Take WSS folders offline (& in sync) without purchasing anything.


I have had a number of queries from customers about the simplest way to take a folder of documents that are stored in a WSS site offline with them when the leave the office, and keep those folders updated when they get back into the office.


 


Well … without going and purchasing a nice tool like Revelation … here is what I have found to work pretty well.  (Note:  This will only work in Windows XP as far as I know.)


 


1. First you need to go and download the SyncToy which is one of the Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP.  This little guy will allow you to keep two folders in sync.


 


2. Then you need to go and create yourself a ‘Network Place’ for the WSS folder you would like to keep in sync.  To do this you need to:


 




  • Open ‘My Network Places’


  • Right click ‘My Network Places’ and choose ‘Map Network Drive’


  • click ‘Sign up for an online storage or connect to a network server’


  • Next


  • Click ‘Choose another network location’


  • enter in the full path to the WSS folder E.g. http://someserver.com/sites/site/folder (Note: i just entered the full path ... didnt try and browse for the folder)


  • complete the wizard … and you will have a new Network Place.

 


3. Start SyncToy and create a new folder pair.  I chose the ‘Synchronise’ option.  Pick a local folder to sync to for the left folder and choose your newly created network place for the right folder.


 


4. Hit the sync button … and all working correctly you should have the folders all sync’d.  You might need to enter credentials for your WSS site if it does not use integrated auth.


 


I am now using this to keep a couple of WSS folders on my laptop.  One is an internally hosted and the other is externally hosted.  They both seem to work well.


 


What would be really cool is doing this with your 'My Documents' folder and your My Site.  I might have to try this out.



 


You can also schedule the SyncToy to keep the folders updated.  See the Help documentation to see how to do with the Windows Task Scheduler.


 


Happy offline foldering!


 


UPDATE:


There seem to be some people who are having problems with this.  So i have taken another look at it.


I have followed the instructions to the letter above & have no problems.


Most people seem to be having the problem that they cant pick the Network Place in Sync Toy.  I have no problem picking my newly created Network Place for the left or the right folder.


Something to try would be to manually type the address into the address box, instead of picking it via the browse button.


E.g. \\servername.domain.com\DocumentLibraryName


See if that helps.


FYI: i am running XP SP2 with all latest hotfixes etc...


UPDATE 2:


I have been playing around with Frontpage RPCs and WSS recently.  One of the things i have noticed is that there are issues with dealing with SSL certs if you dont have things set up right.  I have found that my code works perfectly if there are no certificate validation errors (like untrusted cert etc... / expired).


This makes me think.  Are the problems people are having due to a SSL cert not being valid?  A good way to test this is to vist the WSS site in IE and if you go NO errors or warnings about the cert then you should be right.


Let me know if this works for you.


Comments (62)

  1. romeo says:

    For italian reader please read here: http://blogs.devleap.com/romeopruno/archive/2005/09/11/5693.aspx for more information about this tool

  2. Steven L says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am having some trouble getting the web folders working through your ‘map network drive’ steps above. I can generally add web folders, but not all of the time. I normally have them added by clicking on the ‘explorer’ view on my WSS document library I would like to sync. Then it shows up in the web folders under network places.

    When I open synctoy and try picking the network place for the ‘right’ folder it asks for authentication and I type it in, but then nothing happens. It just doesnt try to add the web folder to the folder pair.

    Can you help me with my problem.

    I would like to use this process for keeping some document libraries files updated on our Sharepoint site from local folders on my computer.

    I enjoyed your Sharepoint template creation demo at TechEd in AKL too. 🙂

    Cheers

  3. Roland says:

    I tried this but when I select a SharePoint site from my Network Places it does nothing. It just goes back to the main screen and the Right (or Left) Folder text box is empty and the Next button is disabled. Has anyone else experienced this?

    I also noticed you cannot select an individual document library, list or folder. You have to sync everything within that Network Place.

