A while ago I was called out to a customer of mine who were experiencing problems with deleting and/or renaming of files and folders located on network shares not working… their environment is based on Windows 7 on the clients and a Small Business Server 2011 Premium on the backend.
The errors they were seeing varied though… albeit this error-message most often came up, which turned out to be both helpful and somewhat misguiding as we will see…
The error-message is in Swedish, but it roughly translates to “The action cannot be completed due to the folder or file being open in another program. Close the folder or file and try again.”
Well, needless to say since I am writing this post, the file or folder wasn’t open anywhere. Me thoughts immediately went to Offline files and re-directed folders, since that was being used. As 99% of the clients were stationary machines and not laptops, I went ahead and disabled the two – to see if it may indeed be so that files or folders were having handles to them from being cached by someone else and thus the error.
Alas, no. No dice, the error remained. So I pondered some more and then I came up with a something similar that is going on yet not as “in your face” as traditional offline files syncing. The Windows Explorer keeps some normally hidden files in each folder that you may have seen from time to time called thumbs.db. That is a caching container for folder art and document thumbnails being associated with various files and folders. However it is deprecated in Windows 7 and only there for backwards compatibility. Windows 7 and onwards actually saves this information under each users profile instead or more specifically in C:\Users\michael.anderberg\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer in my case. The idea being that the user shall experience a beautiful view of their files yet cut down on network and file system traffic while displaying the same. Well guess what, these are also being locked on access but by the system rather than traditional offline caching.
So I went ahead and created a policy to disable this caching behavior. It looks like this:
And what it actually does is that it sets three keys under User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates…\Windows Components\Windows Explorer called:
- Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons on network folders
- Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files
- Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures
After configuring them to Enabled, the problem completely disappeared for the users at this customer. So case closed from my point of view for now. However, some Googling on the subject will turn out that this may or may not be a bug in Windows, that it may or may not be related to Adobe Acrobat Reader being used to access the PDFs in this particular folder etc.
For instance you may want to browse through this thread: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7itprogeneral/thread/ca2cbc1a-362f-4f01-a8f8-6f05112f1915/ that is pretty through.
All I can say is that case didn’t allow for me to actually sort this out with Microsoft PSS nor have I done extensive research on various ways of making the problem go away other than the above. All I know is that for this customer the above worked like a charm and now a months later the problem have yet to come back.