What Are Offline Files?
Offline files are the cached files that are available to the mobile users even if they are not connected to the file server. When mobile users work with offline files they simply work with them just as they were working on the actual files located on the file servers.
In production environments administrators install and configure file servers that store files for the users so that they can be accessed from the remote computers. Under normal circumstances, that is, when users work in office premises it is likely that they are always connected to the file server and whenever they want to access the file that is located on the remote file server, they can remotely access the files. This practice makes day-to-day work in an organization quite simpler.
However when it comes to mobile users, that is, users who work in the organizations on part-time basis and use their own laptop PCs, it is expected that they will not be available in the office premises for quite a long duration. In such cases if they want to access some files that are stored on file servers, they are normally bound to sit in the offices to access them. With help of offline files feature administrators can eliminate this problem by making the shared files available offline for such mobile users. When the files are made available offline mobile users can cache the files on their local laptop PCs and can leave the office premises. When they are not connected to the file servers even then they can access those offline files as if they were working directly on them.
Once users have updated the local cached copies of the files on their laptop PCs they are saved there till the time the laptops are reconnected to the file servers. As soon as they reconnect to the file servers the files are automatically synchronized according to the timestamp and most updated versions of the files are finally stored on the file servers as the original copies of the files.
Enabling “Always Available Offline” Feature in Windows 8
When Windows 8 Developers Preview operating system is installed on a computer and users try to open Sync Centre and try to go to Manage Offline Files, the two buttons namely Open Sync Centre and View your offline files are grayed out.
Although Offline Files feature is enabled by default, “Always Available Off-Line” option in the context menu still remains unavailable. In order to rectify this problem, administrators must add the following registry DWORD in the Windows 8 registry:
- Logon to Windows 8 computer with administrator account.
- Click Start and at the bottom of start menu in search box type REGEDIT and press enter key.
- On the User Account Control confirmation box click Yes to confirm.
- On Registry Editor window from the left pane navigate and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters\.
- Right-click on Parameters container and from the context menu go to and click New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
- Rename the newly created DWORD to FormatDatabase and once done, specify its value as 1 by double-clicking on the DWORD and entering the value in Value data field.
- Once done, close Registry Editor and restart the computer.
- Both greyed out buttons mentioned above will now be enabled.
How to Make Shared Files Always Available Offline?
Administrators must follow the steps below in order to make shared files always available offline:
- Log on to Windows 8 computer.
- Assuming that the computer has been configured to display classic start menu, click Start and in the search box at the bottom of the menu type the UNC path to the server where shared folders are located.
- Once there, right click on the folder that has to be made available offline and from the context menu click to select Always Available Offline.
- Wait for Sync Centre to complete the synchronization.
- If required, restart the computer to allow the configuration to take effect.
Click here to know more about offline files