    It seems Revelation is pretty inexpensive. I don’t know how much iOra is. You’re probably better off with a product like that if you really need to do this for business.

  4. Merijn says:

    I tried this. On creating a new folder pair it seems impossible to add the freshmade webfolder (networkplace) as one of the synchro folders. On selecting the webfolder, via Browse, it simply doesnt appear in the selection box. Neiter left or right.. Chris im very curious how you managed to get this working in the way you described above. If you have time let me know.

  5. Christian says:

    I have the same bad Experiences as Roland and Merijin. When I try to add the network place nothing at all happens.

    Maybe Chris had an earlier version that supported Webdav?

  6. rachel says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’am glad I found this post. However, I couldn’t pick my newly created network place for the right folder in SyncToy. No matter the network place is a doc lib or a site, when I select My Network Places –> Highlight the Doc Lib web folder ("OK" enabled) –> select "OK" –> there is nothing in the Right Folder and "Next" is disabled.

    What did I miss here?

    Thanks,

    rachel

  7. chjohn says:

    There seem to be some people who are having problems with this. So i have taken another look at it.

    I have followed the instructions to the letter above & have no problems.

    Most people seem to be having the problem that they cant pick the Network Place in Sync Toy. I have no problem picking my newly created Network Place for the left or the right folder.

    Something to try would be to manually type the address into the address box, instead of picking it via the browse button.

    E.g. \servername.domain.comDocumentLibraryName

    See if that helps.

    FYI: i am running XP SP2 with all latest hotfixes etc…

  8. rachel says:

    Chris,

    Thanks for trying out for us. I typed in the address but I am not sure if that’s the right format. For example, the url was http://server.domain.com/sites/site/doclib, then is the address "\server.domain.comsitessitedoclib"?

    I typed the above address in but I got "Unable to access \server.domain.comsites. Is the network connected or are all removable devices plugged in?"

    I do have XP SP2 installed. For WSS, I haven’t installed SP2 yet.

  9. rachel says:

    Russell Powell had this post on Microsoft Forum regarding this problem:

    "Hey just wanted to say this is a great tool. I am using it successfully to

    sync folders on two machines and am happy with its capabilities for that.

    But, I would really like to be able to sync between a local folder and a

    sharepoint document library. Apparently this is possible to achieve as long

    as your sharepoint site is not using SSL. Unfortunately this is the case

    with me and I suspect with many others. I was wondering if there were plans

    to address this in the future? Also could you explain why this does not work

    with SSL, as the functionality of "Web Folders" does allow for the creation

    of "Network Places" that use SLL."

    Could that be the answer?

  10. chjohn says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I have been testing this against a WSS site that sits on the LAN and is just using http. So i have not tested this with https.

    It sounds like this could very well be the problem.

    Are you trying to use SSL?

  11. rachel says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m not sure if my sites are using SSL, but the WSS is installed on the remote server.

    Can you check if the sites are using SSL from client side?

    rachel

  12. chjohn says:

    When you set up the Network place did you use http:// or https:// in the address?

  13. rachel says:

    Well, I tried on three different WSS servers. Two of them have https://, and one has http://.

    None of them work.

    The one with http:// is not publicly accessable.

    So I guess if with https://, then it is using SSL. And if http:// is not publicly accessable, then SyncToy won’t work on it either, right?

  14. chjohn says:

    If you are able to use IE to get to the http:// site you are talking about then this should work. Unless there is something like a firewall that is doing something that is nasty to your request.

  15. rachel says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for all your advice, they are very helpful. I think the conclusion is Synctoy works on SharePoint using neither SSL nor firewall.

    Well, do you know any other way to sync local folder and SharePoint DocLib? Will enable offline files (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/mobility/learnmore/offlinefiles.mspx) do the job?

    Thanks

  16. chjohn says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I have had sucess using this through a firewall. This is just port 80 (http) traffic so it should work, unless your firewall is filtering at an application level.

  17. rachel says:

    This might sound stupid, but how to tell the firewall is filtering at an application level?

