File Locking

Last updated on November 18, 2021

The Enterprise File Fabric provides federated locking services across all mapped storage providers, even if those storage providers don’t support locking themselves.

Appertains to:

  • SaaS hosted Service
  • IaaS Use
  • Enterprise on-premises use


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 the File Fabric the first user “locks” the file before editing. The lock is added to the file metadata tracking who made 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 they are opening the file through the Mac or Windows Cloud Drive, the file will be opened 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 the user tries to open a locked file with CloudEdit, the file will not be opened on the desktop. Instead it may be opened for viewing automatically in one of the Fabric’s on-line viewing services such as the Microsoft on-line viewer for Office documents.

Implicit and Explicit Locks

The File Fabric uses implicit and explicit locking. When a file is opened through a desktop application or drive implicit locks (aka auto-locks) are created. These locks are released when the file is closed and any changes uploaded.

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

Lock Permissions

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

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.

Locks do not expire automatically. Manual locks are often used to temporarily prevent files from being modified or deleted.

Locking a file will also lock all versions.

Identifying Locked Files

Locked files are identifiable by the lock icon seen in the Cloud File Manager and in desktop and mobile applications. The files that are user has currently locked are also listed in the Cloud File Manager under LOCKS. The file metadata, viewable in the Cloud File Manager through “File Info” shows who currently has the file locked, and when they locked it.

Provider File Locks

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

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

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

Note that implicit locking is supportable 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.


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).


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 the File Fabric OpenOffice and Microsoft Office toolbar plug-in's.

4 Windows Drive file locking

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 App is closed. A try icon is shown when this occurs.

5 Mac Drive Locking

The Mac Drive also features explicit file locking and unlocking. Locked files can be identified on the drive by the lock icon against the file.

As with the Windows Drive if office files are launched directly from Mac Finder then they are auto-locked and auto-unlocked on exit.

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 Office Online

The Office Online editors, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint lock files on open. When the edit (the webpage) is closed the file is updated and the lock is released. This may take several minutes.

If a file is opened via Team Edit all participants can collaboratively edit the file.

7 Zoho Office

Zoho editors lock files on open. The file will be unlocked on Save. If the file is opened for editing but not saved then a user has to proceed with a manual unlock from the File Fabric.

If a file is opened via Team Edit all participants can collaboratively edit the file.