Users become 'Inactive' and error "This file is not in a recognizable format" when running report after having changed Controller password (without logging off immediately afterwards)

Technote (troubleshooting)


If the user changes their Controller password and then (without exiting Controller and re-launching Controller) tries to run an Excel-based report, they receive an error.


Imagine a scenario where:

  • 'bad' user is called 'BADUSER'
  • Controller administrator (e.g. 'ADM') logs onto Controller, and clicks "Maintain - Rights - Users" and clicks on 'BADUSER'
  • Administrator sees that the user is set to "Inactive" (this is what happens the user after 3 attempts to run the report - see later) and closes the menu
  • Administrator changes BADUSER to "Active" and resets the user's password

  • The 'bad' user now logs on as BADUSER with this new password
  • During the logon process, user is prompted to change the password. Therefore he/she changes it (i.e. directly after logging into Controller) to a new password
  • BADUSER clicks "Reports - Run" and chooses/runs a user-defined report
  • However, when they click "Preview" or "Send to Application" an error appears:

This file is not in a recognizable format
  • If the user clicks OK, they can re-try running the report
  • If the user tries running the report 3 times, then the user gets set to 'inactive' again.
    • Therefore the administrator must now change BADUSER back to "Active" (and create a new password) to allow the bad user back into the system.


There are many potential causes for this error.

  • For more examples, see separate IBM Technote #1647017.
    This Technote specifically relates to the scenario where the cause is a code production problem (defect reference PM57170) in Controller.

  • Environment

    Controller versions before 10.2.1 FP1 (10.2.5110.85).

    Resolving the problem


    Upgrade to Controller 10.2.1 Fix Pack 1 (10.2.5110.85) or later.

    Ensure that all users (after they change their password) immediately close Controller.

    • In other words, if you log out and back in (after changing the password) then the reports work OK.

    Related information

    APAR PM57170
    1647017 - ** Troubleshooting ** Error 'The file is not

    Document information

    More support for:

    Cognos Controller

    Software version:

    10.1, 10.1.1, 10.2.0, 10.2.1

    Operating system(s):


    Reference #:


    Modified date:


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