Determining Why A Vault File Cannot Be Accessed

Many things can prevent a user from being able to access a file in PDM. This will result in a file that cannot be opened or just a file being locked to read-only. There are a number of ways to release these "locks" but they may require some intervention from a PDM admin.


The three primary ways that a user may be prevented from accessing a file in their vault are:

  1. The file is currently checked out by another user
  2. The file is in a "Private State"
  3. The file is still a "Local File"

This article will go over some ways to identify these files and determine how best to get the files back to accessible in the vault. 

Checked Out Files

When a file is checked out by a user, this means that it is currently in one of your PDM Workflows. A file will show as checked out by another user in your vault and on a different computer. These are both important to note when seeing by whom and where a file is checked out. 

To find all checked-out files, or files checked out by a specific user, the PDM complete search can be used. The complete search card is available in a default PDM configuration:


Once in the complete search card or the Search tool, access the tab titled "Checked in/out," select "Display checked out files," and pick a user from the dropdown if you want to view a specific user. In the "Name and Location" tab, you can specify where you are searching, whether it is a specific project or the entire vault.


When you press Enter after selecting this information, a list will populate with all of the checked-out files pertaining to your criteria (file location and user).

When attempting to check in a file to the vault, you need to be signed in as the user that checked the file out AND on the same device that the user checked the file out on.

If the computer is no longer accessible, then the next thing to do is to attempt to undo the checkout of the file. This can be accessed through the right-click menu and generally requires Admin permissions. If you undo checkout on a file, the changes made by the user since the last checkout will be lost. This is sometimes a necessity to get the file back in though. We encourage users to take caution when performing this action.

Private State Files

Private state files are files that have been saved into a user's PDM vault but have not yet been checked in for the first time. Generally, only the PDM admin will be able to see these files, but in PDM Professional a user folder-permission can be assigned to see these files. 

  • SOLIDWORKS PDM Administration tool > User or Group > Folder Permissions > May see files before initial check-in (Private State)

In most cases, users being able to see Private state files generally just causes clutter, so most of the time it is encouraged to leave this for Admin users.

The first thing to attempt when running into Private State files is to have the user access their vault view and attempt to check the file in. This (as with checked-out files) needs to be done from the original computer the file was saved into the vault with. If checking in the file as the user is not an option, then the PDM admin will likely need to attempt to undo the checkout on the file. This can sometimes be challenging and may result in very little data being stored in the file itself.

If this undo checkout fails, it may be necessary to just delete the file from the vault. This will at least assist in removing excess data with no purpose in the database.

Local Files in Vault Views

Finally, we would like to touch on Local Version files. These files are generated in many ways, but some primary examples of how they may come to exist are:

  • A user has moved a file and the local cache contents of their vault have not been cleared
  • A user has added a file to the vault but it cannot find an appropriate way to be included in the vault (for example, duplicate file names or unexpected file extension)
  • The vault was accessed by another user who had different view permissions and their cached files were left behind (for example, the user computer was accessed by the PDM Admin)

The first thing to try when you have a local file on your computer that did not add to the vault is to right-click and select "Add to file vault."


After attempting the "Add to file vault" action the file may be added to the vault. If not, the file will be left in a "Local File" state. This means that there is likely a conflict similar to the situations mentioned above. If this file cannot be added then consider these next steps.

It may be worth doing a complete search for the file itself in your Vault root. This file may have been moved or renamed and a suitable replacement file may be accessible somewhere else. Here is what you might enter into your complete search:


If you find a duplicate, confirm whether or not your file is able to be replaced by this file, or give your local file a new name. If it seems that the file was moved to a new location, we recommend that the user delete the file from their local vault view.

If this is not the case, then discuss with your PDM administrator whether there is a valid workflow for the file to enter into (i.e. The folder is acceptable for the file to be in, the file extension has an appropriate workflow to be in). If the information in this article doesn't assist you in accessing this data, then consider reaching out to our PDM technical support team below.

Contact Us

For further technical support please contact Hawk Ridge Systems at 877.266.4469 for the U.S. or 866.587.6803 for Canada.

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