Offline Files

Offline Files

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One of the key things that we focused on for Windows Vista was improving the experience for mobile (laptop) users.  If you are like me, you spend quite a bit of time running around with a laptop.  However, when I am in my office, I tend to use my desktop.  The primary way that I share files between my desktop and my laptop is by storing them on a Windows Server (it's also the primary way that I make sure that my files get backed up).  For example, at Microsoft we redirect the "Documents" folder (previously known as "My Documents" in Windows XP) to a share on the server (of course, we use access controls on the folders to make sure that I am the only person who can see my files).

By redirecting key folders like the Documents folder to a file share, my documents are available to me no matter which one of my Windows PCs I am using.  The problem of course is what happens when I don't have access to the server -- such as when I am not on the corporate network or perhaps sitting on an airplane.  Frankly, the same problem exists with any file share that I might try to access when I am not on the corporate network.

Well, as it turns out, we have had a very cool feature in Windows (actually, it's been there since Windows 2000) called "Offline Files."  (We actually used to call it "Offline Folders.")  As the name implies, Offline Files allows you to mark particular folders (and their sub-folders) to be available offline.  When you are on the network, Offline Files automatically synchronizes the folders so that you have a copy of them locally on your hard disk.  Then when you are offline (and don't have access to the actual server), Offline Files makes it look like you are online by simply accessing the locally cached copy.  Later, when you do have access to the file share, Offline Files automatically synchronizes any changes you have made offline with the online version and vice-versa.

So why am I telling you about a feature that's been available since Windows 2000 here in the Windows Vista Team blog?  Well, frankly, because we have made quite a few enhancements in the Offline Files support for Windows Vista.  Here are some examples.

In Windows XP, the transition from online to offline was pretty seamless -- which was good.  The problem was that when you came back to the network and tried to reconnect, it was sometimes less than seamless -- and we fixed that with Windows Vista.  Now, when Windows Vista detects that the server is available, not only do we automatically synchronize any files and folders that changed, but we also automatically redirect any open files to the online copy.

Another thing that always bugged me before Windows Vista was the fact that there was no way to force the transition to "offline mode."  I don't know about you, but before I get on a plane for 5 hours I want to make sure that all the documents that I need are locally available on my laptop.  Prior to Windows Vista, I had to manually turn off my wireless card to make the system think I was offline.  The problem there was that it was a complete disconnect that killed my connection to the Exchange Server.  Now, with Windows Vista, there is a button right in the Explorer tool bar (that is available whenever I am looking at a file share) called "Work Offline" that automatically forces the transition to offline mode.  Of course, when you click the button it changes from "Work Offline" to "Work Online" so that you can force the transition back.  This is a simple way to verify exactly what you will see when you are travelling to double-check that you have everything that you need.

We did some other "fit-and-finish" things to Offline Folders to make it more usable as well.  One example of this is the way that we synchronize the offline files with the online copy.  Offline Files in Windows Vista keeps track of the blocks that are modified while offline and only transfers the changed blocks to the server.  This makes synchronization of changes from the client to the server much faster. I should note that this optimization is only used when transferring changes from client to server; it is not used when transferring changes from the server to the client.  I should also note that some applications (like Microsoft Word) create a new file when you modify an existing document, so you won't see the benefit here.

We also changed the synchronization approach so that we now only try to synchronize the shares for the user that is logged on.  This addresses a problem that users would hit in the past when we used to try to sync all offline folders and the user saw an "access denied" error for the folders that actually belonged to someone else.  Navjot Virk, the program manager for Offline Files, wrote a great blog entry on Offline Files that covers this in more detail and I encourage you to check it out.

There are many ways you can turn on Offline Files.  The simplest way is to browse to a file server, right-mouse to get the context menu for the folder or file that you want to be automatically cached, and select "Always Available Offline."  You are done; it's just that easy.  Work with the files/folders just like you would normally whether you are travelling (and disconnected from the network) or working at your desk (and connected to the network).  Windows Vista's Offline Files automatically synchronizes all the changes for you without you having to do anything.

Offline Files 2 

If you want to force a manual synchronization, then right-mouse on the folder/file and select "Sync."  You can of course use the "Sync Center" to do this, too.

If you want to have your entire "Documents," "Desktop," "Music," etc., be located on a server (or perhaps different servers), but cached (and synchronized) locally, then simply change the location of the folder to be on a server (or another client) and then mark the folder on the server to  be available offline.  See below.

Offline Files 1 

So if you are like me and you work with multiple Windows PCs and sometimes are not on your main network, go give Offline Folders a try on Windows Vista.  If you are someone who tried it before on Windows XP, then I think you will be very happy with the enhancements we've made in Windows Vista.


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  • There have been several questions on this blog regarding excel and word and the tmp files they create causing syncing errors yet none have been aswered. Come on MS give us an answer as I have the same problem but it's with a .pst file. And before you say anything, yes I am closing Outlook before I sync.

  • This is by far the most buggy feature I have encountered in Vista so far.

    Among the problems:

    - Drives stubbornly refuse to reconnect. Instead Vista maintains the "offline ghost". Must connect using alias network name to get to the actual drive.

    - Sync center will refuse to resolve conflict when choosing "keep local". Besides being a usability desaster.

    - Drive will go sporadically offline when under load (e.g. when you copy a large file to it, other applications will suddenly see the offline version or nothing. infuriating when you try reading a pdf.)

    - many applications are not able to work with offline files. had this problem with Subversion client and Latex.

    some of these issues are currently sent as a support request to the Chinese support teams, but so far I'm not sure they have any clue, they just keep telling me to boot in clean mode (doesn't help). It just seems clear to me this is still very buggy.

    --> Stay away from offline files, use SyncToy

  • Is anybody reading our comments?

    Here's another question: it looks like the old XP limitation about the architecture constrain of offline files at login is still there. When your CSC folder starts growing, the time the computer takes to becom responsive at login, increases: the disk led indicator flashes continuosly, the computer is slow, and you would like to throw your portable out of the window.

    We were told that things would ahve changed in Vista, but to me is exactly as before.

    Why is that?

  • agotay
    1 Posts

    We have Corporate laptops machines with Vista Enterprice edition and we use Offline Files. All laptops are in the domain and have a GPO to enable and encypt the offline files. After the SP1, now we receive the "Access Denied Error" at all Vista laptops, no issues to other Windows versions.

    Here are some of the workarounds we all ready did without luck;

    1.Change from the OU one of the laptops, disable the Offline Files, reboot, and enable offline files againg.

    2.Change the security for the \\fileservername\share\userfolder folder to Everyone Full Control.

    3.Enable the opportunistic locking at the server.

    4.Reset and Delete the "C:\Windows\CSC" folder

    5.On laptop we add the registry key; [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\MRXSmb\Parameters] "OplocksDisabled"=dword:00000000

    6.On the File Server we add the registry key; [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters] "EnableOplocks"=dword:00000001

    7.Check for changes on the current GPO and not changes have been made after March 2008.

    8.Remove and move againg the laptop to the OU an verified that they receive the GPO policies from the domain and they apply just fine. GPO Details are;

    List of applicable Group Policy objects:

    -OS Settings - Screen Saver Timeout

    -Software Settings - Corporate Office 2007 Default Doc  Extension

    -Software Settings - Corporate Blocked Content

    -Software Settings - Global IE Settings

    -OS Settings - CA Certificate Enrollment

    Default Domain Policy

    -Desktop Settings-SDC Laptop Users Screensaver settings

    -Desktop Settings - Folder Redirection and Std. Mappings

    -IT Homepage.

    9.At mentions to install a hotfix but the files versions that mentions (Kernel32.dll and Cscsvc.dll) are more new on the laptop now than the ones the KB says.

    10.After the sync we receive the access denied error no matter on were OU is in the laptop.

    Without Offline Files enable the users can successfully use their data via UNC or Mappings. They can change, rename, deleting, etc... Then, after enabling the offline files again and when doing the sync we receive the access denied error again on must of the files.

