,

The last two weeks we have had no occurrances of this particular problem.
You might be right about the space limit on the network.
Our network volume space is becoming limited and I noticed that Novell started to compress files.
So the limitation in volume space might have been the cause of our problems.
I think it is about time to close this question. I'm going on my holiday this weekend and it seems that the problem is not occurring anymore.
any idea how to close this question?
I'd like to devide the points between you and ahammar because you've both been very involved in trying to find an answer to my question. Any idea how to do that?

Hurk
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610353
I guess, best way to post question to Customer service and ask them to decrease price of this one (to 100). 100 points will be back to you, and you can post question ("Points for ahammar", f.e.). I'll post answer here, ahammar in your new question and you can grade us.
For another ways - look at http://www.turedata.se/exex  - ture wrote instructions how to resolve this problem.

0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 1610354
Hi, Hurk,
Dou you remember about this your question? :-)
Do I have to post my comments as an answer? - I'm the only one, that remember about this question
:-)
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 2025378
....it seems you are at holiday yet... :-)
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 2027318
Vboukhar,

I have finally returned from my holiday.
The points have been decreased to 100 (hope this works). If you post an answer I'll make sure you receive the points.
I'll post another question for ahammar so he can receive the other 100 points.

Thanks for your help on this one.
0
 
LVL 5

Accepted Solution

by:
vboukhar earned 800 total points
ID: 2027371
For PAQ reader in brief: due to network limitations Excel files were corrupted.

Thanks, Hurk
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 2029415
Hurk, it seems points don't decrease. If you don't accept ahammar answer yet, you can delete that your question (and get back your points), and I'll post question for ahammar so he can receive his 100 points from me.
Or - another way - if you have (orthink you'll be have)in future any question in Excel, Word, Access, VB , databases etc topics,  I answer it free (to employ your advance to me in 100 points :-) You can use this PAQ to post that questions for me.
0
 

Author Comment

by:Hurk
ID: 2029423
I just gave 100 points to ahammar. If you give him another 50 you will both have 150. How does that sound?

Hurk
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:vboukhar
ID: 2029535
OK, it's good solution.

Good luck!
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:ahammar
ID: 2030479
Hurk and vboukhar,
Thanks and Good luck to both of you!
Cheers!
ahammar
0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:Moondancer
ID: 6872327
GREETINGS!

This question was awarded, but never cleared due to the JSP-500 errors of that time.  It was "stuck" against userID -1 versus the intended expert whom you awarded.  This corrects the problem and the expert will now receive these points; points verified.

Please click on your Member Profile and select "View Question History" to navigate through any open or locked questions you may have to update and finalize them.  If you are an EE Pro user, you can also choose Power Search to find all your open questions.

This is the Community Support link, if help is needed, along with the link to All Topics which reflects many TAs recently added.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qList.jsp?ta=commspt
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/zonesAll.jsp
 
Thank you,
Moondancer
Moderator @ Experts Exchange
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