Sheryl Canter

Locked & Vanishing Files in Dreamweaver and InDesign

Do you use Dreamweaver? Have you ever been editing a file and then suddenly you can’t save it and Dreamweaver reports the file as locked? And then if you reboot to unlock the file, you discover it has vanished?

Do you use the InDesign book feature? Have you ever saved the book and then discovered that it has vanished?

Both problems appear to occur only with CS4 running on Vista. [[Edit: Not just with Vista: It’s reported in a comment below to have occurred on Windows 7. -sc]] Here are the workarounds.

When you encounter the Dreamweaver locked file bug, just save the file under another name and wait a half hour or so. You don’t have to reboot. The improperly locked file will disappear, and then you can rename the file back to what it was.

The main thing to remember about the InDesign book bug is to always look at the directory after saving the book file to make sure it’s still there. If it has vanished, then use Save As to resave it.

Important: If InDesign prompts you to save the book file on exit, don’t do it! It will prompt you to save it even if you have just saved it and there have been no changes. If you say yes to save on exit, InDesign will delete the file and then it will be truly gone.

I reported the InDesign book bug to Adobe. Somebody from Adobe did email me, but he found it too much trouble to set up a 64-bit Vista test system (my platform) so it wasn’t fixed.

I didn’t bother reporting the Dreamweaver bug because I saw in an internet search that others had and Adobe just ignored the reports.

The CS4 Design Pro Suite costs nearly $2000. Why don’t they fix such serious bugs?


  1. stevo says:

    This just happened to me in DW CS4 and I assumed it was me doing something wrong.

    The thought of rewriting the CSS file from scratch that I was working on is a horrible prospect, I saved in notepad, rebooted Dreamweaver, and found the file had disappeared and I could save a new one with the same name (no ‘this file already exists’ prompt).

    As bugs go it has to be said this is a pretty big one, you could easily lose a great deal of work this way with an accidental click.

    Sort it Out Adobe!

  2. Tapestry says:

    This too, just happened to me in DW CS4; not nice! I guess it’s time to reach out and call Adobe. I’m in the process of redesigning a site I have published since 2004 using FrontPage and was excited to redesign and switch over to Dreamweaver. My excitement has now turned to fear.

  3. Exe says:

    Me too, and I’m running windows 7 with the CS4package
    i opened a file in dreamweaver, modified, tried to save and got the same bug
    i dont get they’re not doing anything about it!

  4. TC says:

    This is a real PIA. My current suspicion is the preview pane in Windows Explorer is causing this: by creating a preview in Windows Explorer (64bit) ‘locks’ an open file. It gets all confused and destroys the file when the open file is saved by an application.

    Disable it and see if the problem returns. Doesn’t seem to be unique to Adobe ~ has happened in WordPad!

  5. billy bob says:

    This seems to be more of a windows issue rather than and Adobe Suite issue.

    I am seeing Vista – Win 7 etc….

    Im on a Mac been running CS4 since it came out (also ran it on XP for a while) all without any issues as stated.

    Neer encountereed the InDesign issue at all – BUT if you all are having locked File issues w/ DW – I do suggest checking the Preference Settings involving file Check In / Check Out and make sure that is NOT active. This sometimes defaults to ON when you set up a Test Site in Site Manager.

    BUT the setting is in PRefs not Site Manager.

    And again – Ive never had theses issues on a Mac.

  6. TI says:

    After working on a file in Dreamweaver CS4 for about 4 hours, I was about to close shop. Everything was working and saved. IE9 was the only window open (I usually work in Firefox) and I discovered a comma out of place. I re-opened the file in DW, fixed the little item but couldn’t save the file (I was told I didn’t have access). The file vanished and all the work with it. After a lot of !@#&# I backed up the remaining files on a separate drive

    Is there a way of recovering the file?

  7. Ugh. This is the bug I’m describing in my post. When you couldn’t save the file, you should have saved it under another name. That was the sign it was about to vanish. Once it vanishes, I don’t know of any way to get it back.

    What did you do when you couldn’t save the file – just not save it (since it was just a comma)? At what point did the file vanish – after a reboot? What is your operating system?

  8. TI says:

    I could possibly have saved the file if I’d researched the problem the second it happened. Of course, I did what most self-respecting web masters would do, tried to work on the problem myself.

