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Fixing "Excel Cannot Connect to SharePoint List" Error

By hagrin - Posted on 23 November 2009

Recently, seemingly at random, our company's SharePoint sites all experienced a serious error when trying to utilize the "Export to Spreadsheet" list functionality. When users would click on "Export to Spreadsheet" everything would seem normal - users would get a prompt asking them to either Open or Save an .iqy file, (assuming you choose Open) Excel would launch, depending on the user's security they would get the macros warning and then ... error. The error reads -

"Excel cannot connect to SharePoint list."

That's pretty much it - no details, no stack trace, no real logging, no event log notification - nothing. With pretty much no information to go on and nothing in our Change Management Log for our SharePoint server farm, I started troubleshooting this issue mainly in the dark. Turning to the search engines, I definitely didn't find much information on this error and even less when taking into account we were running Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) v3. I tried a few of the fixes I found online with no success. At this point I opened up a case using my MSDN incidents and started working with Microsoft. The MSFT tech had me check some of the basic issues such as what authentication type my site was using (Kerberos vs. NTLM), some user permissions, SQL security, etc. However, he finally found the issue when we opened up the web.config file located at C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\ISAPI. In this web.config file, there was the following entry -

.0.0.0,Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35" priority="1" group="0" />

According to the MSFT tech, this entry is due to the fact that at some point Web Services Enhancements (WSE) 2.0 was installed on the server (although, I really have no recollection of this ever occurring - maybe this was done through a patch?). By removing this line from the web.config specified above and performing an iisreset /noforce, I then tried exporting to Excel and the functionality was restored. Hopefully, if you are encountering this article, I can save you a support call to Microsoft.