  18. chjohn says:

    You probably need to go and ask the people that run your firewall. I dont think there is an easy way to tell otherwise.

  19. Tom says:

    Some of the problems could be the result of DNS problems, depending on how IIs is setup. If using host headers for your WSS site, you may need a DNS forward lookup on the server.

  20. ChrisB says:

    SyncToy stores its data in a folder named "SyncToyData" in your "My Documents" folder. On our network this is read-only and points to our file server – is it possible to change this directory to somewhere on the local machine like c:/ ?

  21. kiwi says:

    I just downloaded sync toy version 1.2 to try over an https connection.

    Stil no luck

  22. chjohn says:

    ChrisB,

    I am not aware if this is possible or not.  sorry.

  23. Jon says:

    I tried this method on a straight WebDav directory, no sharepoint is installed on the box, the only thing that is a little out of the ordinary is I am running the Web Folder on port 8080.  I had no luck adding the mapped WebFolder to SyncToy.  

  24. Kim says:

    Your above instructions have helped me a lot cheers. One question though….will Synctoy tranfer a folder if it is an empty folder? I am Transfering from my Docs into WSS which has been sucessful apart from one folder which doesn’t contain any files.

    Is this correct?

  25. Jonas says:

    I’ve just tried this against three different servers.

    All three servers are Windows Sharepoint Servers running on the same physical server.

    2 of them are running SSL

    1 is not.

    All tests are done inside our network so no firewall och ISA server are involved.

    It works perfect on 2 of the 3 servers. 1 with SSL and one without SSL.

    But on the last server I can’t get it to work.

    That server will not accept \serversitefolder when trying to map a drive.

    And I can’t map a drive to https://server/site/folder.

    Someone that got an idea?

  26. damo says:

    We had the same problem about a year ago and also could not find an elegant solution.

    As a workaround we created a mirror web site on the sharepoint server but without SSL so the users could map a drive letter. This site pointed back to the same database so essentially the users were working on the same files and we could now map to a drive letter with ‘net use’ in our login scripts. The mirror site had everything else removed (home page, mysite etc) and we did not create an ‘A’ record for the site so it was only available in the intranet/LAN.

    Not the best solution but did get us over the line for all out internal users. If anyone knows of a nicer solution to mapping a drive letter to an SSL sharepoint box then please let me know.

    Thanks

    Damo

  27. chjohn says:

    I have been doing some digging around this … and may have found the reason people are having problems setting this up with SSL.

    Please read the UPDATE 2 section in the post.

    Thanks,  Chris.

  28. Barry Jinks says:

    You may want to try Colligo Reader.  It avoids the problems experienced with SyncToy and allows you to take not only documents, but metadata, lists and views offline.  And it’s completely free.  You can get it here -> http://www.colligo.com/products/sharepoint/reader.asp.

    For a discussion of SyncToy have a look at our blog here -> http://www.offlinesharepoint.com/topic/synctoy/

    Barry Jinks,

    Founder & CEO,

    Colligo Networks, Inc.

  29. Jonas says:

    Response on "update 2".

    We have new certificates and they are valid och not outdated.

    There’s no error connecting to the website.

    Besides thet I have one site with SSL that is workning.

    The site that is not working with SSL is on the same server but another website.

    Regards

  30. randy says:

    i am also having problems mapping a drive to a sharepoint site that uses SSL. it seems that i can get this to work on a sharepoint site NOT using SSl, but once i enable SSL, it fails.

    i am using a java redirect to redirect all http traffic to https…. and there are no certificate errors whatsoever.

    anythoughts?

  31. Steve says:

    A friend recommended adding "http://*.mycompany.com" to the Trusted Sites list and now I’m able to map and Sync with no problems. Before, I got the same grayed-out "OK" that other folks were having.The wildcard may not be necessary, but it works.

  32. ShareGo says:

    Please have a look at our tool… Offers offline solution for SharePoint and much more.