    Actually, I was unable to do anything, including saving the file under a different name. As you said, it was just a comma, so I ended up closing DW. The file was visible in the directory for a while, but I was unable to re-open it. All of a sudden the file was also gone from the directory.

    My operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium.

  9. It’s important to know it can occur on Windows 7, too. I edited the article to reflect that. I had written it was only Vista. Sorry for your pain, but thanks for posting this.

    I’m surprised you couldn’t save the file under another name. I was always able to do that, but I had the problem with Vista. I haven’t had the problem under Windows 7. I’m running Windows 7 Ultimate – maybe that makes a difference. Of course you could always do Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C to copy the entire contents of the file, then paste it into Notepad and save it that way.

  10. TI says:

    My computer is custom made to work with the Adobe programs in particular. Vista was available when the computer was made, but I preferred Windows XP. It crashed recently and I took the opportunity to install Windows 7.

    The last several days the DW vanishing files phenomenon has occurred several times, but I have been able to do the “save as” recovery.

    This is what I have observed (I don’t know if it’s a co-incidence yet): If I open the file from the file folder (“Open with… DW CS4”) the file has a tendency to disappear. If I open the file directly from DW (any which way, “Recent Item” or “Open…”) the file will behave normally and not get lost.

    I hope this is a solution for now, then we’ll see if it has been fixed in CS6.

  11. RN says:

    This has just happened to me too – Windows 7, Dreamweaver CS4. It happened before I’d done any significant editing, so I just shut down Dreamweaver expecting the file to revert to it’s old state; but it’s vanished completely and yesterdays work is lost.

  12. Stella says:

    Exactly the same is happening to me too only that the problem not only occurs with Dreamweaver but also with Codepad and even with the Editor!!! What happens is that suddenly a html file cannot be opened – access denied – neither with DW nor with Codepad. I can open it with the Editor though, but I cannot save any changes! So I have to save the file with a different name, then try to open that file with Codepad – same as before: acess denied also to the renamed file. Then I go back to the original file and – mysteriously – then I can open it with Codepad!

    However, working with Codepad and the Editor the files usually don’t dissapear completely, they are just not accessible with Codepad or DW. Working with DW you can watch them disappear completely just as discribed above!

    I have googled the issue a bit and have found no real explanation. This seems to happen from 2009 onwards with different versions of DW (DW8, CS3, CS4, CS5) and different (Windows) operating systems (Vista, Windows 7)

    … I have tried a few things now and I think this has nothing to do with Dreamweaver or another programme but is an issue related solely to the windows explorer!

  13. If the files only disappear with DW (that is the serious bug), then the disappearing is related to DW.

  14. James W says:

    I know this is a very old post, but I wanted to thank you for solving my mystery. I’m working on a book on Indesign in CS4 on Windows 7. Twice now I’ve had a day’s worth of work vanish into thin air.

    Fortunately the second time it happened, I’d saved the doc in two places. One was saved as a “Save As” on a thumb drive – that file was fine. But the one I’d saved to my desktop was missing the work. I very clearly remember quitting out of the program and having it ask me if I wanted to save my changes (even though I’d already saved them). Won’t be doing that again.

  15. Tere says:

    Actually just happened to me and I use DW CS3! So guess it’s not just a CS4 issue. Luckily I did save the file in another name before the original disappeared. I was just checking online for an explanation of why this happened

  16. deKay says:

    And this is happening here in Dreamweaver CS6, on Windows 7 (64).

  17. No surprise that it’s still happening. When I reported the bug to Adobe, they insisted it was something wrong with my computer and not with their product. So they didn’t look for it, didn’t fix it. Arrogance – and at the prices they charge!

  18. deKay says:

    I suspect it may be down to how sites are set up when they’re stored on a network share or drive, but at the moment I can’t pin it down to that.

  19. It has nothing to do with that. That was not my setup. It was just a single computer.

  20. Jack Skinner says:

    I am running on windows 8.1 with Dreamweaver CS6 CC. I too have encountered the vanishing file syndrome. However, I had no heads up that it was going to happen. I was working on my assignment, when I encountered the difference between my school book chapter 5 using AP DIV’s, and my software which has removed AP DIV’s all together. So I saved the work, closed up shop for the night to email instructor in the morning on how to proceed. TO MY SUPRISE when I went to continue, the file did not exist. Its frustrating enough to have to learn new software, with missing features, or improved features not explained in the course books, its is disheartening to have spent all that time and have to do it over.

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