Workaround for the Microsoft WORD 2000 file permission error in saving large (>400K) Documents

Saving Microsoft WORD documents larger than a few hundred kilobytes in size on floppy disks in the school computer labs has been problematic for a number of years and through several versions of WORD. WORD 2000 has some new problems with saving files on floppy disks, and a number of students have lost data because of it.  The problem is described, along with a workaround.

Explanation of the historical WORD save problem:

A few semesters ago, we discovered that the WORD save failures were related to wild fluctuations in file size due to the "fastsave" feature that was "on" by default.
In one case, a student repetitively saved a file of 300K in size, and observed the size to increase exponentially, reaching over 4 megabytes, before it unexplainedly was reduced again to its original size.
The inability to save  in WORD 97 and subsequent loss of student data was caused by these file size fluctuations and also by interference by  large temporary files saved on the A: disk.  The problem was exacerbated by Windows NT because, if there was not room on a floppy to save the bloated file, instead of giving a warning, the attempted save operation would continue indefinitely until the computer locked up or the student lost patience with it. Usually, by then, the surface of the floppy disk was pretty well destroyed. The problems could be avoided in WORD 97 by turning off the "fastsave" feature and the "save backup information" feature.
"Fastsave" appends rather than updating. "Save backup" saves large temporary copies on the working disk The temporary files are not deleted if there is an abnormal termination.

New save problems in WORD 2000:

In the network install of Microsoft Word 2000 this semester, the default for the "fastsave" was set to "off", but WORD 2000 has some new problems. File sizes are observed to vary about 2-fold, and  there is a "permission error" that interferes with saving files larger than about 400K. These may be related problems. The error message obtained towards the end of an attempted save is:

On attempting to save the document from memory onto a new floppy disk, an error was obtained that WORD could not find  the original file to read from it.

A second copy of the file, renamed (in this case from WIZMOD2k.doc to WIZMOD2.doc), could be saved along with the original file on the disk, belying that this is purely a size problem, though the renamed copy in this instance was much smaller in size (demonstrating file size fluctuation).


The new problem in WORD 2000 appears to be related to accessing the original disk file for information at the same time as it is written over by the new version.
WORD is known to save information from previous versions of a document and other metadata about the user's system. New versions save even more metadata to make Office documents more readily interconvertible with web pages. This may be why WORD 2000 is more dependent on access to the previous version on disk during the save operation.

The workaround:

The permission error could be most conveniently circumvented by saving a second copy of  the WORD document to the C: drive via SaveAs , then using SaveAs to replace the file of the same name on the A: disk.  In that case, WORD has access to a previous save in both steps of the operation.
Do not attempt to work with a WORD file directly from a floppy disk unless it is small, though larger files can be saved for transport on a floppy disk after saving the original version on the harddrive. Use Windows Explorer to check that your floppy isn't loaded up with other extraneous files.

Other cautions:

(We had a rather dramatic demonstration of WORD's retention of deleted data when a supposedly deleted uncomplimentery remark about an author's boss appeared repetitively in a saved document opened in a text processor, along with information about the author and his computer. Saving the supposedly revised document as html put that same presumed deleted uncomplimentary remark as the title of the webpage!)

The moral of the story is that one should be cautious in using Microsoft WORD, and the need for caution has increased rather than been reduced with new releases.

Other good resources on Microsoft Office workarounds:
Woody Leonhard's websites:

Review of Microsoft's SaveAs html problems:

Don't just use the saveAs html options in Microsoft products to make webpages.   As usual, everything in the world is built into the pages produced this way, and you will have to do a lot of fixing to make it reasonably efficient and workable

back to BA103 syllabus