The Explorer View is an excellent feature that is integrated with Windows SharePoint Services that allows a user to access a document library as if you were accessing a file system through a Windows Explorer window.
Being end users , everyone might feel that this is very easy to use. But there are multiple complex interactions happening with different technologies to make documents which are not present in file systems to viewable using explorer.
The main protocols that are capable of directly manipulating file data stored in SharePoint are
– WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning)
WebDAV is a simple extension to the HTTP protocol based on a public specification. It provides an extended vocabulary that defines how basic file functions, such as copy, move, delete, and create folder, are performed across HTTP.
– FPRPC (FrontPage Server Extensions Remote Procedure Call)
FPRPC provides WebDAV capabilities using extensions to the HTTP vocabulary, but it also has the ability to embed more complex Remote Procedure Call (RPC) communications in the data portion of the packet.
|Microsoft WebDAV implementation is based on a public standard for authoring and versioning via HTTP||FPRCP is a Microsoft technology that is primarily used for its value-added FrontPage capabilities|
|Cannot work with SSL sites||Can work with SSL sites|
|Can map the site as a drive (mapped drive)||Cannot map the site as a drive (mapped drive)|
|Works only with site which are running under port 80||Works with any sites|
Now, lets check how a document library looks when connected with WebDAV and FPRPC
This is how the document library looks like when opened using WebDAV protocol and in the next picture , we can see the address as \\servername when opening the document library with windows explorer (doc library->actions->open with windows explorer)
This is how the document library looks like when opened using FPRPC and in the next picture , we can see the address as http://servername when opening the document library with windows explorer (doc library->actions->open with windows explorer)
To force explorer view to use WebDAV follow the below settings
- Make sure you have enabled and started the “web client” service on the client machine (services.msc->web client)
- Host sites only on port 80 ; If multiple sites need to be on port 80 , make use of host header with appropriate DNS settings
- Host sites without SSL
To force explorer view to use FPRPC follow the any of the below settings
- Stop and disable the “web client” service on the client machine (services.msc->web client)
- Host sites on any TCP port other than 80
- Host sites with SSL
Important points to be remembered when troubleshooting explorer view issues
- The Ports 137,138,139 and 445 should be opened between the client and the SharePoint server. We can verify it using telnet 137 and it should connect properly. the same can be done for ports 138,139 and 445
- If we trying to access an intranet site using FQDN, its good that we add the site to the Trusted Sites zone on client computers as a dot (.) in the URL will make IE consider that its Internet and accepts the security configuration for internet zone.
- Follow the KB article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/888123 if the error is similar
- Apply if this is applicable http://support.microsoft.com/kb/892211
- If you restart the web client service on the client operating system , its always better to restart the O/S as there are some known issues reported. (operating system prior to longhorn)
- Apply this if suitable http://support.microsoft.com/kb/841215/
- Avoid using Basic authentication . Basic authentication will work fine with WebDAV but has reported issues with FPRPC. If used , force web browser to use WebDAV
- he account BUILTIN\NetworkService must have read and write access to “Temporary Internet Files folder” to successfully complete a drag-and-drop operation.
- Proxies configured in LAN also can cause issues in getting access to the explorer view http://support.microsoft.com/kb/832161/
- Errors with lengthy URLS , follow this http://support.microsoft.com/kb/329919/