  • I successfully encrypted my offline files.  Then I decided to unencrypt them. I have Vista Ultimate sp1.  The unencrypt process never ends, the little green progress bar keeps running...but when I look at the offine files, the "encrypted" field says "no".  So, are there still some encrypted somewhere, does it get hung up or what?  I've let this run for 48 hours, rebooted, etc., same result.

  • nuukem
    1 Posts

    I'm having a strange problem.  Several searches haven't turned up a solution.  

    The Offline Files sync seems to be working ok, but when I go to "Sync Center" on Laptop A, then double click on "Offline Files" under Folders, there is nothing listed in the Sync Partnership Details section.  On Laptop B, when I go to the Sync Partnership Details section I see my network server and share that is setup for offline files.  

    The problem with not seeing anything listed in the Sync Partnership Details section is that I can't "Schedule" the sync to happen on an action or at a certain time.  Clicking the "Schedule" button doesn't list anything in that window.

    On Laptop A I've tried unchecking "Always Available Offline" and rechecking it, but that hasn't helped.

    Does anyone know how to resolve this?  

    Thank you,

    ~ Phil

  • The improvements are great, however one of my major frustrations with Offline Files under Vista that none of the management tools like CscCmd work anymore.

    For example, under WinXP, if a user's home share move to a new UNC, I could rehome cache without having to sync, unpin, pin, resync all the files in the cache.  So in a scenario where some infrastructure changed, I could put this change in a logon script and fix the problem seamlessly and efficiently for all my users.  

    So offline files under Vista is currently a world of pain for me as file servers are being replaced and in same cases, user accounts renamed during a major infrastrucutre consolidation.

  • Hi there, one question:

    When making available a folder, all it's contents are made available offline, including subfolders.

    How can you uncheck some subfolders from being avaliable offline?

    I mean basically I need to have ALL  folder contents and subfolders, available. There are some little exceptions....

    Any hint?

  • cazulp
    2 Posts

    Correction to my previous comment. If Vista works in a similar fashion to XP, then I think what I am seeing in the CSC are the control files in sub-folder V2.0.6, not the files themselves hence the properties will not show the details I want. If I am correct, is there any way to see the actual files and which folder will they be in, eg Namespace or Temp ?.

  • cazulp
    2 Posts

    I find Offline Files under Vista more problematic than under XP. My issue at the moment is that I have encrypted Offline Files and want to see the certificate that was used to do this. Under XP, I was able to see the files in the CSC and check the details under properties to get this information. Under Vista, I have to go through hoops to see the files and then the details button is greyed out giving the appearance that the files are NOT encrypted. Can anyone help.

  • balintn
    2 Posts

    I love the idea of offline files, but now I'm thinking about throwing it all out, and fall back to file copying.

    I have a Vista machine, used offline files for a long while, but now it just does not sync. When the same happened in XP, you just had to hit "Sync" a few times, and things started to work. Not in Vista. It says it is not connected (so it can't sync). In the meantime, I can ping the file server, from the file server I can remote desktop to the client. I tried switching the firewall off on both machines, did not change anything.

    So, I think I'll wait patiently for a day or two. I had enough trying to solve the problem. If the solution comes to me by a miracle, I'll use it. Otherwise, I'll just throw it out, or just switch back to XP.


  • I have a weird problem using Vista with Offline Files on a share running Win2K3 Server. Our current setup with Active Directory has a U:\ mapped to a share called \\server\users\ Now this user is obviously given access to the folder through AD.

    When I am testing Offline Files in Vista, I change the Location of the Documents folder to point to U:\. This all works fine, and I am available to mark this folder as make available offline successfully and the syncing etc. all works fine. However, my problem occurs that the users directory under \\server\users\ get's changed to \\server\users\Documents. So at the moment I have 2 Vista machines with offline files being setup in the same way, both called Documents in the same share? I am not even sure how this is possible to have 2 folders named the same under the same root folder?

    I am able to supply screenshots and samples of how they are setup etc. for someone from Microsoft to look at. Alternatively I can be contacted at terry.sposato (at) reynolds (dot) com (dot) au.

    I am very puzzled by this as the permissions on such directories look fine as well and I am not even sure where to start looking. Now obviously I could of pointed the Documents to redirect to \\server\users\\Sync or any other subfolder under the root U:\ but should I have to? Why would it change the name?

    Thanks in advance.


  • We just upgraded a few users to Office 2007.  Two are on Vista, and one seems to be experiencing a problem with the offline files.

    On our machines, I disable offline files because it won't let my users save to a network drive if they open Outlook attached files.

    On the one Vista Laptop, this fix worked until we loaded SP1 - then the problem came back, but according to Control Panel, offline files are still disabled.  Thoughts?  My boss is not happy she can't save files directly out of e-mail to the netork.


  • I am having a problem with a share which will not come back online. Here's the environment

    Single server environment

    W2K3 SP2 as AD domain controler

    Group Policy redirect of Documents folder to server share

    Vista Ultimate client

    What I can so far reproduce, is that using my WIFI connection the server redirect folder comes online, the troubled share never comes online. If I boot on the wired network both are available. Since the WIFI connections are not established until during the login process, it the troubled share never appears. With a wired connection the server is "seen" before login, so the troubled share is there. If the connection drops (server reboots, move from wired to wireless without reboot, etc) the troubled share goes offline and never detects the server is there, even though all other shares to the server work.

    When I open explore and look for the "Work Online" option, it isn't there. If I am online with this share, I can select "Work Offline" and then the "Work Online" appears and I can switch it back.

    Strange, but can't find anything to fix this, short of rebooting on a wired network whenever I need to sync. Very frustrating.


  • Hi

    Im trying every blog on the site to do with file transfer, so sorry in advance.

    Problem got new MOB dont want to lose my documents from the hard drive. Have another vista PC in the house and tryed to do same as with XP., lift my documents folder over to other hard drive.  It wont let Me.  Anyone know how i can transfer my docs.


  • johhnyj
    1 Posts

    I am using Windows Vista Business and have noticed that the offline files servcie is slowing down network browsing drastically.  I do not have offline files set up only the service running.  I am evaluating Vista to rollout to our user base but based on what I am seeing I will not.  I have SP1 installed and it did not help at all.  If I diable the offline files service network browsing is just fine.  It may be pertinent to say that I am specifically browsing a DFS share we have set up globally...

    I could just disable the service but this would not solve our overall problem becasue we have many users that will require offline files.

    Any ideas?

  • bikky
    1 Posts

    I have an issue with Offline files that doesn't seem to be addressed here. This is the 3rd time it's happened.

    Offline files working fine, then the space starts to fill up (for approx 6gig of files the csc was using nearly 60 gig of disk space)

    the temp files wouldnt delete, so i disabled offline files, and deleted the contents of the csc folder.

    now when i re-enable offline files, pictures, videos and music is autoredirected through GP, and set to offline, but I can't for the life of me get any other folder offline,  If i click make available and go back to the menu its still unticked, if i goto properties and tick the box, when i goback it stays unticked.  and in control panel offline files, then goto adjust the disk usage, the button does nothing.

    any ideas?



  • rubber2
    2 Posts

    Other hint for "Always available offline" unavailability:

    i found that cscService is STOPPED

    even if I have cscsvc.dll in system32

    even if I have csc folder

    if I try to restart cscService it says it's impossible... error 0x80070003

    if I try to access csc folder it will say I'm not authorized (even if I'm admin); should I try to regain property of the folder?

    P.S. happens on both my two ACERs with Vista business (they have empowering suite by Acer running)



  • rubber2
    2 Posts


    Did anyone know how the story ended for Katie366 and PlanetF1?

    I suspect I have the same problem:

    My xp pro notebooks work ok with offline files (placed on an xp pro PC used as a temporary file server)

    On the same folders, my Vista Business notebooks do not have on Right click menu the "Always available offline". Tried to enable/restart/disable/restart/enable/restart from control panel (Offline Files) but to no avail. I'm starting to suspect that ACER has something to do with it...



