Seems the links pointing to a file (not bookmark or html page) always *****
no matter which if a dozen programs we've tried. The links to other files in any format (word, excel, PowerPoint, pdf) always disappear.
We managed instead to write some code inside an excel spreadsheet to iterate all documents, then programmatically create the dynamic hyperlinks.
Copy/paste follows now. A pain, but better than res electing everything.
so again, thanks for the help. We'll continue with the excel file from here.