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Dreamweaver CS4 cannot synchronise: file being used by another process

During a recent stint of web design work, this error message suddenly appeared when trying to sync. my files using Dreamweaver and it caused no end of hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing and sleepless nights.

I run Dreamweaver CS4 on a legacy PC (a home-built machine that’s a bit slow but perfectly alright dedicated to this task). It handles the core website design and then I sync. the files over my LAN to a faster PC where I upload them onto the web server using WS_FTP. This system has worked great for many years and means I’ve kept a mirrored backup as well, so I don’t put all my eggs in one basket (or PC).

Over the past two weeks some file syncing errors suddenly occurred where files would stubbornly refuse to be copied over the LAN, because they were ‘in use by another process’. I tried all the usual culprits, numerous reboots, turning off every unwanted program, safe mode, checking Windows’ services, even using Process Explorer (download from Microsoft TechNet here) but nothing cured this ‘file being used by another process’ error and my web sites risked getting into a mess.

It’s worth deleting every dwsync.xml file found in your site’s _notes folders (maybe hidden) which forces Dreamweaver to sync. from scratch next time. These .xml files contain the site’s syncing data and can become corrupt, but they will only be found on your PC, not on the web server. Sounded promising but needless to say, deleting them still made no difference in my case.

Maybe it was time to upgrade the software: as Dreamweaver CS4 is not compatible with Windows7+  then any upgrade will mean (a) a new PC and (b) subscribing to Adobe CC at £250 per year minimum, for ever more. Another way would be to run a Virtual Machine on a fast PC using free Oracle Virtual Box, and run CS4 that way, but how long would running a PC-within-a-PC last before something else broke? Adobe’s subscription model (which rams new versions down your throat) is something I’m not prepared to pay Adobe at least £3,000 during the rest of my career, so for now I decided to plod on with what I’ve got...

The final stage was a probably long-overdue system rebuild, starting with a new hard disk. Next, Avast Anti-Virus was re-installed, followed by Dreamweaver CS4 and some graphics software. Good job I’m a bit OCD about keeping serial numbers, as CS4 Upgrade needed two of them.

Hooking the rebuilt PC onto my LAN, and darn me if I didn’t have exactly the same file access problem all over again. Dreamweaver CS4 still would not sync files, claiming they were in use by another process.  Worse, I could not even copy them manually in Windows Explorer either, as they were locked and ‘in use by another process,’ making my files totally inaccessible! Now I couldn’t manually copy or FTP them even if I wanted to.

A legacy graphics program was also refusing to launch after the rebuild, and I had to initialise it in Safe Mode to make it start at all. After a long time I found some Exclusion settings in Avast (aha!) that finally allowed the program to run. It was strange that I’d not had to do that before, and maybe it gave me a clue about what’s been going on...

With Dreamweaver file syncing still a major problem and deadlines hurting, after ten days of grief and lost production I started to think about what else, apart from Dreamweaver, could be hogging those files... and eventually the answer was indeed: Avast Anti Virus.

I tried adding an Exclusion for dreamweaver.exe without success. By now I was quite happy to test things without Avast since file syncing had been running normally until ten days ago (mid March 2017, say) and nothing else had changed on my system. This thought suddenly made lots of sense, so I decided to replace Avast Anti Virus with a 3-PC, 2-Year pack of Kaspersky Internet Security 2017 (try the UK Computer Active store for some steep discounts).

Can you believe that, at a stroke, my Dreamweaver system was left purring along without a hitch?

File syncing is working perfectly once again and normality has been restored. I also like the look and feel of Kaspersky Internet Security 2017 compared with Avast, so that’s become my AV program of choice.

I hope the above helps those who’ve got the same Dreamweaver file sync errors that I had.