  • Hi:

    I work for a MS Gold Certified Partner as an IT Security Consultant.

    I just installed Vista SP1 and have HUGE problems with offline files. Basically, once disconnected form the network, explorer.exe hangs, and it is impossible to browse anything on the hard drive.

    But if I remove my offline folders, then everything works alright.

    Please, let me know how can I report this bug.



  • Not sure if this is the best place to ask this.  I've just tried using Offline Files between a Win2K3 share and a WinVista Business laptop.  Although there are no errors in sync, the only files that seem to be available offline are *.doc and *.ppt files.  The *.docx, *.pptx, *.pdf, etc have dimmed icons (but still the green sync widget), and are not available offline.  Any ideas?

  • Balaram
    1 Posts

    "User profile couldn't be found (one exists) and that a temporary user profile will be used. Further, any changes made to the temp profile will be lost at logout"

    Please, let me know the soltuion for this issue

  • hope someone out there can help, hope microsoft have looked into this issue by now, i have a laptop which currently synchronises my the document folder, however when i am at home and i want to delete or rename a folder (to organise my files) it says i can only do this if i am connected to the network, i think this was discussed by - schmidtrene - a while back, is there a hot fix for this issue?? Cheers.

  • I love the Vista offline folders and have used them succesfully for quite a while on a number of machines. Specifically, after making a number of folders avalable offline, I change the target of the documents, pictures and music directories to those offline folder locations (e.g c:\users\rob\music becomes \\server\public\music)

    Unfortunately our server crashed and we had to rebuild it with a different server name. For some reason, I cannot get the laptops to change their target away from the old server. Is there some way to completely "WIPE OUT" any offline files residual stuff and start fresh?

    Thanks for your help!


  • Is it possible to re-direct the offline folder to drive D:?  We have laptops now with 2 hard drives, one for data.

  • balintn
    2 Posts

    Hi All,

    Many have described why they need subfolder exlusion in offline files, to which I fully agree; so this is just a vote: I need subfolder exclusion.

    Maybe you can make the UI more user friendly: when the user sets a folder "always available offline", just pin the whole subtree, don't ask an ACL-like question as XP did. But when selecting a pinned subfolder, make unpinning possible.



  • slc
    1 Posts

    Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.1.1 causes Vista to deny access to all files that are designated to be available offline.  Denial occurs regardless whether working online or offline, provided that the file has been designated to be available offline.  Adobe has confirmed this bug and advises to install only up through v. 8.1.  Version 8.1.2 is due out in January, according to Adobe tech support.

  • So we have an intersting issue I wonder if you can help with? We have some Windows 2003 server shares which have the setting "Only the files and programs that users specifiy will be available offline" set on them. Users access these via a domain based DFS structure. Vista users seem to "automatically" cache the entire share when they shouldn't and "Make available offline" is ticked and grayed out. Any ideas? Doesnt happen with XP...

  • xserret
    1 Posts

    In my experience, Offline files is still broken under standard working conditions.

    I have tryied both an XP-server and SBS-server and the Vista-Client keeps on having systematic problems.

    FYI, I re-installed the vista client from scratch twice and performed the famous CS-reset uncontable times.

    The same computer (a Dell D620 with 2 Gb ram, 50% empty disk) had no issue with off-line files when it was an XP machine.

    The main issue I finding is in the detection of the share availability. If for whatever reason the server is dns-resolvable, but not SMB reachable, the off-line cache is not kick-in... and Explorer keeps on saying access denied.

    Now, I trick I found is to disable networking, do a sleep-wakeup cycle, and then the off-line copy becomes available. I open an explore windiwn o it and then I can reconnect the computer to the network. Everything is fine while I keep this handle open (via the explorer window). Of course, the new button "work off-line" never shops up in the whole process. Also, if I close the handle and then I vpn in, something remains in the stack (maybe routing) that keeps on disabling access to the off-line copy ... and the actual server (which I can check is fully avialble by using alternate names!).

    Of course, I cannot recommend vista-ofline files because in my experience this is way too complex for an standard user. And please do not blame Network/DNS/VPN configurations... we cannot afford to require reconfiguration on these while they are mostly controlled by 3rd parties... and when this is mostly a client-only issue.



  • Dan Law
    1 Posts

    Hi All,

    Bit of a long read but it should solve your problems...

    I know there has been much discussion on here about vista and offline files. I have followed a lot of the information on here as I had a client over a VPN with a specific software issue that needed to use the client side cache whilst online.

    For more info on offline files visit:

    I contacted Brian Aust directly via email and discussed the problems with XP and a member of his team suggested that Vista would probably solve the problems. However upon upgrading that machine I faced the same problems that some of you did.

    The machine tried to synchronize an entire drive of over 600GB's worth of data. I tried un-checking the make available offline settings and no joy as the sync centre came up with several errors such as "access denied" and "unable to connect" the thing drove me mad, there was no way that I was going to try and resolve thousands of sync errors and half the subfolders (in no particular order) were still trying to synchronise.

    The definitive answer:

    Vista comes with 90 days technical support, so if you are within that period I would suggest calling Microsoft and get them to fix it for you. I did this and they went away and came back with a few hot fixes to resolve all the sync issues. I would include them but they are time dependant fixes that require a password to run and the passwords on them change every few days. Apparently all these fixes are to be included in SP1 which you can already get the beta version from the net, so if you are having access denied issues (KB article: 935663) and unable to connect issues, install service pack 1.

    If like me you just want to reset all your offline files, clear down the cache and start again, which was the final stage to fixing the problem you have to go into the registry and reinitialise the client side cache.

    To reinitialize the Offline Files cache, create the following DWORD registry value with a value of 1 and restart the system.


    Note that you will have to create the Parameters key, and any unsynchronized changes will be lost.  In addition, any files and folders pinned by means other than Folder Redirection or Group Policy will no longer be pinned on that client.  

    The setting of this registry value may be automated using REG.EXE.

    At the search / run input box in your start menu copy and paste the following text.

    REG ADD "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters" /v FormatDatabase /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

    Reboot your computer and the entire cache should be gone. Do not try and delete it manually or do anything else, just clear the whole lot and start again.

    Hope this helps.



  • mcm
    2 Posts

    For those suffering from the same problem as me about removing a sync relationship, I found the answer here:

  • Gonzalo
    1 Posts

    Hi Brian Aust,

    if you are still looking at this blog, could you tell me of a site/document at Microsoft where I could get more information about correctly configuring offline folders? Your response to Stevem on March 26 about oplocks and slow link behavior may be what I need to solve the problems I am seeing.



  • I am having some predictable issues regarding Active Sync in Vista Business. I have a lot of laptop users with vpn clients installed on all. Up until now I have had the laptops setup with XP Pro, a vpn client, and Folder Redirection enabled for their My Documents folder. Some of my users get very confused when offsite with the icons that show up in the task tray when they turn on/off thier vpn client (little terminal icon that tells them they are offline, terminal with exclamation point telling them they are online, but need to click ok to get the connection to stick, etc.). Not all of my users are computer savvy and despite numerous trainings and 1-on-1 session, I still get lots of complaints about this. I had heard that Vista really cleaned this up, so I have been holding out for Vista to solve this.

    I have started rolling out Vista Business x32 with a vpn client. I have configured them with the following thinking:

    -> Sync Partnership between local My Documents and corresponding directory on SBS server

    -> instruct laptop users to ALWAYS leave these files Offline (thinking here is that the files will always be quickly available to users even if they just close the lids on thier laptops and run as is thier habit)

    -> set up a scheduled sync for whenever the machine is idle for over 30 mins (thinking here was that at sometime during the day, the user will take a break/lunch and the machine will get sync'ed at least once a day - good enough for us)

    -> with this configuration, the user should never have to explicitely do anything

    This seemed to end complaints and made me a hero -- until...

