For information on normal operation of Offline Files, see Folder Redirection and Offline Files. If you are trying to resolve an issue, continue reading below.
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 Widows detects that the network folder is unavailable. This means that, when Offline Files is not working correctly, users can see different things in their Documents folder depending on whether their computer is 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.
For example, these two paths resolve to the same network folder:
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.
Getting the logs
There are event logs that can be examined. They can be helpful in resolving persistent issues, but in most cases you can skip ahead to the Resetting Offline Files section.
There are two logs that are normally visible in the Windows Event Viewer, under the Applications and Services logs heading:
Additionally, if you enable the Show Analytic and Debug Logs option in the View menu, you will be able to see the Microsoft/Windows/OfflineFiles/SyncLog section. These mostly show the same errors and messages that you see in the Sync Center.
Resetting Offline Files
If a user has errors in their Offline Files results and some basic troubleshooting hasn’t resolved the issue, the following procedure should restore Offline Files functionality while preserving any unsynced data in the Offline Files cache.
Preserve the current contents of the Offline Files cache
Disable ALL network connections, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This will enable you to work with the Offline Files cache, rather than the live network folder.
Copy the contents of the Documents folder to a local folder, e.g., C:tempMyDocsCopy. You can do this within File Explorer, or use a command-line tool like xcopy, robocopy, or PowerShell:
Reset the Offline Files cache
This procedure will reset the cache for all users on the computer. If there are multiple users, make sure that the other users’ data is syncing safely, or if not, make local backups for each.
You will use the following command, within an elevated command prompt, to create a single registry value:
After setting this value, you need to reboot the computer to complete the reset operation. Once you reboot, re-enable your network connections so that your computer can recreate the local Offline Files cache. An Ethernet connection will be preferable for the rest of this process, as you may need to sync a significant amount of data.
Compare the copy to the network folder
The local copy you made should contain any unsynced data that was stuck in the Offline Files cache prior to the reset operation. You can use a directory comparison or sync tool to identify any such data and save it to the network folder.
FreeFileSync is a popular open source tool for directory comparison and syncing. You can also RoboCopy or any other tool with which you may be familiar for syncing folders. A full description is beyond the scope of this article, but you can view some quick examples below.
Here, the user’s local copy of the Offline Files cache (C:\Temp\MyDocs\Copy) to the left pane of FreeFileSync. The synchronization variant has been set to Update (under Synchronization Settings) since you should just need to move any new or updated files to the network.
You should always do a comparison before making any actual changes, in case there are any changes that would cause you to lose data. You can click Compare to begin the analysis and view what files will be updated.
The FreeFileSync interface shows a quick summary of the count and size of files that will be overwritten (updated) on the destination. You can see more information by hovering over the files on each pane. If all of the changes look okay, you can now click the Synchronize button.
If you don’t mind (or prefer) a command-line interface, or you don’t want to install additional software, you can use the robocopy command. The format of the command is:
The most important option to add is /L which makes robocopy LIST the files and folders, but not actually copy anything. You can use this option to make sure you get the correct behavior in the list-only output before, avoiding possible data loss if there is a problem. The options used in the command example below are as follows:
|/L||List-only mode; don’t add, delete or modify any files|
|/S||process (non-empty) Subdirectories recursively|
|/XO||eXclude Older files (existing in both places, but file in source is older)|
|/XX||eXclude eXtra files and folders (files and folder that exist only in destination)|
|/NDL||No Directory Logging (default is to log filecount for each directory processed)|
Here’s the command as it executed against the same folders as FreeFileSync above:
If you want to perform the file sync, remove the /L option and run the command again.
Once all data have been moved to the network folder, you can remove the local copy. You may want to hold onto it for a bit, only deleting it once you are confident everything has moved correctly.