File Locking

Last updated on Sept 15, 2023

Nasuni Access Anywhere provides federated locking services across all mapped storage providers, even if those storage providers don’t support locking themselves.

Overview

A critical feature of shared file systems, file locking is a protection mechanism that prevents two users from editing the same file at the same time. Within Access Anywhere, the first user locks the file before editing. The lock is added to the file metadata tracking who initiated the lock and when. When a second user attempts to edit the same file, the behavior depends on how the user attempts to open the file.

  • If a user opens the file through the Mac or Windows Cloud Drive, the file opens for read access in the associated editor (for example, Microsoft Word in the case of a Word document). When the user makes a change and attempts to save the file, they will be prompted to save it under a different name.
  • If a user tries to open a locked file with Cloud Edit, the file will not be opened on the desktop. Instead, it displays in one of Access Anywhere’s online viewing services, such as the Microsoft online viewer for Office documents.
  • Multiple users can simultaneously co-author documents, presentations and spreadsheets through Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications for the web.

Automatic and Manual Locking

Access Anywhere supports automatic and manual locking. When a file is opened through a desktop application or drive, a lock is usually automatically initiated. The lock is then released when a file is closed.

Users can also manually lock and unlock files themselves through the drive, desktop applications, and the web-based Cloud File Manager.

Lock Permissions

Users can only unlock files they have locked. The Organization Administrator and users with the Admin role can remove any lock.

Locks are not enforced for the org. admin or members with the Admin role when they open a file that is already locked by any user.

The same users can lock and unlock the same file through different applications or even computers. Note that a user can also open the same file for editing on different computers.

Starting with version 2106.07, locks are created with a 24-hour lifespan and, unless they have been extended, expire automatically after 24 hours.

Locking a file will also lock all versions.

Identifying Locked Files

Single-user locked files display a lock icon on the Cloud File Manager and desktop and mobile applications. Files being co-authored display a lock icon and an Editing in Office Online tag. Both sets of locked files display under the Locks section of the Cloud File Manager. The file metadata, viewable in the Cloud File Manager, displays who locked the file and when.

When a user tries to open a file for editing and the file is already locked by another user, the file will be opened for read-only access. Access Anywhere does not provide an option to notify the read-only user when the file becomes unlocked.

Provider File Locks

File locking is supported with all mapped storage providers. In general direct access to the storage outside of Access Anywhere circumvents the lock. Locks for Microsoft 365, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice are, however, synchronized with SMB filesystems.

When a user attempts to upload, update or lock a file through Access Anywhere, a check is made for a lock in SMB. If the file is locked in SMB, an error is returned that the document is locked.

When an office application (Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice) opens a document through an Access Anywhere cloud drive, a lock file is created. This file is detected, and Access Anywhere automatically creates the same lock file in the SMB filesystem. Office applications that are accessing SMB outside of Access Anywhere will then know that the file is locked.

Automatic locking is not supported for the older Microsoft Office file formats such as .xls, .doc and .ppt. Files of these types can be locked manually from the Web File Manager or the desktop tools.

For more information see Storage File Locking.

Troubleshooting

If a file remains locked, it can be because:

  • A user explicitly locks a file and forgets to unlock it.
  • If a file is locked automatically using a desktop app such as Microsoft Word and the App crashes the file then remains locked until explicitly unlocked.

Also, note an Administrator can unlock files (in addition to the user who owns the lock) .

Applications

1 Cloud File Manager (web)

Files can be locked and unlocked from the web file managers on right-click. If a file has a lock icon, it is locked. Display the info panel to see who has locked the file.

2 Windows Cloud Explorer

In the Windows dedicated explorer if you double click on a file to edit then you will be prompted to lock the file prior to it being opened.

3 Windows Cloud Explorer explicit locking

Locking / unlocking   of files from the Windows explorer can also be done explicitly on right click

Files can also be easily locked/unlocked on open/save using Access Anywhere OpenOffice and Microsoft Office toolbar plug-in's.

4 Windows Cloud Drive

Locking from the Windows Virtual drive or WebDAV drive can be achieved explicitly from a right-click file action.

Also if a Microsoft office or LibreOffice file is double-clicked and opened from the drive then the file is auto-locked. The same file is auto-unlocked when the file is closed. A tray icon is shown when this occurs.

RTF files and Autodesk DWG files will also be auto-locked.

5 Cloud Edit

The menu option to open Cloud Edit will not be available if the file is currently locked.

Applications launched from Cloud Edit on Windows lock files. The lock is released when the file is first saved. (Available with Windows since 12.3.23).

6 Microsoft 365 for the Web

Uses can create and edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations individually and collaboratively through Microsoft 365 web applications.

In single-user mode, the edited file is locked and can only be edited by that user. After the web editor is closed, changes are automatically saved, and the lock is released.

In co-authoring mode, a collaborative lock is created allowing other users to join the file editing session. During a co-authoring session, all users work simultaneously on a file and can view edits from other users in real-time. After the last person closes the collaboration file, the file is unlocked.

For more information, see Microsoft 365 for the web.