    -> I started getting complaints that the sync never happens; i.e., even if a machine was hooked to the network untouched for days, the "sync when idle" schedule never seemed to fire. I have a desktop at home inside our firewall that I have configured as above with a sync if idle for over an hour schedule and just noticed that it has not synced in the last couple of days. I have worked on the desktop, changed files, but they never showed up on the server. I have also played with various options (computer running on external power, computer is awake, etc.) with similar results. QUESTION? Does anyone know how to set things up so that it will sync on idle - perhaps a policy setting?

    -> on the laptop side, occassionally a user will just shut the lid and run with a file open, putting the machine in hibernate mode (brand new HP nx9420 laptops). When they get home/coffee shop/etc. and open up the machine, they find thier My Docs (Documents) pointing to a directory down in the System32 directory. It is my guess that this is the hidden store for offline files. A couple of attempts to open Documents from a file explorer reconnects things properly, but with my unsophisticated users, it causes a lot of insecure feelings and eye rolling. QUESTION? Could this be a problem with my software, or is it just a user modification problem I am dealing with?

    -> when a user leaves the office after properly closing things down, go home and work outside the firewall, and come back to the office an unintended condition occurs. When they boot up or log on in the office (inside the firewall), they find themself working Online with thier Documents folder without ever explicitly going Online. It appears that Vista senses that they are connected to the internal network and sets the folder(s) Online. I do not want this. Another rub is that this does not seem to be consistent. I want thier sync'ed folders always offline. QUESTION? Does anyone know how to take the unpredictability out of this scenario and leave the sync'ed folders always Offline?



  • Hi,

    Wished to be a bit more descriptive and couldn't figure out how to edit the prior post.. sorry for the duplicate.


    Not sure if this message is proper to be addressed to you if not if you can forward to the appropriate contact.

    Interested in knowing if Vista Offline Files has the ability to connect to the server for synching without using a 3rd party VPN client.  I.e., similar to how Outlook synchs to Exchange using RPC over HTTP?

    This particular function is of interest to us because we lock down the public traffic side of the tunnel when employees connect to the servers over the internet but it creates functional problems since the only functionality then is what is served from the server which generally doesn’t have enough bandwidth to support all the users needs remotely that the “local” internet connection could easily serve if both sides of the vpn are opened but we find this too dangerous.

    Not sure if this functionality exists in Vista.



  • Hello,

    Does the current version of Vista Offline Files support synching over HTTP/RPC?

    I.e., similar to how outlook synchs with exchange.

    I.e., the ability to eliminate having to use a corporate VPN client to still synch the client to the server when not locally connected to the server.



  • I cannot believe what a step back the Offline Files functionality in Vista Ultimate is. I keep geeting .tmp conflicts with Word and Excel files, Vist seems to always use the locally cached copies rather than the network file when online. There is not even an option to set for default conflict resolution!

    The local cache has also created mirror folders of parent folders after I had created a subdirectory offline!

    I used the offline functionality on both Windows 2000 and XP Pro and, whilst they were not perfect, it worked!

    I upgraded to Vista Ultimate mainly for this functionality, to say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. The whole of teh Vista experience has been a disappointment!

  • I like to redirect my C drive when I remote in to other machines, and this is the primary way I move files to other machines.  My question is I don't see documents under the file system since redirecting the directory to a server.  How can I still have atleast the link to the cache under the users\username directory?

  • I have some issues with Offline files and would love some help or advice on how to fix this issue.

    I am running Vista Business on a Sony Laptop and am connecting to a Windows 2003 Standard R2 server, although we are not using a domain, simply a shared folder on the server for file sharing.

    I have mapped a drive on the laptop to the share on the server, and this works fine when i am working on our vlan.

    I then enabled offline files on the laptop, however quickly found that i could not stop all sub folders being sync'd so i stopped the process. i the started to add inidividual folders to my offline files, but i kep getting errors where it had previous tried to sync these files.

    I diabled, re-enabled, deleted temp files etc, but everytime i tried to sync, i was getting the same errors. I then found an article on the net which explained how to physically delete the offline files, by taling ownership of hte CSC directory and manually deleting all files in teh v2.0.6/temp directory - however when i now enable offline files, the disk usage is showing 99gb out of 99gb and no files will sync - when i click on 'always available offline' it simply does not respond.

    Any help or advice on how i might reslove this would be greatly appreciated, i cannot work without offline files, and i am deparately trying to avoid having to rebuild the laptop to factory settings.

  • bbeare
    1 Posts

    I've had same problem starting offline files service "unable to find the path specified". Tried reloadiing Vista from Acer backup partition but still get same error. This is a new laptop. Please can anybody shed any light on this problem?  

  • Offline files have been working beautifully ever since I switched to Vista but the other day the offline files service failed to start with the following message: Windows could not start the offline files service on the local computer. Error 0x80070003 The system cannot find the path specified. This all started after the latest updates form MS were installed. I've restored the computer to its state just before the updates were installed but no change; the offline files functionality is broken. A side effect is that I cannot create or modify any files located on shares that used to be available offline. Any ideas how to fix this?

  • SGK
    1 Posts

    I'm having some difficulty with Offline Files which did not exist with Windows XP. I have a laptop which is running Vista Business and connects to our corporate network (when out of the office) via a VPN. We use the standard MS Windows VPN client but we do not join the domain. When connected via the VPN I am able to open Outlook and connect to the MS Exchange server by inserting my domain-name\user-name and password in the dialog box. However my mapped drives (offline folders) do not reconnect and I cannot see any option to force them to sync like you can with Outlook by clicking Send/Receive. Can anyone suggest anything for me to try or that I have missed?

  • Rayz
    1 Posts

    I've selected a network share to sync with my laptop. Is it possible to delete this relationship? I can't find a way to do this.

  • hi, i am currently having some problems with Vista business, will appreciate if you can reply me on my email:

    The problem i am facing is that in my services.msc, i cannot seem to start up my offline folders service.

    when i do that, i recieve an error stating:

    Error 0x80070003 The system cannot find the path specified. Windows could not start the Offline Files service on Local Computer.

    I have done:

    disabled all firewall, antiviruses

    updated windows vista to latest ed.

    have office 2003 sbe installed and updated.

    disable user switching by removing the entry in my log-off

    Still, my problems exists.

    I have also went into the sync centre and couldnt find anything.

    I also went into offline files and enabled the offline files. Its simply not activated..

    can anyone help? THanks!

  • BillD
    15 Posts

    How can I disable Sync Center? I also disabled the offline files because I don't use it, but sometimes I see mobysync.exe running.

  • Hi Guys, having same problem as a couple of other people have already posted but no reply yet.

    Enabled Folder redirection in group policy,

    realised this automatically made those folders available offline,

    changed the setting in the group policy to disable automatic offine files in folder redirection but the folders still sync and won't let me make them unavailable for sync. There is one folder in particular "Downloads" that I do not want to sync as it is huge and also shared by several users,

    Any ideas?

  • Perhaps the hotfix from the MS KB may help. I'm not running Vista at this point, so I can't test.

    You experience slow performance on a Windows Vista-based computer after you establish a VPN connection

    Article ID : 934202

    Last Review : May 22, 2007

    Revision : 2.0

  • I seem to have a problem very similar to timlang, QbaW and Bapi. A bunch of tmp files are created every day when I take my laptop home and come back the next morning and connect to the network at work.

    It looks like the tmp files are created when the Documents folder attempts to sync with the Windows 2003 server. Our intermediate solution has been to write a script that periodically deletes tmp files from the server but this has not worked well. Any help regarding this issue would be greatly appreciated.

  • mcm
    2 Posts

    I created a sync with a folder that has descendant files which I don't have read or write access. Now I'm trying to stop the sync relationship but it won't remove the sync with those files only with the files and folders I do have read/write permission. Does anyone know what can be done about it?

