I use synchronization a lot on my machines. Excel changes the modification date right at the very moment it opens the file. Then, it changes the contents of the file (I guess to update the statistics embedded in the worksheet). Then, if user didn't mean to save the file, it changes the date back to the original. This behaviour confuses a lot my synchronization scheme (Unison), forcing me to resolve lots of conflicts manually.

The Unison is known to circumvent this problem by ignoring modification times for Microsoft Excel files and always comparing file contents. Unfortunately I often open the same files simultaneously on many machines, and never save changes there, and subsequently I am forces to resolve conflicts upon next synchronization event. Besides, hashing a lot of large Excel workseets is slow.

Is there any way to turn off this "feature", or circumvent it? Perhaps some read-only on demand container for the files. But then - what if I do want to save the file? I can't do it on read-only medium, right?

  • just as a suggestion - have you thought about disabling automated calculations for those excel files? i know this has it's downsites, but it might be appropriate. – Jook Sep 20 '12 at 8:42
  • Unfortunately Excel changes the file regardles of calculation or automatic calculation state. – Adam Ryczkowski Sep 20 '12 at 14:46

You could try using Excel's protection feature - "Mark as final", and then the workbook will be opened as read-only by default.

Another option is the workbook protection feature of excel, which would prompt you when opening the file, if you want to open the file as read-only or enter the password and edit it.

These methods should keep the file untouched.

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