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|Subject:||Configuring Offline Files in Windows XP Professional|
|Keywords:||Microsoft WinXP Home Professional Working Offline File Feature|
|Tech Article Number:||WBTA20000869|
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Offline Files allows you to keep using network files, folders, and applications when disconnected from the network. To users, this is transparent; offline, they’ll have the same access permissions to the files and folders that are available when they’re connected to the network. Best of all, when they reconnect, all the changes they’ve made to those files will be made to the files on the network, via offline file synchronization. Any file or folder that is shared on a Microsoft network can be made available offline, as long as the computer on which it’s stored supports SMB-based file and printer sharing. (This includes all Windows 9x/NT4/2000/XP computers.)
Because mobile users often have to contend with disk-space limitations on laptops or notebooks, the Offline Files feature allows you, as the administrator, to specify the amount of space that can be used for automatic caching of offline files on the local computer. (This doesn’t limit the ability to store additional offline files manually.) We’ll discuss how to configure cache limits later in this article. The default configuration settings for Offline Files are, in general, optimized for the needs of mobile users.
Configuring Offline Files in Windows XP Professional
Three steps are involved in setting up your or your user’s Windows XP Professional computer to use Offline Files:
Enabling Offline Files
Before you can make any content available offline, you must enable the use of Offline Files on your computer.
Check the box to enable Offline Files. This page is also used to configure Offline Files settings, which will be discussed in the next section.
Configuring Offline Files settings
On the Offline Files page, in addition to enabling Offline Files, you can also specify:
You can also use these buttons:
4. On the Offline Files tab click on the Advanced button to reach the
Making files and folders available offline
To make a file or folder available offline, it must first be shared.
Setting caching options on shared folders
Offline Files works by creating a cache on the computer’s local hard disk and storing the shared network files that are designated as offline files in this cache. You configure the caching options for each shared folder made available offline. The caching options are set from the Shared Folders node in the Computer Management MMC (accessed by right-clicking My Computer and selecting Manage).
Tip: The default caching setting is Manual Caching For Documents.
Using Offline Files
After you’ve set up the computer to enable Offline Files and made the selected files or folders available offline, other users can connect to the offline files and work with them over the network and then continue working with them after the connection between your computer and theirs is broken.
If Offline Files is configured to display a balloon notification, when the network connection is broken, the user will see an Offline Files icon appear in the status area to the right of the taskbar buttons on the Windows XP taskbar.
When the network connection is restored (for example, when you plug your laptop back into the docking station or plug a live Ethernet cable into its PC Card NIC), the status-bar information will change, and modifications that you have made to offline files since the disconnection will be updated to the network files automatically.
You can synchronize offline files manually. You can also schedule them to be synchronized at a specified time with the Synchronization Manager.
The two types of synchronization are:
To open the Synchronization Manager:
Tip: Check the last box on the Idle Settings dialog box to prevent synchronization from occurring while your portable computer is running on battery power, to avoid draining the batteries.
Using the Scheduled Synchronization tab, you can set times for synchronization to occur automatically. Clicking the Add button on this tab will invoke the Scheduled Synchronization Wizard.
With the wizard, you can select a time and day when you want the synchronization to start and how often synchronization should occur. You’ll then be asked to give the synchronization job a name, and it will be entered into the list of current synchronization tasks.
Tip: You can manually synchronize an individual file or folder by selecting it in Windows Explorer or My Computer and selecting Tools | Synchronize.
Understanding and resolving file conflicts
If more than one person works with the same offline files, the possibility of file conflicts arises. There can be differing versions of the file to which different modifications have been made. When you synchronize files, those that you have modified since disconnecting from the network will be compared to the versions of those same files on the network server. Your changes will be copied to the network versions—if no one else has modified the network files while you were working offline.
If someone else did change the files during that time, a file conflict arises. Which version should be kept on the network—the one copied to the network while you were offline or the one containing the modifications you made while offline? You’ll be asked to choose one of the following:
If you elect to keep both versions, you’ll need to give your version a different name. Both versions will be saved to your local disk and the network server.
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