    The most elegant and smart solution out there… easy… by far the best option on the market today.

    We’ll be very happy to have your thoughts.

    Thanks

    N. Geva

    sharego@kwizcom.com

  33. MSchukn says:

    I tried this and found that certain types cannot be mapped, but I can put them into the PowerToy.

    Anyhow the Powertoy has connection problems. This is probably becuase it is a https secured site.

    When working with the explorer I can drag and drop the files and folders, but are prompted for Username/PW. After that also multiple file operations do not work.

    Do you know any Tool or have Idea on how to sync an HTTPS sharepointe site ? Even with revelation I could not make it… .

  34. Sathe says:

    I ran into two problems.  The first is that Synctoy requires .net 2.0 support.  If you don’t have it, it doesn’t tell you that you need it or don’t have it.  took me a bit to find that answer.  Now all installed and it worked the first few times.  Now it appears to be stuck in READ ONLY mode and I can’t figure out why.  Hope the first bit helps some and that someone will know the answer to the second.

  35. Dneska jsem dostal na semináři k vývoji nad WSS otázku ohledně možnosti kopírování souborů z SharePointu…

  36. Christian says:

    Anyone figure out how to make this work with SharePoint and SSL.   I’m pretty convinced that is the issue.  I am able to select an intranet location with any problem.   But if I try to select a location on my extranet which is SSL secured, I can’t get the OK button to let me select a library.

  37. Chuck says:

    The problem with using SyncToy with mapped drives may have more to do with a bug Windows XP than SyncToy.  In fact, I think there may be two bugs in Windows that might impact this.

    I believe these access methods are using the WebDAV protocol to communicate with the server.  Iin this case, the server is Sharepoint, but there are lots of other WebDAV servers.  Windows XP had some major bugs in how it works with WebDAV.  This pretty much renders it useless for anything but the most simple usage. One of the bugs has to do with SSL.

    This has caused me no end of headaches trying to work around this.  I’ve been forced to work with third party tools, and even to develop my own.  When all I should need is NET USE.

    I have no idea why Microsoft never fixed these bugs.  I sure hope they are fixed in Vista.

  38. chuck salvo says:

    We fought with this for 20 minutes, make sure that you don’t take the full url – you need to replace any %20 with spaces. Once we did this we were able to use the power toy. Another indicator that your network place is wrong is that it is showing up as a web folder – it should look like a normal folder.

  39. Harry Percival says:

    have struggled with this myself.  have the same issue reported by a number of ppl, namely around the failure of the ‘next’ button to appear once i’ve selected a network place mapped to a sharepoint share

    the sharepoint site is https

    have tried:

    – different doclibs within the same sharepoint site

    – microsoft kb registry fix to allow simple authorisation

    – adding portal to trusted sites

    – checking that .NET 2.0 is installed

    – checking that there are no SSL certificate errors

    davcopy also systematically gives me 401 errors…

  40. Harry Percival says:

    Have been struggling with the same issue as a number of people have mentioned – using network places doesnt work, next button not available, eventually found a solution that seems to work.  anyone experiencing similar issues can give this a try…

    I used a tool called "webdrive"  (<a href="http://www.webdrive.com/index.html"&gt; here </a> ) to map a drive letter to our sharepoint site.

    i then use this drive letter to browse to my destination folder in synctoy.  130 files sync’ed so far, and counting!

  41. Andy says:

    I had issues using this if using the "Network Places" to set my mapped drive. If I instead went to My Computer and set up a network drive from there, then it mapped okay.

    I used a mapping to the site containing the data I wanted (e.g. http://portal/site/sub-site/) in the Folder: box (I didn’t use the link to add web stuff).

    Once I had added this i could then specify sub folders in my SyncTool pair instead.

    Works a treat!!

  42. stillhavagunn says:

    This is about as related a forum as i can find yet…

    Can anyone help me figure out how to package the Default page of a SharePoint site (default.aspx), as an offline demo?

    i.e., in html, this is easy and often utilized, with the default page previewed locally pulling from a supporting folder.

    any help.??

