Save/Copy bug in Windows and Office
A newly found bug in Windows 11 & 10 might stop you saving or copying files in many apps including some versions of Microsoft Office.
The bug appears to have been in Windows for a while but only revealed in the last few days (late May 2023). Office users might get ‘Document not saved’ errors and other apps might show errors when files are saved or copied.
The only apps affected are 32-bit apps which are large address aware. People might know if an app is 32-bit (see below) but rarely know about its ‘large address’ awareness. According to Microsoft, the bug is more likely to appear when there’s also “commercial/enterprise security software which uses extended file attributes.”
Affected versions of Windows are the ‘22H2’ releases of Windows 11 and Windows 10. Also the ‘21H1’ variants of Windows 11 and Windows 10.
The good news
The good news is that the bug is fairly limited and doesn’t happen all the time. Just trying the save or copy again (with fingers crossed) might work.
Says Microsoft “This issue is unlikely to be experienced by consumers using Windows devices in their home or on non-managed commercial device.”
64-bit Office is OK
64-bit apps, including Microsoft Office, are immune from this save/copy bug.
Microsoft has defaulted to installing 64-bit Office for the last few years. It’s the better choice unless there’s a specific reason to use 32-bit (usually compatibility with other apps/add-ins).
In practice, older versions of Office (say Office 2016 and before) are more likely to have 32-bit Office than anyone using Microsoft 365, Office 2021/2019.
To check the ‘bitness’ of your Microsoft Office, go to File | Account | About … then look at the right of the top line.
Microsoft says to “attempt to save or copy again. Since the issue is intermittent, it is likely to succeed on a subsequent try.”
Another option is to switch to a 64-bit app, if available and possible.
If you’re affected, keep an eye on Microsoft’s Known Issues page. In the Summary at the top, look for ‘Saving or copying files might intermittently fail’ and hopefully the Status will change from ‘Confirmed’ to ‘Resolved’ or at least ‘Mitigated’.