  • timlang
    1 Posts

    I have the exact same problem as QbaW and Bapi previously posted about.  I have searched for any resolution but have not been able to find anything online.

    I have a windows XP file server setup for offline files, and it works perfectly with all my XP Pro clients.  On my Vista Business machine, which is also has offline files enabled.  When ever I use Word or Excel (2007), to edit or create a file on the share, it creates the .tmp file, but then when you save/close Word, it doesn't change the .tmp file to the proper file name and has a sync conflict.  You can manually resolve the sycn conflict to force save the file with the proper file name, but then you have to manually delete the .tmp file.  I have full permissions on the share, so it is not a permissions issue.  This only happens on my Vista machine (running Office 2007).  All my XP machines with Office 2003 work perfectly.

  • I've been using offline files in XP as I connect via VPN to my company's server. It was never wonderful but did the job I needed. I've upgraded to Vista ultimate and have set up my offline folders. XP used to have a status bar and details of which files were being synched but I can't seem to find this info in Vista which is a pain - can anybody help?

    Sorry for this non techy enquiry but have searched the web and had no luck.

  • It's nice to see someone from MS lay their hands on the Vista Briefcase, albeit briefly: it could definitely to with the laying-on of hands.

    File synchronisation is essential, and it's good to see effort being put into making Offline files work smoothly, but I don't have that luxury: Vista HP doesn't support  it.

    Instead I rely on Briefcase (and I am only syncing files to/from USB, BTW), but it is terrible: file names are truncated in the update dialog box, it thinks there are status (modified/not modified) conflicts when its says itself that there aren't (screenshot available), it fails to update without telling the user it has failed, and the "Details" context menu does not conform to extant UI design principles (cancel cancels the sync, not the proposed to change/dismissing the dialog) and doesn't work properly (choosing which version to "keep" causes not a sync in the right direction but the sync to be "skipped").

    Posts to community forums have drawn a blank, perhaps someone else can comment.

    I would have much preferred the proper sync capabilities of Vista to be in HP (HP customers more likely to have home networks?), but in its absence, whilst I can accept that Briefcase may never be as efficient or as capable, it ought at least to be accurate, user friendly & implemented correctly.

    It used to be better in XP.

    But, after that litany of issues, I'll leave on an optimistic "Thank you!" for saying something about them.

  • Bapi
    1 Posts

    I have same issue as QbaW above. Vista Business synchronizing with network drive keeps reporting conflicts with .tmp files (deleted from computer and modified on server). In my case they are MS Word and Outlook .tmp files. I would appreciate any suggestion how to solve this problem. Thanks.

  • I'm trying to switch off "offline files" via group policy in a SBS2003_R2_SP2 domain. While this works ok on XP clients, I can't get it to work on the VISTA clients. The button to turn on/off offline files is greyed out (which is good), but offline files is switched on. So how do I switch it off? I've set the policy "allow the use of the offline files feature" to "disable" and "automatically make redirected files and folders available offline" as well. I found a some other people on the net having the same problem, but no solution so far.


  • Someone's kidding.

    It hardly works. What a step back.

    In XP the Offline files was already bad but in Vista (I have Business) ...what a shame.

    You should not even have talked about it.

    On our Server I can't get about 95% of all files offline. Once I synchronize just one network folder and later login with VPN, than I can only see that single folder and all others won't show anymore.

    I tried all possible ways from all possible forum to no avail.

    Offline Files is crap and does definitly not work.

    The one suggesting to rename files seems to be even more funny .... huh .... we have thousands of files on the Server. Do you have time and can do it for me ?

    Or actually, I can also take some papers and a pen and write it all down.

    Oh Microsoft, what a step back. How can you release such a crap.

    Did you also realize how bad VPN works ? Can connect but don't see any shared folders ? Ha .... yes, and I have the BUSINESS EDITION.

    You are really kidding. Business ...ha .... for what business shall I use it ? VPN not work, Offline Files not work .....

    Great job. If I would have known that before I would have rather bought a Copy in Bangkok !!!

  • LarryK
    1 Posts

    I have an XP Pro notebook that's been sync'ing fine and I now have a Vista replacement notebook. I am sync'ing my redirected docs and desktop from our Win2003 domain server. I setup the Offline Files as instructed. It says that the files are always available and they appear to sync but when I disconnect from the network I lose my desktop icons and cannot open any files. It is pretty clumbsy to navigate to them, as well. Is that how they will be accessed? Why aren't they available?

    I've spent many hours on this. Hope you can set me straight. Thanks.

  • HELP!

    I am running Vista Ultimate.  I have a network share that I'd like to make available offline.  In the course of setting up the machine, I have had this drive mapped three times ... once using the IP address, once using the "name" of the server and once again using the fully qualified "name" with a domain suffix.  

    Now I only have one mapped drive - the "name" only and I have an entry in my hosts file to direct that name to the right IP.  I have unmapped/disconnected the other attempt.

    In my offline files, under computers, I see all three and I keep getting multiple copies of the files.  The directory contains 10GB and every time I get home I delete the 2nd and third copies, but every time I reconnect to the network I download 20GB of data into those other two directories ...

    How can I make the two extraneous entries under "computers" go away?  I correctly only see one under "mapped drives", but I still see all three under "computers".

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  • I've posted my questions above on the newsgroup.  I hope I can get some more information there.

    Update to my comment above:

    After a few hours of troubleshooting today.  I was able to work around my "Access Denied" errors.  I had to rename the files before syncing, then after a sucessfull sync I changed the name back.  After performing that process for each file with an error I was able to delete all the {GUID}.tmp files and they did not come back after several full syncs.

  • Folks, for future questions, will you use the public Vista newsgroup called This will make it a lot easier for us to respond to your questions.

  • I’ve been having some problems with Offline files on a Vista Ultimate laptop that is connected to our Windows 2003 R2 server.  We have about 20GB of data in the share that is being synchronized.  I have the following questions:

    1) We keep having {GUID like #}.tmp files appearing on the share after a sync.  What exactly are these files and why are they created?

    2) About fifteen files are giving an error in the sync center and all it says is “Access Denied”.  I’ve verified that our user has full control to this location.  I think this is probably tied into my first question somehow.  Why does this happen?  I’ve ran across a couple of other boards about Oplocks being disabled that might possibly cause this, but I have not modified this setting on the server and it looks like they are still on.  I’ve rebuilt the entire cache once and it worked for a day or two and then started giving these “Access Denied” errors again.

    3) When you disable Offline files in the Control Panel why is the CSC folder not automatically deleted?  If it is disabled I would think it should wipe out that data in the cache, if nothing else to free up space and enhance security.  Not to mention it will quickly become obsolete.  It also makes it a lot harder to clear the cache.

    4) Why does the sync center not count an automatic sync on the status under the last sync was performed on x/x/xxxx?  Is it still a good idea to schedule a sync even though it automatically syncs when you are back online?  It also appears that errors that occur in automatic syncs are not reported on the sync center system tray icon.

    Thanks for your help with these questions.  I’ve been kind of puzzled about these issues we have been seeing.  I really like the improvements over XP though and see great promise in them.

  • DaddyO
    3 Posts


    Yes I can confirm both technicians see the file as online.  We have just retested.  If I then remove the offline folder from one machine this machine will show the file in use.

    It really is bazarre..


  • Nejc,

    This feature is defintely supported on DFS. While we have an issue of delays in access when you switch from a network on which the share lives, to another network (wireless or cable), the files should be in sync.

    The work online button only appears for a share for which you have explicitly clicked "work offline." Other shares are expected to go onlin automatically. It would help us troubleshoot better if you could outline the scenario step by step.

  • Daddy0,

    If the offline status shows an online and more than one user is accessing the file on the server, then it means that the file is being read from the server. Are you certain that both technicians are seeing the file as online?

  • MaryBranscombe,

    Try clearing the cache when Offline Files is enabled. If Offline Files is disabled, trying to clear the cache has no effect.

