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Troubleshooting unreadable snapshots in SQL Server Reporting Services

Generated snapshots only viewable once in Reporting Services? Permissions on the RSTempFiles directory could be to blame.

Snapshot reports are convenient because they can be generated quickly, created automatically on a schedule, and they don't consume many server resources when generated. These reports are stored in a temporary directory named "RSTempFiles," usually located in \Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL\Reporting Services. Sometimes, however, a problem occurs when a generated snapshot is only viewable once. Whenever someone tries to view it after that, an error is generated. Usually the error is along the lines of:

Access to path "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\RSTempFiles\RSFile_da9ed300-e4a9-
4f7f-8ee7-48edf9ebedcd" is denied.

(The exact name of the file varies because it's randomly generated with each snapshot, but the basic error is the same.)

This error may be caused by a problem with RSTempFiles directory permissions. Normally the ASP.NET and SYSTEM users have every level permissions over the directory, with the exception of Full Control. Problems arise when the login used by the Reporting Services service doesn't have the same level of control as the users. For instance, you might have this issue if you changed the way services run for the sake of security (i.e., running them in a user account with reduced privileges).

Usually, services are set to run in the context of the Local System Account, but some administrators (and some security configuration packages) prefer to run some services in a more restrictive context just in case. You can determine the context the service is using by launching the Services snap-in from Administrative Tools, double-clicking on the name of the service and selecting the Log On tab.

One way to work around this issue without too much risk or confusion is to set the Everyone group to have the Read permission for that directory. This insures that no matter what user context the Reporting Services service is running in, it'll be able to read that directory.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!

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