[Rd] Bug in file.access on Windows when using network shares

Nick Kennedy mli@t@ @ending from nick-kennedy@com
Tue Jul 3 23:08:21 CEST 2018

Dear Tomas,

Thanks for your email. This can be easily reproduced if there is access to
a shared folder. I've reproduced this behaviour on both Windows 7 and
Windows 10.

Steps to reproduce:

1. Ensure Offline Files is turned on within Windows
2. Using Windows Explorer, browse to a folder shared on a network using a
UNC path, e.g. \\mypc\myshare\
3. Create a test file, e.g. test.txt
4. Within R, try the following:

# Returns 0
# Returns -1 if the share is on a non-Windows host, 0 if it is on a Windows

5. Right click on the file within Windows Explorer and ensure 'always
available offline' is checked.
6. Wait for the sync to take place.
7. Disconnect from the network.
8. Within R, try the same commands again

# Returns 0
# Returns -1 regardless of whether the original host was Windows or

In all cases the file is actually readable.

I've created my own version of winAccessW in extra.c at

Almost all of the code in here can be replaced with a simple call to
_waccess, other than the check for executable. This seems to work as
expected. Since _waccess exists as a system call within Windows and has the
same syntax (other than wide characters) as access in POSIX, why not use it?



On 3 July 2018 at 09:21, Tomas Kalibera <tomas.kalibera using gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Nick,
> thank you for your report. In general one cannot know reliably in advance
> whether reading a file will work, if nothing else, there are possible race
> conditions with other applications and/or the system (e.g. a service may
> lock the file, move it away temporarily, etc). The only correct way to
> handle errors is try the read and catch errors. Please note there is a
> disclaimer in ?file.access to this effect.
> If you still want to report a bug in file.access, please provide an
> example that does not require a package, and provide more details (what do
> you think would be the correct behavior, etc). From looking at the code,
> when winAccessW/GetFileSecurityW fails to retrieve information about the
> file, file.access would signal an error, which seems to be a fine behavior
> for me. It is not surprising to me that in some cases (like working on a
> local copy of a file in a distributed file-system), the OS would not know
> whether a file is readable/writeable before trying out on/syncing the
> distributed version.
> Best
> Tomas
> On 07/03/2018 01:11 AM, Nick Kennedy wrote:
>> Dear R-Devel,
>> I've run into an issue with a package (vcfR) that uses file.access to
>> check
>> a file is readable before opening it. The issue is actually in base R
>> though. I've looked into the package code, and it calls file.access(path,
>> mode = 4). I've created a minimal working example of the code in
>> winAccessW
>> from src/gnuwin32/extra.c, and the problem arises when GetFileSecurityW is
>> called on shared files under certain circumstances.
>> One situation I've seen it in are when a file is shared from a non-Windows
>> host (e.g. Linux), which is similar to the situation documented at
>> https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/f57
>> 928d3-d89b-426d-a174-d06d97355afc/how-to-check-if-a-
>> filefolder-is-writable-or-not?forum=windowssdk
>> .
>> The other situation arises when a file is cached offline by Windows
>> Offline
>> files feature. The call to GetFileSecurityW works fine when the network is
>> up (and so the file is being accessed from the share), but fails when the
>> network is down and the file is being accessed from the offline files
>> cache.
>> Is there any reason that there is a custom function here? Windows supports
>> the use of access (as is used on other OSes), although the ISO C++
>> _waccess
>> would be preferred. This seems to work well even in situations where the
>> current code does not.
>> BW
>> Nick
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