  • I'm completely stuck with offline files; Vista Ultimate, SBS 2003 file shares. I marked a folder to be available offline, realised it would be too big and stopped the sync. Now I can't log into the server for files at all unless I disable offline files; I get errors telling me I can't be logged in under multiple names. With no access to the server, the offline files never sync. Disable offline files and I can get right back in again. I used the REG add command referred to on several MS blogs to clear the cache when offline files is disabled, re-enabled it and the same set of files is cached and I can't get into the file shares again. Suggestions please?

  • DaddyO
    3 Posts

    Hi arron,

    The NAS unit is running Windows 2000 advanced server (Fully patched).  On the share cache settings (Right clicking the share, going to the share tab and clicking the caching button) we have a tick in the "Allow caching of files in this shared folder" and in the drop down list is already currently set to "Manual Caching for Documents".

    Thanks for the tip, but it does not seem to be this issue.  

  • DaddyO:

    Check your cache settings on the server share. I've never liked the description for these settings, but it sounds like you're using "Automatic caching of programs and documents" which does not ensure file sharing. Use the "Manual caching of documents" or "Automatic caching of documents" settings. Vista has comparable settings if your host environment is running it, although the descriptions there provide even less information about the file sharing results you're likely to experience, so I don't know if the behavior has changed.

  • DaddyO
    3 Posts


    Scenario - Serveral Vista Ultimate users (IT Technicains) spread over Europe who have a central repository for user account information, budgets, etc.  All excel files, all used frequently.

    Technicains needs to have this information to hand 24/7 as are on call at night.

    With XP we simply set the folders to be available off line and let windows manage the synchronisation.  However with vista if we make the files available off line on each laptop and the technicain is connected to the network resource the machine is still using the cached copy of the files.  Thus if technicain A opens the file from the network and is modifying the file, technician B can access the file also with change ability and we get lots and lots of sync conflicts.  (User B does not get the standard "this file is in use by technicain A and so will be opened in a read only state")

    Is this by design or can we force it to only use cached files when the server is not avaiable?  (Vista knows the server is available as under offline status it is showing as Online.  Also we have the "Work Offline" option available).

    Anyone else having this issue??


  • nejcs
    1 Posts


    I have the following problem using Vista Business: We've set up file shares on our SBS 2003 R2 as a DFS share and map network drive (let's say it's V:) as a UNC path \\domainname\DfsRootName. I set up v:\projects as offline files folder on vista.

    The problem is that files are not sychronized when Vista resumes from sleep or when it switches networks (like from cable to wireless) and there are no "go online buttons" in explorer.

    Is this feature supported on DFS shares at all? I like DFS since I can move "folders" inside DFS share accross disks or even computers (or continents)...



  • Hell
    1 Posts

    Hi all,

    I have the same problem as QbaW posted at Feb, 21.

    I have a desktop running XP Pro SP2 and a notebook running vista ultimate 32 (german).

    On my notebook I declared one Network Path as available offline.

    Now, when my notebook is offline and I modify an excel or word or powerpiont file, then after reconnecting to my network and doing a sync there is an sync error (access denied).

    Instead, when I edit a text file (with ultraedit) there is no problem on syncing.

    Can anybody help me please.

  • schmidtrene...

    As you probably know, Briefcase is a very old (Win95) feature.  Vista Offline Files was developed independently of Briefcase.  Briefcase is synchronizing a file system path with its "database" while Offline Files is synchronizing folders in the remote file system with a local cache.  The code that accesses that local cache is very specialized.  While this is a reasonable thought, using all or part of the Briefcase sync engine for Offline Files was never a consideration.  

    I just tried an offline rename of a directory using Vista Briefcase and the subsequent sync operation thinks that the renamed directory has been deleted.  The conflict resolution dialog displays one entry for every file that exists under that renamed directory.  Do you see a different result?  

    For the Offline Files scenarios we can easily be working with thousands of files under a renamed folder.  In addition, the time a client spends offline can extend into days or weeks during which multiple moves or renames of folders can occur.  Our goal is to handle these situations as automatically as we can. As far as I know Briefcase was not designed to gracefully handle such complex scenarios.

  • stevem
    2 Posts

    Brian,  thanks, i think that the "Configure slow-link mode" change has fixed it... will monitor it for a few days and let you know if any further problems, and yes, i meant "endabled" re: oplocks, sorry for any confusion... thanks again.

  • on: Changes to the namespace are not allowed while working offline.

    I'm used to using the windows briefcase feature to handle even large amounts of offline files and folders, and although I know all the disadvantages of this feature it is still able to easily synchronize even folders that have been deleted offline. If this somewhat difficult process of synchronisation of the briefcase would be performed kind of automatically as with the offline file feature, it would be perfect. What is the major difference between the two and why can the process of synchonizing deleted offline folders not be taken from the windows briefcase to the offline files feature?

  • stevem...

    You may want to enable the "slow link" behavior in Offline Files.  This is intended for mobile computers that frequently access network resources over low bandwidth or high latency connections.  The idea is that when you’re accessing a cached network resource over a slow connection you work offline to improve performance.  This behavior is enabled through Group Policy.  You can do this using GPEDIT.MSC.  Open the editor.  Expand the following item tree.  "Computer Config -> Admin Templates -> Network -> Offline Files" and find the policy titled "Configure slow-link mode".  Enable the policy.  Using the "Show" button, add an entry with a single asterisk as the name and a value of "latency=25".  The latency value identifies the latency threshold where we consider the connection "slow"; expressed in milliseconds.  Depending on your connection performance you may need to experiment with this value but 25 is a reasonable place to start.  With this in place, the Offline Files service should transition your offline "scopes" to the "offline (slow connection)" state.  This state should appear in Explorer's preview pane as the "Offline Status" property.  You can temporarily transition online by pressing the "Work online" button in Explorer.  The slow scope will again transition offline in 5 minutes, assuming the connection is still considered slow at that time.  This time period is adjustable in the "Network" page of the Offline Files control panel applet.  Note that when you first establish a VPN connection to your work Offline Files will immediately transition online.  Then, in a few minutes it will determine that the connection is slow and transition the scope to offline at that time.  We have prepared a change for the first service pack that will speed up this transition so that it happens immediately following the VPN connection.  

    As for the opportunistic locking, that must be enabled on the server for Offline Files to work correctly on the Vista client.  OpLocks are necessary to ensure that the Offline Files cache knows whether or not it is safe to cache READ and WRITE operations on the client.

  • schmidtrene...

    What you see is by-design.  Changes to the namespace are not allowed while working offline.  The difficulty is performing a correct synchronization afterward.  The range of complex scenarios in this space is very large.  While supporting a simple rename or delete may be minimally complex, scenarios with multiple "rename" and "deletion" operations both on the client and server while the client is offline are certainly possible.  Correctly synchronizing those is very difficult.  

    This is a frequent request and it is one that is on our list of scenarios to solve in a future release or update.  Currently we do not have a solution available but this is definitely something we are thinking about.

    Thanks for the question!  

  • Hi!

    Why again is it not possible to delete a pinned folder or even a whole branch while being offline? I'm travelling with complex directory structures that change a lot, e.g. websites. It is really not very helpful to keep the entire folder structure alive until I'm back online. Or am I doing wrong here? But when I attempt to delete a folder while I'm offline my system keeps saying like: "this process can only be performed while having a connection to the network". Thanks for help!

  • stevem
    2 Posts

    Hi All,  I am having real perfornamce issues with Vista Ultimate - works fine on my LAN at home but the disk grinds away when connected to the LAN at work and stops all other fuctions (even task manager takes 6mins or so to start)... the only difference i can see is that i have a large (40Gb+) amount of data in Offline Files (domain server is Win2000 Server - and yes, i have disabled opportunistic locking on the server... i am assuming that it is the back ground sync process that is causing the problems... is there a way to lower its priority or something? thanks in advance for any assistance

  • On not being able to exclude subfolders from being taken offline (a removal of functionality from XP):

    DavidJ explained the problem with the new offline files paradigm. It is impractical to split and replicate a master, shared directory structure just to exclude subfolders from being taken offline on one particular occasion for one particular laptop.

