SharePoint Troubleshooting

Changes are not saved or checked in when editing a document in SharePoint

This most commonly occurs in SharePoint on premise (SharePoint 2010 or earlier) when using a non-Microsoft browser. For SharePoint on premise, you must use Internet Explorer in order to work with documents. SharePoint Online will work in most browsers. 

Repeated authentication prompts in SharePoint

If you receive repeated pop-ups for username and password (most commonly occurring in Internet Explorer):

  1. Ensure the correct username and password is being used and being typed correctly.
  2. Confirm that you have the proper permissions in place and have been given access to the site.
  3. Confirm that the URL is correct.
  4. Verify that the site has been added to the Local Intranet Sites in Internet Explorer.
  • From the Tools menu, select Internet Options.
  • Click the Security tab.
  • Select the Local intranet security zone and click Sites.
  • Select Advanced.
  • Make sure your URL is in the website list. You only need the root of the URL.
  • To add a URL, enter the address in the "Add this website to the zone" field and click Add.
  • Click Close, and then click OK twice. 

Restricted characters in SharePoint and file name length

The following characters cannot be used in document names:

  • Tilde ( ~ )
  • Pound sign ( # ) – allowed in SharePoint Online document libraries only
  • Percent ( % ) – allowed in SharePoint Online document libraries only
  • Ampersand ( & )
  • Asterisk ( * )
  • Braces ( {} )
  • Backslash ( \ )
  • Forward slash ( / )
  • Colon ( : )
  • Angle brackets ( <> )
  • Question mark ( ? )
  • Pipe ( | )
  • Quotation marks ( “” )

The maximum total file path length (including site name, folders, subfolders and filename) is 260 characters. The maximum length of an individual filename or folder is 128 characters.

Recovering deleted documents

When a document is deleted, it is sent to an internal recycle bin for a specified period of time before being deleted. During this time, it can be recovered. You can recover only items you have deleted. Your site collection administrator can recover any item from the recycle bin.

Access the Recycle Bin link from the navigation on your site. If you do not see your item, contact your local site collection administrator.

In SharePoint Online, documents will be deleted from the recycle bin after 90 days. In local instances of SharePoint, the retention period may be different. 

SharePoint document is locked for editing

One of the most common errors you may experience is the “Document is locked for editing by XXX” where it is your own account that has the document locked. This occurs most often in SharePoint on premise.

During the editing process, SharePoint puts a ‘lock’ on the document in the database to prevent more than one person from making changes at the same time. When the document is saved and closed, the lock should release within 10 minutes; however sometimes the lock becomes corrupted. There are a number of instances where that can happen:

  • Office exits abnormally
  • Network interruption or performance issues, especially if connecting to SharePoint as a mapped drive
  • Library exceeds list item threshold

How to Troubleshoot

If another person attempts to edit the file, do they get the same message about it being locked? If no, and only the creator gets the error message, then the cause is something local on their desktop (scenario 1) and the document is not actually locked in the database. If yes, this is a legitimate locking issue (scenario 2).

Ensure you make a local copy of the document with any changes (Save As) before proceeding or else you may lose all changes. Close all instances of Office.

Scenario 1
  • Check your Upload Center. This appears as a red circle with an arrow in the bottom right corner of the desktop. If not there, you can find it under Start—All Programs—Microsoft Office 20xx—Microsoft Office Tools. Are there documents stuck in the upload center with a status of failed? If so, details should be provided about why (eg. Invalid characters, path not found).
  • As your changes have not been sync’d to the server, make a copy of the document (Save As) before proceeding or else you may lose all changes.
  • Delete any documents stuck in the Upload Center.
  • Re-open the original document from the server and apply any changes from the copied document. Save and ensure the changes are sync’d back to the server. Delete the copied version.

If this does not resolve the problem, continue on to the troubleshooting in scenario 2.

Scenario 2
  1. Check for any orphaned winword.exe process using Task Manager. End the process manually.
  2. Check your Office file cache:

    In Windows Explorer set View to show hidden folders. The cache is usually found under c:\users\<username>\AppData\local\Microsoft\Office\15.0 [or 16.0]\OfficeFileCache. Delete all files

  3. Check the Office document cache. This is different from the OfficeFileCache. The Office Document Cache is used by the Upload Center and can be cleared from within the Upload Center.
  4. Check Credential Manger from Control Panel. Remove all Office and SharePoint related credentials from the vault.
  5. As a last resort, the SharePoint Administrator may release the lock on the server using PowerShell.
Last update:
2018-01-18 14:47
Amanda Wagner
Average rating:0 (0 Votes)

You can comment this FAQ