Open with Explorer Intermittent Failures

Applies To: SharePoint


I recently created a new web application that will eventually be used quite a bit, but for now we were only moving one site over. Fortunately, the site collection we were moving was the only thing in the Content Database so I just performed a simple Dismount and then Mount and everything was up and running except for the search results. A quick change of the scopes and a Full Crawl takes care of that. I turned it over to the main user and he immediately called me back and said the Explorer View was not working for him.

Then there was much weeping.


I immediately confirmed that it worked on my machine (Windows 7) and assumed he was doing it wrong (Cause I’m a bit of a Jerk). A quick visit to his machine proved I didn’t know what I was talking about. He was running XP and everything was working fine in our other main Web Application on his machine for Explorer View, but not in the new Web App.

He would receive an access denied message stating he didn’t have enough permissions but also that the Network Path was not found. I decided to investigate further at my machine only to find that mine only worked intermittently. Sometimes it would open up just fine, but other times I would receive the message “Your client does not support opening this list with windows explorer.” Something had made my machine a liar.


After a bunch of searching and cross comparing my Web Apps to see what setting I missed, I came across this article on The prostructure blog. Amber Pham lays out the full solution there which I am reproducing here. She got it right but it was so hard to find that I thought rephrasing some things might help the next poor victim find the solution quicker. So it’s below, but it is her solution and I’m very grateful for her help.


Turns out, for whatever reason, a missing root site for the Web Application will cause this issue. Since I was only moving the one site for now, I hadn’t yet created a Site Collection at / (Root Site Collection). I didn’t think this was a big deal – and if you’re not using Explorer View, it’s not. But to correct this issue, go into Central Admin and create a new Site Collection at /. Pick any template you want since you can always change it later. I just ensured that I was the only one who had access to it for now and voila, Open with Explorer suddenly works for my XP clients and consistently works for our Windows 7 clients. Sheesh.

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