Office freezes due to error "There was a problem connecting to the server "XXXXX". (server name varies)"

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I use Excel daily, currently version 16.28 (19081202).  Today it started randomly freezing (spinning beach ball) for 30 to 60 seconds, always ending with the error dialog "There was a problem connecting to the server "XXXXX".  (server name varies)  This occurs while I am working ONLY with local files.  I believe that I have determined that Excel is attempting to access files which are in the "Open Recent" menu and which are on a currently inaccessible server.

The behavior is triggered at these times:

a) About 15 seconds after opening the application, without opening any documents or taking any actions

b) By attempting to open the "Open Recent" submenu

c) Sometimes by attempting to open the "File" menu, but not always

The behavior can be avoided by these actions:

1) Connecting to the server(s) appearing in the error dialogs

OR

2) Using File> Open Recent> More… to remove non-local files from the "Recent" list.

I have had some success with (2), I now have a server file that appears in the "Open Recent" submenu but which does NOT appear in the "Recent" list, so that I cannot remove it.

Any solutions or workarounds?  Is anyone else experiencing this?

I have the exact same issue and downgraded back to 16.27 using my time machine. I am awaiting fix from MS.  I have tried eliminating all server references in Finder but to no avail.  Its the recent file system that keeps the server reference from my work server and I was travelling. I may try confirming this week but it is no use if you travel allot.  Lucky I had access to my time-machine to downgrade.  Wasted allot of my time last week.

 

Question Info


Last updated November 15, 2019 Views 904 Applies to:
Answer
Answer

Hi All,

We are aware of this issue. To benefit all community members to see the latest updates of this issue more easily, I will post a summary here:

Scenario:

==========

As long as there’s any file names of the files stored in server showing up in the recent file list, Office apps will freeze and get error message that Office can't be launched due to error "There was a problem connecting to the server "XXXXX". (server name varies)"

Environment

=========

Since Office for mac 16.28

Issue is happening with multiple apps. PowerPoint/Word/Excel

Issue is happening with multiple servers with different server names.

Workaround:

=========

1.       Removing those file names from the recent list

2.       Connecting server with credentials

3.       Reverting back to 16.27

Assessment

=========

It has been confirmed by other members that updating to 16.29 can get rid of this issue.

Besides, I would like to share another issue solution that you may encounter after using 16.29. 

If you install directly the 16.29 version, you may find the recent list doesn't work. 

For this case, we have found the solution to get rid of that from other thread. That is:

1. Remove 16.29 version.

2. Install the 16.28 version back first.

3. Check for updates to update manually from 16.28 to 16.29.

Other members have confirmed that will work for them.

Regards,

Rena

[Updated by Rena Yu MSFT, 07:13 AM Sep 15, 2019(UTC)]

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All,

We were unable to reconnect to our server(drive failure) and Word/Excel wouldn't open for long enough to remove the recent files. Rolling back wasn't an option for us either.

I found the most helpful solution here:

https://www.tech-otaku.com/mac/removing-entries-microsoft-office-apps-recent-files-lists-macos/

The only downside, is it removes everything in your recent/pinned/shared-with-me lists.

Did this solve your problem?

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