Tag Archives: Offline Files

Troubleshooting Offline Files

My previous post describes the normal operation of Offline Files. And most of the time, “it just works.” But there are times when it won’t, and getting it running again can be challenging.

Two Important concepts

First, it’s important to understand that the Offline Files facility is providing a virtual view of the network folder to which Documents has been redirected when Windows detects that the network folder is unavailable. This means that, when Offline Files is really borked, users can see different things in their Documents folder depending one whether their computers are online or offline.

Second, Windows treats different names for the same actual server as if they are different servers altogether. Specifically, Windows will only provide the Offline Files virtual view for the path to the target network folder. You can see the target folder path in the Properties of the Documents folder.

The Location tab shows the UNC path to the target network folder.

The Location tab shows the UNC path to the target network folder.

For example, these two UNC paths resolve to the same network folder:

\\files.uvm.edu\rallycat\MyDocs
\\winfiles1.campus.ad.uvm.edu\rallycat\MyDocs

If the second path is the one that is shown in the Location tab in the properties of the Documents folder, then you will be able to access that path while offline, but not the first path.

Show me the logs

There are event logs that can be examined. I’ll mention them, but I’ve rarely found them helpful in solving a persistent problem. If you want to get the client up and running again ASAP, skip ahead to the Fix it section.

There are some logging options available that can help in diagnosing problems with offline files. There are two logs that are normally visible in the Windows Event Viewer, under the Applications and Services logs heading:

  • Microsoft-Windows-Folder Redirection/Operational
  • Microsoft-Windows-OfflineFiles/Operational

Continue reading

Folder Redirection and Offline Files

The following information is not new. We are in the process of making changes to our Folder Redirection policy, though, and I thought it might be helpful to have this baseline information in a place that is handy for referral.

Background

Offline Files is a feature of Windows that was introduced in parallel with Folder Redirection in Windows 2000. Folder Redirection allows an administrator to relocate some of the user profile data folders to a network folder, which has the advantage of protecting that data from loss due to workstation issues like drive failure, malware infection, or theft. It also means you can access your data from multiple workstations.

The Offline Files facility provides a local cache of the redirected folder(s) so that mobile users can continue to work with the data in those folders when disconnected from the organization’s network. When the computer is connected to the network again, any changes to either the network folder or the local Offline Files cache are synchronized. Users are prompted to resolve any conflicting changes, e.g., the same file was modified in both places, or was deleted from one and modified in the other.

Continue reading

Reset Offline Files cache

For my reference, mostly…

In Windows XP: In Explore’s Tools → Folder Options → Offline Files, then press CTRL+SHIFT and click the “Delete Files” button. How Macintosh is that? I’ve had to perform that maneuver a few times. With Windows Vista and later, the reworked Offline Files facility has worked much better. But occasionally, the Offline Files database still gets munged.

NOTE: Once you set the value and reboot, all the content in the Offline Files cache for all accounts on the system is purged. You need to perform a sync operation in order to populate your files into the Offline Files cache again.

If you have files in the Offline Files cache that haven’t been successfully synced to the server, those files will be lost. For this reason, I will often make a local copy of “My Documents” to another folder on C: (e.g.: c:\temp\MyDocsCopy) while the network interfaces are disabled, to make sure I’m copying data from the cache. It never hurts to create a backup.

In Windows 7 and 8, the process requires setting a single registry value:

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

HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters\FormatDatabase

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.

In an elevated command prompt, run the following command.

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

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/230738
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/1073.robocopy-and-a-few-examples.aspx

Clearing Offline Files Cache in Vista

There’s a rather arcane process to reset the offline files cache on a Windows XP system. However, the offline files caching engine was reworked in Windows Vista. After a few google searches, I located some useful blog entries that referenced a KB article and described a process involving setting a registry key and rebooting:

“add the FormatDatabase registry entry to the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Csc\Parameters
Then, set the FormatDatabase registry entry to 1.
The restart your computer”

I had to create the Parameters subkey. I created DWORD value and restarted the system without a network connection. Indeed, my local cache of my redirected My Documents folder was gone.

Another link:
http://blogs.technet.com/filecab/archive/2006/12/12/moving-the-offline-files-cache-in-windows-vista.aspx

–Geoff