Odd issue which I haven't seen before, and which is leaving me baffled.

In a Sharepoint 2013 subsite, I have a single Document Library which has been renamed from the default Shared Documents library. In it there is a directory structure, with some long named directories containing '-' but no other special chars. In the directories are a bunch of Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Visio and Project files. All pretty standard.

If I view the directory structure and files in Windows Explorer (i.e. Open with Explorer command) the directory structure and files contained within are correct. This is my default way of viewing, accessing and editing the files.

However if I view within IE (11, on Win 7) then a bunch of old files that have been deleted or moved to new locations are still visible in their old locations. And if other users add new files to the directory structure I can only see them in the browser.

I've double checked and there is no Version Control/Draft/Check Out/In settings enabled on the Doc Library. I have permissions to Edit/Contribute, and there isn't specific UPs on individual files as far as I can tell. Refreshing, clearing browser cache etc does nothing. This is not happening in other subsites/DLs to my knowledge.

Any thoughts/suggestions greatly appreciated.

  • Was the library created as a part of any particular site template or added though a site feature that you know of?
    – Chris G
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:50

1 Answer 1



Document libraries are actually just a special kind of list in SharePoint. This means that for every document uploaded to a document library, a list item and a file are created. The list UI and CSOM calls allows you to manipulate the metadata (list item) or the document (file). These types of operations are mostly handled at the logical layer.

In addition to this logical layer, SharePoint also has the physical layer. These are files that SharePoint knows about, but are not necessarily exposed via the UI. For example, various aspx pages are stored in the physical layer, but don't exist as part of a list. This means that you won't be able to see them in the UI. Folders and lists look the same at the physical layer, but the logical layer will treat them very differently.

Missing and mis-matched files

To your question, when you move the files around via explorer, you are moving them at the physical layer and not telling the logical layer. The document library still contains a list item that points to a file in a particular logical path regardless if the file actually exists. Conversely, uploading files via explorer will place them in the list's folder, but will not add the associated list item. That document would not be available in the UI and would only be accessible from the explorer view.

Generally, document read/write/delete is done at the logical layer and not through the explorer view to keep the logical layer in sync with the files down at the physical layer.

  • Zach, many thanks for this explanation, which does make a lot of sense. I've just never seen this happen before, be it in SP 2007 or a network based 2013 enterprise installation, and in similar circumstances within the current 365 cloud solution I'm working with now. If this is the case then what it seems I have to do is make a copy of my directory structure locally, then delete it out of the current site, then recreate the directory structure one dir at a time (the Upload function won't allow you to upload a whole directory), and then upload the files one by one to the right directories! Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 13:34
  • Only then will the logical and physical layers match up... Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 13:38

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