  43. pvlnarayana says:

    Chris,

    I tried using SyncToy with a MOSS 2007 mysite folder and got a message that the FileSyncProvider encountered an unexpected error. I am pasting the text from the log file below. I had mapped the private folder of the mysite to the drive W in this experiment and gave the full credentials along with the network mapping. Any help in this regard would be very much appreciated. I am using SyncToy v2.0.

    ——————-log file————–

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:34:28:694: ————————————————————————-

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:34:28:694: Starting SyncToy, version 2.0.100.0, built 8/12/2008 2:07:12 PM.

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:06:549: Started scanning directory : C:Documents and SettingspottumartilDesktopmyinftemp

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:06:549: Started scanning directory : W:Personal Documents

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:06:721: Stopped scanning directory : C:Documents and SettingspottumartilDesktopmyinftemp

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:10:517: Stopped scanning directory : W:Personal Documents

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:10:751: Preview of mossdemo upload (C:Documents and SettingspottumartilDesktopmyinftemp, W:Personal Documents) in time 00:00:04:185.

    SyncToy action was ‘Echo’

    Found 1 actions to perform.

    Found 8 files that did not require action.

    Analyzed 1.9 files per second.

    Avoided copying 44,132 bytes in 8 files.

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:15:577: *** Exception during run: {0} :

    System.ArgumentException: The FileSyncProvider received an unexpected error while applying a synchronized change.

      at Microsoft.Synchronization.CoreInterop.ISyncSession.Start(CONFLICT_RESOLUTION_POLICY resolutionPolicy, _SYNC_SESSION_STATISTICS& pSyncSessionStatistics)

      at Microsoft.Synchronization.KnowledgeSyncOrchestrator.DoOneWaySyncHelper(SyncIdFormatGroup sourceIdFormats, SyncIdFormatGroup destinationIdFormats, KnowledgeSyncProviderConfiguration destinationConfiguration, SyncCallbacks DestinationCallbacks, ISyncProvider sourceProxy, ISyncProvider destinationProxy, Int32& changesApplied, Int32& changesFailed)

      at Microsoft.Synchronization.KnowledgeSyncOrchestrator.DoOneWayKnowledgeSync(SyncProvider sourceProvider, SyncProvider destinationProvider, Int32& changesApplied, Int32& changesFailed)

      at Microsoft.Synchronization.KnowledgeSyncOrchestrator.Synchronize()

      at Microsoft.Synchronization.SyncOrchestrator.Synchronize()

      at SyncToy.SyncEngine.CreateAndStartSession(FileSyncProvider destinationProvider, FileSyncProvider sourceProvider)

      at SyncToy.SyncEngine.RunSyncSessionsForChosenSyncType(FileSyncProvider leftProvider, FileSyncProvider rightProvider, SyncMode syncMode)

      at SyncToy.SyncEngine.Run(Boolean previewMode)

      at SyncToy.SyncEngine.Sync()

      at SyncToyUI.PreviewDialog.RunOnePair(SyncEngine syncEngine)

    SYNC: 08/26/2008 14:36:15:577: *** Exception during run: The FileSyncProvider received an unexpected error while applying a synchronized change.

    ——————-end of log———————

  44. Abe Farris says:

    Make sure the WebClient Service is Started.

    Once I started, I was able to map a drive.

  45. I Don't like Colons says:

    It seems Synctoy 2.0 parses the Left Folder, Right Folder upon key-entry and so specifically looks for : in the usual places. Its expecting that the : is going to be used for a drive letter designator (noscope for the future huh !). It also parses out any / and : after the second character. So for me the above method DOESN’T work, and just the like author says: I’m using windows Windows XP SP2 and all the latest breakfixes – I mean hotfixes.

