Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've noticed something peculiar on my file server. I went to move some folders around and I used the "Open Files" utility in Computer Management to ensure that there were no open files in the folders I intended to use. I noticed a user who had files open that he had no reason to open (probably 20 files in the same folder)

To make a long story short, I tried opening one of those files (.xls) and it needed to be recovered because it was corrupt and it had been locked for editing by a user who hasn't worked here in almost 2 years (their account is deleted).

The user who had the files open had a session established from their workstation and that was the only session for that username. I logged onto their computer with their credentials and they had none of those files open and recent documents showed that they hadn't opened any of those documents. I ran a virus scan which came up clean and it doesn't look as though they have any malicious back doors open. I rebooted their computer and those files were no longer "open" on the file server.

I know Server 2000 is archaic (we'll be replacing it this year) but is this a known issue? Does server 2000 incorrect state which files are open? Can anyone think of another instance that would cause something like this to happen?

share|improve this question
Experienced similar things with Win2kSrv. It seems to forget releasing files sometimes. – Posipiet Jan 19 '11 at 15:31
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This same problem exists in Win2003. Files are considered open unless a response to close the connection is received from the client. The only solutions I've ever had was to either manually disconnect the session, or reboot the server.

I'm not sure if this continues to be a problem with Windows 2008.

share|improve this answer

As for Windows thinking that files are in use, there is probably some background process which has the files open. Windows Search for example could keep files open on a remote server if it is trying to index those files. It would be accessing the files under the creds of the user who was logged into the workstation.

If the user has the network share mapped it could be an anti-virus is scanning the files (this could also happen over a network share) and the anti-virus could be leaving the files hung open.

share|improve this answer

I'd guess that the problem is either the protocol or the Windows clients, since I've seen the same with Samba (linux) servers. Most of my clients are Macs; but only the files managed by Windows systems stay open for too long (days sometimes).

share|improve this answer

I also had this problem in Win2000 and Win2003. Often I was able to kill the lock using Sysinternals Process Explorer. Choose "File or Handle..." from the Find menu and look at the processes that come up in the search results. In many cases you can kill the process(es) which will remove the lock on the file.

Do know what exactly it is you're killing before doing it, though...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.