Unable to Open Step Output File. The Step Failed.

You may encounter the following error when messing around with a SQL agent job.

Unable to open Step output file. The step failed.

This is generally for one of two reasons.

  1. The folder that is configured in the path for the output file does not exist
  2. The folder configured for the output file does not have the correct permissions assigned to it

To rectify enter the advanced properties for the problematic job step and check the path as in the image below.

step output file

If the path is not correct you will need to check the permissions on the folder and ensure the SQL Agent account can write to it.

If the path is incorrect you can either point it to another folder, or create the folder.

Hopefully you now have a simple and straightforward solution to this common issue.

What Information Does the Step Output File Log?

You might be wondering exactly what information the step output file logs. Well in its simplest form it records the version of the SQL Server Execute Package Utility that is running, and the start and end times of the job that is executed. It also gives a return code from the package execution.

Here is an example below:

Microsoft (R) SQL Server Execute Package Utility
Version 10.50.4000.0 for 64-bit
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 2010. All rights reserved.

Started: 2:39:38 p.m.
DTExec: The package execution returned DTSER_SUCCESS (0).
Started: 2:39:38 p.m.
Finished: 2:39:44 p.m.
Elapsed: 5.866 seconds

You might have also noticed the tickbox that gives you an option to append output to existing file.

If you have this option selected rather than writing a new file each time the job executes, it will instead be appended to the existing file.

Rob StGeorge
Senior SQL Server Database Administrator residing in Auckland, NZ


  1. Thank you! Exactly my problem. I migrated this job from SS2005 to SS2016. I wasn’t aware of the Output file. It still had the old path. Bless you for posting this!

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