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Offline Files in Windows XP

Thursday, December 2, 2010 Leave a Comment

What is Offline Files ?

Offline files is a feature in Windows operating systems to use network files even though we are not connected to the network. This is a very useful feature for laptop users who want to access network shares even when they are not connected to the network. For this you just have to select which folders you want to use in offline mode. These selected folders will be copied by Offline files to the local disk. When you disconnect your machine from the network, all the file access requests will be redirected to the local copies by Offline Files. You can find below how to use Offline Files feature in Windows XP.

What's great about it? I can manually copy the files to my laptop!

Offline Files also handles synchronization. It tries to keep the local folders up to date with the network folders. When you copy files manually, you need to sync the files periodically to ensure that the files you have on local machine are the latest. Offline files takes care of this automatically. And the whole thing is transparent from the user point of view. The files you used to access with UNC path(ex: \\server\share\file1.doc) can be accessed using the same path even in disconnected mode. So all the applications which access these network shares will continue to work without causing any issues with file paths.

It also handles synchronization from client to server. Suppose you modified files on your machine in disconnected mode. When you connect the machine to network, Offline Files copies the modified files to the network share. Offline files can also identify synchronization conflicts in scenarios like some one else modifying the same files before you sync your changes.

What versions of windows have offline files feature?

Look at the table below.

Yes - Has 'Offline Files' feature
No -Does not have 'Offline Files' feature

Windows 2000 Yes
Windows XP Home No
Windows XP Professional Yes
Vista Home No
Vista Home Premium No
Vista Ultimate Yes
Vista Business Yes

How does it work? How can one access the network files in offline mode?

The logic behind Offline Files is very simple. When we mark a folder for offline cache, Offline Files copies all the files from the network share and stores them on the local disk. When the machine is disconnected from the network, Offline Files detects it and forwards all file access requests to the local copy.


I marked a folder \\server\share for offline cache. I am connected to the network. Which one is used when I try to access \\server\share\file1.doc ? Server copy? or the local copy?

Offline Files comes into picture only when the share is offline i.e. the network share is not accessible to the client(Either the client or server is disconnected from the network). So when you are online, all the file access requests go to the server as usual.

What operations can I do in offline mode?

Add/Delete/Modify files
Add Directories

All file operations that can be done while in online mode can also be done in offline mode, the only exception being deleting a folder.

What happens when I change/add/delete files in offline mode?

The modifications will be applied on the local copies. When the machine is reconnected to the network, Offline Files synchronizes the changes with the server copies.

What are the configurable options in offline files?

Few of the configurable options are in
My computer -> Tools -> Folder options -> Offline Files

What is 'Disk space for temporary cached files' option in Offline files settings?

This is the limit for temporarily cached files. Note that this in no way limits the space occupied by the cached files.

What is the maximum limit for the size of cached files?

There is no space limit. You can mark any number of folders for offline cache as long as you have free space on the drive having the Offline Files folder.


Please see below articles to know more about Offline Files in Windows XP.


Configuring Windows XP Offline Files
  1. How to Enable offline files in Windows XP
  2. How to Disable Offline Files in Windows XP
  3. Making a network share available offline in Windows XP
  4. How to view offline files in Windows XP
  5. Offline Files folder location in Windows XP 
  6. Disable Offline Files for redirected folders in XP
  7. Offline Files: Excluded File Types
XP Offline Files Synchronization

  1. Offline Files Synchronization
  2. Disable logon/logoff synchronization in XP
  3. Stop other users offline files synchronization in XP

Managing XP Offline Files Cache

  1. Delete Offline Files Cache in Windows XP
  2. Windows XP cache size limit 
  3. Updating Cache when share moved to new server 


Issues with Offline Files Usage in Windows XP

  1. Make Available offline greyed out
  2. Enable Offline Files greyed out
  3. No Offline Files tab in Folder Options in Windows XP
  4. Recovering Offline Files in Windows XP 
Offline Files registry keys in Windows XP

  1. ExtExclusionList registry key
  2. Disable Offline Files using registry keys
  3. FormatDatabase registry key to delete cache 
Group policy settings for managing Offline Files in XP
  1. Group policy for Slow link configuration
  2. Group policy for disabling logoff Synchronization in XP
Offline Files Tools for Windows XP
  1. How to move offline files cache to another location in Windows XP
  2. CSCCMD tool to manage offline files cache in Windows XP 

5 comments »

  • Mike Niller said:  

    Hello,

    i want to say thank you for a great job you've done on your blog.
    I have a software download website and I also write articles for people to help them with their computers and software. Is it possible to place this article on your blog as a guest post?

    Regards,
    Andy G.

  • Techblogger said:  

    Andy, I am OK with it if it has some relevance to this blog topic. Let me know your email id, I would get in touch with you.

  • 0xG said:  

    One question:
    Who are you?
    (I find "anonymous" blogging a little suspicious)

    Also, I have a cool new tool from M$ called "CSCEvtMon.exe"
    You can guess what it does.
    Answer the question, and Santa may pay a visit...

  • Daulbeh said:  

    Hello,

    Our customers have the issue that Windows XP initiate an offline folder sync when connected to their home wifi network or through the mobile data connection. Do you know what the cause is for this and how to configure this behaviour?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Jahid Hasan said:  

    GSCopy Pro v6.0 (RoboCopy Alternative) with Open File Agent
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