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Some users on my network are having difficulties saving files, because the file is open elsewhere. Let's say Lemuel wants to edit a file, but Bernice in the next office over is working on it.

Lemuel opens, edits, and tries to save, but then gets a "no write access" error. Bernice chortles with glee (since earlier that week Lemuel stole her sandwich).

Unfortunately, various softwares will not warn the user that they have opened a read-only file.

Is there a way (in Windows) to limit file access to ONE user only, i.e. 777 for the first user to open the file, and 000 for all users after that?

(Sorry for the Linux terminology but it gets my point across).

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

This doesn't directly answer your question as far as limiting access to the file to a single person, but if you run into this issue many times perhaps a collaboration option is in better order.

OffiSync appears to allow multiple users work on a document in real-time collaboratively.

OffiSync Supercharges Microsoft Office, enabling users to significantly improve the way they create, collaborate and share their documents by integrating Microsoft Office with Google Docs, and Google Apps.

Installing OffiSync adds a new toolbar to any version of Microsoft Office, letting users easily import web content such as images and templates right from within MS Office, collaborate with others in real time, letting users see each other's edits as they work with Office files and share their final documents with others inside or outside the firewall.

Note: I have NOT personally used the software and tested it yet, but plan on giving it a shot soon and will update

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Great, thanks, will have a go (next week :) ). – Ben Apr 1 '11 at 8:42

Microsoft Source Safe comes to mind first. It allows users to "lock" files to prevent other users from editing while they are being edited. Alternatively, SVN I believe has the ability to lock files as well.

There is another Microsoft product that offers this capability as well, but I can't remember what it is (there is a green icon??). Don't think it's Microsoft Live Sync.

There's got to be better stuff out there, it just blows my mind to think of it right now. Search up on Content and Document Management systems (especially stuff built into Windows).

Update: I guess Microsoft Source Safe is a little out-of-date. Microsoft has incorporated its functionality into its Team Foundation Server. That's probably a little more complicated than what you're looking for :)

Here is a link that might be a good starting point:

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Perfect, thanks for some terminology too to help with the searches. – Ben Apr 1 '11 at 8:42
I know versions of office from at least 2003 and later will tell you that a file is locked for editing when you open it. I think in some cases it will do it with a popup, but it will also show a [read only] in the title bar as well. I know this doesn't help if you aren't using Office for this, and it relies on users paying attention which can be a crapshoot. – Tofystedeth Apr 1 '11 at 14:50
Started poking around, Jeff Atwood has apparently run into SourceSafe too:… (thumbs down, he says). – Ben Apr 13 '11 at 3:18

To the best of my knowledge, what you're asking for isn't possible. It sounds like your application has some unfortunate file locking behavior; I'd contact the software vendor.

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File "locking" is pretty typical for most modern / professional applications, including those from Microsoft, Adobe, and more. Source control helps alleviate some of the issues with this when shared across multiple users. – Joshua Apr 1 '11 at 5:24

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