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I use Microsoft Word 2010 to write long documents. These typically include a lot of sections, graphics, formulae, footnotes, a TOC, an index, a bibliography, and inline cross-references and source references. Hence, I make full use of the (mostly) excellent functionality offered by the Microsoft Word word processor.

However, far too often (maybe once a day) when I try to save a document (Ctrl+S) after a few minutes of editing, the "Save As" dialog appears (which is unexpected, since the document is already saved as a file). And, then, no matter if I choose to overwrite the existing file, or to save as a new file, which are my only options, it fails with error message "A file error occurred" [translated from Swedish: "Ett filfel uppstod"]. Thus, I cannot save the document anymore!

Screenshot of error message

Is there any known cure? I have experienced this problem since Word 2007. Now I use Word 2010. [This never happened to me when writing equally complex documents in Word 97 and Word 2003, which are stable as rocks.]

The only workaround that I know of is to copy the text to Notepad, create a new Word document, and spend a few hours reformatting it and recreating all formulae, illustrations, etc.

Some clarification

This has happened for a very long time, and with many different documents. And on different computers. My hypothesis is that Word is buggy, and that formulae and Word illustrations sometimes "mess up" the document so that it cannot be saved any more.

I just removed all equations and illustrations from the file, and then it was possible to save it. But when I undo (so that the equations and illustrations come back), I can no longer save. We are talking about many, many hours of work, so I am a bit annoyed...

Problem solved!

The problem was an illustration, the removal (and recreation) of which resolved the issue:

The problem

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This sounds like you are losing access to the hard drive. I have not encountered this in Word, but I have had a disappearing network share cause this issue with DTP programs. I would take a careful look at your hardware and especially your system events in the event viewer

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But the problem only occurrs with this very particular Word document. If I create a new Word document, I can save that one. And if I remove all text from the problematic document (Ctrl+A, Delete), then I can save it again. [And all other applications work just fine.] – Andreas Rejbrand Apr 22 '11 at 14:48
Everything about your post makes reference to very long time scales and multiple documents. If it is a single document only, you should update your question. – horatio Apr 22 '11 at 14:49
Yes, this has happened for a very long time, and with many different documents. And on different computers. My hypothesis is that Word is buggy, and that formulae and Word illustrations sometimes "mess up" the document so that it cannot be saved any more. – Andreas Rejbrand Apr 22 '11 at 14:50
My hypothesis is that word doesn't know what to do with a disappearing hard drive. In my post I reference a similar experience which I had with a different program (QuarkXPRESS). All other 4-5 programs which I may have had running at the time didn't care the share dropped, but Quark would not allow me to save the document, even locally to my hard drive. I am not certain this is an issue for you, but it looks like a similar problem. The point is that Word might be highlighting an intermittent hardware problem, and may just be a symptom. – horatio Apr 22 '11 at 14:56
I went through the equations and illustrations one by one and found the problem. It was an illustration. It had a background image, so maybe you were right after all. But I thought that images were embedded in the Word file (are they not?). I had to restart Word in order to make the "Use image as background" option to work at all again, but now it works. – Andreas Rejbrand Apr 22 '11 at 15:21

I encountered the same problem and found an easy answer.

  • First, open a new word file. (Let's call it file B).
  • Second, cut the part that prevents you from saving from the original file, say file A.
  • Third, paste part from file A to file B.
  • Fourth, save file B as ms word 1997-2003 format. It might say that you lose some information bla bla... just ignore and save (trust me on this).
  • Fifth, once saving file B is done, copy from file B and paste it on file A on the original place in file A.

Then, save file A normally as word 2007 document.

  1. You will notice that lost features in file B is revived in file A.

  2. Now, file A saves without bugs.

Doing this seems to eliminates buggy parts from file A.

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