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  1. #1
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    SYSTEM.MDW and Database Documenter

    Greetings, all! This is my first post to the forum. (after searching the archives, of course <img src=/S/wink.gif border=0 width=15 height=15>)

    We have been running Office 97 on 4000 Windows NT 4.0 for about 3 years now, and have locked down the desktop using NTFS security. This includes setting the SYSTEM.MDW file to be read-only. We did this to ensure that our helpdesk wouldn't receive calls about people futzing up Access workgroups and causing themselves grief; instead, we secure databases on our LAN using NTFS security assigned to NT groups, and add users to groups as necessary -- standard practice for LAN administration outside the Access world, plus our helpdesk staff already understand NT networking security.

    However, with an upgrade to Office 97 SR-2B, we can no longer run Tools | Analyze | Documenter -- we get error messages saying that SYSTEM.MDW is open exclusive by another user, or one needs permission to view its data. By giving users change access to SYSTEM.MDW, the problem goes away; unfortunately, as described above, the perception is that we then open ourselves up to helpdesk calls and user confusion. I also find it curious that Documenter worked on all previous Access 97 flavours, and that Documenter is the only tool impacted by read-only access to SYSTEM.MDW.

    I've evaluated Total Access Analyzer from FMS, but it has similar problems with SYSTEM.MDW being read-only.

    Anyone have any good ideas on how to get around this? Anyone else ever come across this?

    Once I get a bit of feedback from the group, I'll share some of what Microsoft Premier Support suggested about this -- very interesting! <img src=/S/sarcasm.gif border=0 width=15 height=15>

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    Re: SYSTEM.MDW and Database Documenter

    Dear DarryDoo,

    There are several basic steps you should take to eliminate known problems.

    A file called yourdbname.ldb can be left in a directory and cause this type of problem See post

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    Re: SYSTEM.MDW and Database Documenter

    Have you considered using a second workgroup file for the database security? Then if something else modifies the generic system.mdw file problems aren't created for you.

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    Re: SYSTEM.MDW and Database Documenter

    Thanks for your reply, Rupert, but this issue is simply what it appears to be: changing the NTFS security on SYSTEM.MDW in Access 97 SR-2B (and no other version of Access 97) prevents the Database Documenter from working. Nothing else at work here.

    This has been tested with a number of databases, including newly-created ones, on a dozen or so PC's.

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    Re: SYSTEM.MDW and Database Documenter

    Good point, Andy; I've considered it as an alternative. In short, we don't want users in our enterprise implementing their own (unsupported) security on Access databases, that we already address using NTFS security and NT networking groups -- which is why SYSTEM.MDW has been read-only for lo these three years! <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 width=15 height=15> That solution would also require someone (probably helpdesk) to overwrite the broken SYSTEM.MDW to resolve the issue, and if you understand Gartner statistics, you realize that that's expensive in terms of time and effort, especially if it happens frequently.

    If I may rant for a moment:
    SYSTEM.MDW was made originally made read-only as per Microsoft's instructions; the Zero Administration Kit for rolling out secure Windows NT workstations recommends this by example, for the support reasons I mentioned initially. Now Microsoft says that they require that SYSTEM.MDW be made read/write. Except on Terminal Servers, where it should be read-only. <img src=/S/nuts.gif border=0 width=15 height=15>

    Interestingly, Access 2000 and Access XP don't have this problem, because they use ADO instead of DAO to retrieve information for the Documenter, and versions of Access prior to SR-2B work fine (but I'm not permitted to tell you why).

    At this point, all I really care about is finding some alternative method for my users to be able to run Documenter on their databases (or use a 3rd-party tool that will do the same thing) while running SR-2B. And since we're gonna be using SR-2B at least until 2002... I need to find a solution that doesn't impact our helpdesk, nor our security model. Help! <img src=/S/dizzy.gif border=0 width=15 height=15>

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