    What about when the subset you want offline changes? I have multiple clients and projects with >200GB of data, so not all data will fit on a single laptop HD in one go. When I travel to visit one client, I exclude a few (but not all) large data subfolders (total 10-20GB) for another client from being taken offline, which frees up space for other subfolders to be taken offline. I change what gets taken offline every week before I travel to different places - it would be impractical to reorganize the master folder (and their backups) each week.

    On multiple laptops, how do you maintain separate directory structures where each laptop wants a different, overlapping subset of leaf-level subfolders of the master folder offline? You would need to duplicate shared folders on the server to support multiple laptops - an impossible solution for keeping files in sync, at which point you have lost the purpose for using offline files. This is easy and uncomplicated in XP but is now impossible in Vista with this removal of functionality.

    The model should be as similar to that for portable media devices, which can only hold a subset of your total media, and for which the subset can be changed all the time. This model does not confuse even novice users - it is extremely common. At least let advanced users turn this default behavior off as with XP. Much as I would like to make the shift for the new asynchronous sync behavior, this really is a deal-breaker for Vista.

    On multiple CSC caches across multiple laptop HDs (feature request):

    Obviously there are technical challenges with offline files and group policy but these could be solved in due course. On the management aspects however, it seems that you already have faced (and solved) similar issues with the ReadyBoost feature in Vista, where an external USB flash drive can be used for an encrypted swap file, but only when it is plugged in.

    The secondary hard disks could be formatted as NTFS (mine already are), and thus could support encrypted secondary CSC cache folders. To the laptop, they already appear as secondary internal local SATA HDs (not USB external HDs). It's just that they are not always plugged in, and need a suspend/resume cycle to swap out for other HDs or a DVD player.

    I currently use third-party sync software (ICE Mirror) to manage the offline folders between my servers and the secondary HDs, but it would be much better to be able to take advantage of the Windows offline files functionality to manage this instead.

  • BillJr... another question.

    Are you able to create encrypted files on a local hard drive?  For example, create a file in a directory on the local hard drive and try to encrypt it.  Is this successful?

  • BillJr...

    What brand of laptop did you purchase?

  • BillJr...

    What brand of laptop did you purchase?

  • BillJr
    1 Posts

    What about encryption?  I have my offline files encrypted via Group Policy, but when I got my new laptop with Vista Ultimate and made my personal drive share available offline, I was denied access to all my files, even when I was docked and on my office network.  I got a new certificate, but that did not seem to remedy the situation.  The only remedy was to reverse the "make available offline" action.  What can I do to mitigate this problem?

  • DavidJ
    1 Posts

    I agree with dtrounce on the need to exclude subfolders from the offline cache.  

    It's very impractical to modify my data structure to create an offline branch.  I want certain folders available offline in each of my different data folders (music, pictures, documents, etc.)  I also want to modify my offline selection at any time.  The setting is there in gpedit.msc. (User Configuration>Administrative Templates>System>Folder Redirection>'Do not automatically make redirected folders availaible offline')

    Very confusing why it doesn't do what it says it does.  And please don't just issue an update that removes that from the policy ;)

  • I've really been looking forward to the enhancements to Offline Files in Vista. But, I seem to have run into a couple problems preventing me from using the feature and I'd really appreciate some help.

    I'm working with shares of an XP SP2 machine with caching set to "Automatic caching of documents". This allowed my Vista Business workstation to automatically cache files from the share when accessed. After doing this, I have encountered three issues.

    Issue #1: When I go to the Offline Files applet in the Control Panel, I can see the files are correctly filling up against the Temporary offline files. When I click "Delete Temporary Files..." I receive the expected dialogs telling me it's clearing the space and completes successfully. However, the bar doesn't move, the same amount of space is still allocated when the deletion completes, and the files still seem to be available offline. Basically, the button has no practical effect and no space is reclaimed.

    Issue #2: While offline, I moved some folders on the XP machine. When I reconnected with Vista and tried to sync, I received numerous errors all from the folder location that was moved saying "Unable to sync at this time. Please try again." I made no changes to the files while offline. Now I understand some changes were made to this feature to support shares going offline inside of a DFS root, but these are just sub-folders inside of a regular share -- why doesn't it realize the subfolder has been removed and update the namespace accordingly? More importantly, how can I keep this from happening and how can I correct it now that it has (as in, make the sync errors to the non-existent directory stop)?

    Issue #3: From the General tab of the same applet, I clicked "View your offline files" and navigated to the share giving me trouble. Inside, I was able to see all of my folders Online except for the cached copy of the one I had moved -- it was marked Offline (need to sync). Well, I wanted to delete it from the cache since it had been moved on the server. So, I right-clicked and selected "Delete Offline Copy". I was greeted with, "Completed deleting offline copes." Yet, the cached folder was still listed -- no change.

    So to sum up, why doesn't it recognize a moved folder in this situation, and why can't I delete anything from the offline files cache?

    I have reproduced this on two different Vista installations. I can completely clear the cache and start over, but that doesn't prevent it from happening again.

  • chadsichello,

    My apologies for not monitoring the blog more closely and responding earlier.

    Offline Files implements a user profile change notification handler and is designed to update the account information in the Offline Files cache in response to the account changes.  It appears that this may have not happened in your instance.  

    Please contact me directly and we'll work with you on this.  I'll post the results back to this blog once we determine what happened.

  • dtrounce,

    On the issue of excluding subdirectories... the only solution is for you to restructure your data so that the archive directories are placed in a different directory tree.  

    On the multiple cache directory suggestion...

    That is certainly an interesting idea and it would pose some significant technical challenges.  Disregarding the technical aspects, I'm concerned about the management aspects.  Our primary audience for the feature is enterprise customers and folder redirection.  In that environment customers typically manage the feature using Group Policy.  Allowing the cache to be split across multiple devices would significantly complicate the management of the feature.  As for placing the cache on portable disks, that is not allowed.  Currently the cache must be located on a single local fixed volume formatted NTFS.  I do not anticipate any changes to this model.

    On the PowerPoint issue...

    There are no known issues with this in Vista.  I'll have our test team try this scenario to verify.

  • Nick White
    1204 Posts

    Hey chadsichello:  let me check with Brian to see if we can get you answer -- hang in there.

  • Unfortunately, it dosen't look like this is a high priority for Microsoft, so, I've no choice but to go back to XP.  Too bad.

  • I'm having a heck of a time with the new offline files in Vista.  When I first upgraded my PC, the offline files feature worked great, seamlessly even.  However, we recently changed our internal company network to a Small Business Server 2003 network from our stand-alone domain controller setup.  The features of SBS2003 are awesome and we're really pleased with the upgrade, BUT.... we've got a real issue with offline files now.  When I joined the new domain, I lost the ability to use offline files with my new user account.  We migrated my settings over from my old account, but it still didn't work.  So we disabled offline files, rebooted, then re-enabled, rebooted, and still no dice.  We have our public docs shared at \\<<sbsserver>>\Public Shared Folders.  Now in my last user profile, I could use this just fine, but now when I right click and select 'Always Available Offline'... nothing happens.  I've tried to map the drive and then make available offline, nothing, disabled, reenabled, nothing... This is incredibly infuriating, I am often overseas on business and our VPN is not fast enough to support me overseas.  I've got 23Gbs of files that I need on my PC and I need to sync up as I use a lot of files with other people in the office.  Please HELP!  Desparately yours, Chad Sichello

  • I'm very excited about the new functionality in Vista offline files - I've used OF extensively on XP Pro for the past few years.

    I have one concern and two questions

    1. One of Brian Aust's posts on 2/13 (above) suggests the removal of an important piece of functionality that is present in XP OF - specifically, the ability to exclude a subfolder from being taken offline.

