Offline Files and Folder Redirection

Published: October 6, 2010

Updated: February 8, 2012

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista

Offline Files (Client Side Caching or CSC) and Folder Redirection are two features that are often used together to redirect the path of local folders such as the Documents folder to a network location, while caching the contents locally for increased speed and reliability.

Implementing Roaming User Profiles instead of Folder Redirection? These features used to be referred to as the User State Management aspect of Intellimirror.

Folder redirection is a feature that allows users and administrators to redirect the path of a folder to a new location, manually or by using Group Policy. The new location can be a folder on the local computer or a directory on a network share. Users have the ability to work with documents on a server as if the documents were based on the local drive. For example, you can redirect the Documents folder, which is usually stored on the computer's local hard disk, to a network location. The documents in the folder are available to the user from any computer on the network.

Offline Files (also known as Client Side Caching or CSC) makes network files available to an end user when a network connection to the server is unavailable or slow. When working online, file access performance is at the speed of the network and server. When the server is unavailable or the network connection is slower than a configurable threshold, files are retrieved from the Offline Files folder at local access speeds.

The following groups might be interested in folder redirection and offline files:

  • Administrators that want to centralize data from client computers for administrative tasks such as using a server-based backup tool to backup user folders.

  • Network administrators that want to optimize bandwidth usage and enhance the experience of users in branch offices who access files and folders that are hosted by corporate servers located offsite.

  • Users that want to continue to access network files if there is a network outage.

  • Mobile users that need to access network files while working offline or over slow networks.

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