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Offline Files overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Offline Files overview

Using Offline Files, you can continue to work with network files and programs even when you are not connected to the network.

If you lose your connection to the network or undock your portable computer, your view of shared network resources that have been made available offline remains the same as when you were connected. You can continue to work with them as you normally do. You have the same access permissions to those files and folders as you would have if you were connected to the network. When the status of your connection changes, an Offline Files icon appears in the notification area and a reminder balloon appears over the notification area to notify you of the change.

When your network connection is restored or you dock your portable computer, any changes that you made while working offline are updated to the network by default. When you and someone else on the network have made changes to the same file, you have the option of saving your version of the file to the network, keeping the other version, or saving both.

For more information about synchronizing files with Synchronization Manager, see Synchronization Manager overview.


  • You can initiate synchronization manually or you can set Synchronization Manager to control when offline files are synchronized with the network. Offline Files controls whether a full or quick synchronization is performed. A full synchronization ensures that you have the most current version of every network file that has been made available offline. A quick synchronization is much faster than a full synchronization, but may not provide the most current version of every network file that has been made available offline. However, a quick synchronization does ensure that a complete version of every file is available so that you can continue working.

  • Any shared files or folders on a Microsoft network can be made available offline. You can make files available offline from any computer that supports Server Message Block-based (SMB) File and Printer Sharing, including Microsoft® Windows® 95, Windows® 98, Windows NT® version 4.0, Microsoft® Windows® XP, and the Windows Server 2003 family. Offline Files is not available on Novell NetWare networks.

  • The system administrator can set up shared folders so that every network file you open in that shared folder is automatically made available offline, or so that only those network files you choose are made available offline.

  • If a shortcut to a file is made available offline, that file is made available offline. If a shortcut to a folder is made available offline, the contents of that folder will not be made available offline.

  • In the Windows Server 2003 family, Offline Files is not enabled by default. To enable Offline Files, see Set up your computer to use Offline Files.

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