    My 'My Documents' folder on my server is several times bigger than the hard drive on my laptop. I explicitly move very large old files into 'archive' subfolders in my directory structure, and then exclude these 'archive' subfolders from being taken offline to deal with the disk space issue. How will I deal with this in Vista?

    I understand the desire not to confuse novice users, but there should be an option to allow power users to control what is and is not taken offline.

    2. On the 'limited mobile disk space' topic, it would be extremely useful to be able to have multiple CSC cache folders on different physical drives (note - note move the CSC folder, but have multiple CSC folders over multiple drives). I swap out a secondary HD into the Ultrabay of my Thinkpad, and it would be fantastic to have a secondary CSC cache on that HD.

    The idea would be when that secondary HD was inserted, further folders would become available offline, and when it wasn't, they would be treated as not offline. Alternatively, there should be some way to use more than 1 HD of capacity for offline files, particularly for portable external disks which could be used as offline caches.

    3. There is a bug in XP that causes XP to hang occasionally when saving files to OF from Powerpoint, Winzip, other write out to a file in a similar way etc. (see for full details).

    Has this been diagnosed and fixed in Vista?

  • Apolooza, regarding your question about upgrading your desktop computer...

    Offline Files is a client feature.  Therefore, if, from that desktop computer, you need offline availability of network files, that computer must be running a version of Vista that supports Offline Files.  The Business edition supports Offline Files.  If you are concerned about using that machine as a "server" that hosts the files made available offline on your laptop, the only requirement is that the "server" support SMB sharing.  The Home versions of Vista support that.  Note that Home Basic places a limitation on the number of simultaneous SMB connections.

    I hope this answers your questions.

  • Hemantpatel... moving the Offline Files cache in Vista is a bit more involved than in prior versions of Windows. The procedure for doing this is posted here on TechNet.

  • maxium
    1 Posts

    I am using Windows Vista on a SBS 2003 domain. I have set the folder redirection via group policy and also set "User Configuration>Administrative Templates>System>Folder Redirection>'Do not automatically make redirected folders availaible offline'" to enabled. However windows vista still insists on making these folders avaliable offline and will not allow me to change it. How can i resolve this issue? I only want to make certain sub folders avaliable.


  • Q.  In Windows XP...  while using OFF, I was able to use a utility to move the offline files to another HDD/Drive/Directory, to help maintain space on the main OS drive.

    Is there an official way to do this in Vista?  I highly doubt the old tool will work, haven't quite dared to give it a try.



  • QbaW
    2 Posts

    When I “synchronize all” after modifying any Excel or Word file, I always get 2 conflicts (for every modified file). One about .tmp file (deleted from computer and modified on server) and second about Office file (modified on computer and deleted or changed name on server). What can be wrong?

    I have SBS 2003 and Folder Redirection configured in GPO. The problem occurs on Vista Enterprise with Office 2007.

  • QbaW
    2 Posts

    When I “synchronize all” after modifying any Excel or Word file, I always get 2 conflicts (for every modified file). One about .tmp file (deleted from computer and modified on server) and second about Office file (modified on computer and deleted or changed name on server). What can be wrong?

    I have SBS 2003 and Folder Redirection configured in GPO. The problem occurs on Vista Enterprise with Office 2007.

  • Are there any compatibility issues between Vista and XP offline files?  My laptop has XP pro and I will not be able to upgrade, but I need to replace my desktop (server).  If they are compatible, do I need the Business edition?

  • Odegaard, my apologies for not replying earlier on this question.  You asked...

    Q: What happens of you change a file on your laptop while is it offline, then change the same file from your online desktop computer, and afterwards reconnect the laptop? How are these out-of-sync issues handled?

    A: The first client computer to synchronize with the server will sync the local change to the server without issue.  The second client computer to synchronize will find that both the locally-cached copy and the server copy have changed.  This generates a "sync conflict".  Sync conflicts are displayed in the Sync Conflicts folder of Sync Center.  From there you can resolve the conflict.

    Q: ...Btw. I like You changed the name from "Offline Folders" to "Offline Files" when it is in fact offline folders (according to your description).

    A: That's a good question.  The feature is titled "Offline Files" within the product.  It is that way in Windows Vista and it was that way when it was introduced in Windows 2000.  Some marketing information has used the term "Offline Folders" or "Offline Files and Folders" so you'll see some people using those terms.  In our discussions you may also see the term "Client Side Caching" or the acronym "CSC".  This was the original feature name before it was given a formal name for Windows 2000.  Internally we still refer to it as "CSC".  All of these terms refer to the same feature but "Offline Files" is how you'll find it labeled in the Windows user interface.

    I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

  • Devy, on your question about the XP version of Offline Files...

    First, please try Vista Offline Files when you get a chance.  I think you'll be pleased with the improvements.

    Concerning the problem you described...

    In your description it was not clear to me if the second computer had also configured the folder to be available offline.  Offline Files is a client feature.  In order for files to be available on a client, they must be made available for offline use on that client.  Making files avialable for offline use on one client computer does not automatically make them avaiable for use on another client computer using that same content on a server.  You may already understand this but I wanted it to be clear.

    The next possibility is that in Windows XP you need to perform what we call a "full" sync in order to synchronize new files created inside of pinned folders.  My apologies that this explanation is a bit long.  

    For example, you have two client computers; one named Ted, the other Alice.  Ted pins a folder on server "Bob".  Alice pins the same folder such that the cache on Ted is the same as the cache on Alice.  Now Ted creates a new folder inside the folder he has already cached and that folder is synchronized to the server.  For Alice to bring that new folder down to her cache she must perform a "full" sync.  The default behavior in Windows XP favors performance.  Therefore, the sync-at-logon and sync-at-logoff behaviors do not by-default look for new files and folders inside of pinned folders when syncing from the server to the client.  You'll see two options titled "Sync all files at logon" and "Sync all files before logging off" in the "Offline Files" property page in the Folder Options property sheet.  The key word in those is "all".  Enabling those options causes a "full" sync to be performed at the associated time.  That full sync will pick up those new folders created by Ted.  Also note that a manual synchroization through Sync Manager or through the "Synchronize" option in Windows Explorer also performs a "full" sync operation.

    I hope this helps.  Let me know if it is not clear.  Again, please try Vista when you get a chance.  I think you'll like the result.

  • CCE, regarding your question on CSCCMD and excluding sub folders from caching...

    CSCCMD is not supported on Vista.  The Vista version of Offline Files (CSC) is a complete redesign from the previous version and CSCCMD is no longer compatible.  Vista introduces a new Offline Files management API that is publicly available.  A comprehensive API is available to both C/C++ programming via COM objects and interfaces.  A useful subset is available to script clients through a WMI provider.  See the header cscobj.h in the SDK for the C/C++ declarations and see objects with the name prefix Win32_OfflineFiles in the CIM repository for the WMI scripting.  The CIM repository contains some inline help content.  We are currently working on the documentation for MSDN.  If you have a specific question or comment on usage please mail me directly at  I will do what I can to assist you.  

    As for excluding a sub folder from being made avialable offline (i.e. pinned), that ability was removed in Vista.  Now, when a folder is pinned, all of its contents are pinned as well.  In our usability testing and internal use we learned that when users see that a folder is pinned they usually expect all descendents of that folder to be also pinned, not simply a subset.  Therefore, the all-or-nothing behavior was viewed as a better experience for most users, matching their expectations.

  • Several questions here.  I'll try to answer them in reverse order, each with a different post.

    Katie366 and PlanetF1...

    Check to make sure that caching is enabled on the share on the server.  Also, do you know if the share is hosted on a Windows Server or on a NAS device?  There are some known issues with non-MS implementations of SMB.

    Also note that the menu option is now titled "Always available offline".  This change was made to better align the functionality with the use of the term "always" in the new Offline Availability explorer property. For those familiar with our use of the term "pinned", "always avialable" means "pinned".  It means the item is avialable offline and protected from automatic eviction should the cache come under space pressure.