Remove Novell and Microsoft Word Goes Ape

Here’s an interesting situation. Our company is moving from Novell to Microsoft for our file and directory services. We removed the Novell client from everyone’s workstation and that seemed to work just fine. Then we removed everyone’s rights to said Novell server and everything is still fine. Then shut down said Novell server and bam: opening some Word documents takes 2 to 3 minutes!

Tracing with Regmon and Filemon produced no viable results. No file activity was being done during Word’s hang. Executing “winword.exe /a” also resulted in a long hang. We tried this on three different machines with all the same results, so it wasn’t directly related to the PC itself. The problem? The documents were tied to a document template on the server we took down. The solution was to remove the path to the template under template addins. What to do, however, if you have hundreds of said files?

From here, I found this macro which loops through a folder and changes the template location for each file.

Note that I could only get this script to work by copying the document files to my C: drive and then pointing the script to C: (the script doesn’t seem to like folder names too much). It did, however, remove the template location as expected. Microsoft does have an explanation and a fix for this, including more VBA scripts that do the same thing as the above script.

However, the scripts will take 2 to 3 minutes per file and is just as bad as the original problem. I found out, however, by accident, that putting the offline server name in the HOSTS file with an address of 127.0.0.1 (localhost) works just as well. It is though Word is waiting for a ping response from the server and it waits 2 to 3 minutes for this response. If the hostname is at least pingable, Word in our case would carry on in 15 seconds which was a lot faster.

Update: There’s even a slicker way of changing the template location in each file without having the macro waiting 2 minutes to open each file: disable the onboard NIC. As soon as you do this the script will fly through all the files. I did this in a Virtual PC session running Windows XP. This lets you change the document files without interrupting your normal work. When you are done, simply turn the NIC back on.

– Soli Deo Gloria

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