  46. Interesting post, with what seems varying degrees of success and doesn’t seem to be very robust.

    Not having seen this ‘working in action’ I would be worried how it handles version control, check in/out and document properties.

    The above is handled already by Outlook 2007, so for those users whom have this already, Outlook will take your documents/lists offline for you without the need to setup anything on the local client in terms of network places, etc.

  47. EspiC says:

    100% Correct Andy…

    Extract from an "Overview of Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and Outlook 2007" in MS Outlook Help

    What is new in document sharing

    By using the new features in document sharing, you can collect, preview, edit, and manage SharePoint documents from within Outlook.

    Single point of access   If you use Outlook to search for a document, Outlook will search all the SharePoint documents that you are connected to and all e-mail attachments as well. Document previews enable you to browse through search results.

    Faster editing   Opening and saving changes to SharePoint documents from Outlook is faster than before and can also be done when you are offline. SharePoint documents and folders that are connected to Outlook are synchronized in the background, so that copies of each are always available for editing on your local computer.

    Preview and search capabilities   New attachment previewing and search features in Outlook also work for SharePoint documents.

  48. Looking for the Https solution says:

    There is a defect with SyncToy 2.0 as described below:

    Hi –

    We have found the problem while syncing to Sharepoint folders and I am afraid that we do not have a workaround for this. So while you can sync down from a sharepoint site – you cannot sync files upto a sharepoint site successfully. We are working on a fix for this and it we will include it in our next SyncToy update.

    Thanks

    Deepa

    This is from the Microsoft Support Forum http://forums.microsoft.com/sync/showpost.aspx?postid=4185078&siteid=75&sb=0&d=1&at=7&ft=11&tf=0&pageid=2

  49. I have found another that seems to work pretty well. Alway Sync will allow you to sync a wide variety of locations (source and destination) in either or both directions. You can also make this run when to automatically sync the two locations when something is changed or added. So there is no manual intervention.

    http://allwaysync.com/

    I found this forum searching for a way to sync a network share with a document library, which is particularly helpful when setting up SharePoint to eventaully replace the drives. You can keep them in sync until your cut-off date.

    After talking with a colleague of mine, we also realized that this can be used as an export tool. So to take offline, like the main subject of this forum, or to even automate an export so that any particular files are available in an alternative location (DR) when needed.

    Just thought it might help to put this out, knowing how long it took me to find something that worked the way I needed. BTW… It works with SSL too.

  50. I have found another that seems to work pretty well. Alway Sync will allow you to sync a wide variety of locations (source and destination) in either or both directions. You can also make this run when to automatically sync the two locations when something is changed or added. So there is no manual intervention.

    http://allwaysync.com/

    I found this forum searching for a way to sync a network share with a document library, which is particularly helpful when setting up SharePoint to eventaully replace the drives. You can keep them in sync until your cut-off date.

    After talking with a colleague of mine, we also realized that this can be used as an export tool. So to take offline, like the main subject of this forum, or to even automate an export so that any particular files are available in an alternative location (DR) when needed.

    Just thought it might help to put this out, knowing how long it took me to find something that worked the way I needed. BTW… It works with SSL too.

  51. Steve says:

    I removed the %20’s from the url from my company’s SharePoint site, replaced them with spaces, and the network mapping worked like a champ!

  52. Dr who says:

    OK I hope folks scroll down this far.

    For some WebDAV folders you are not going to be able to Map the http://yourdrive.yourdoma.com:80/~whatever as a drive, SyncToy wont recognize the link even tho you can browse to it.

    SOLUTION:

    You need to get a program to make an affiliation of the hyperlink to a drive designation. There is s free program made by Novell called netdrive.exe (http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/qna/999.html)

    Unfortunatly they dont give it away because of licensing issues, but there are plenty of safe places to pull it down from. Its free to use.

    Once you setup the http address to a drive letter you can then go into sync toy and setup your profile. I’m using it right now and it works flawlessly.

    Cheers,

    Dr

  53. Mr V says:

    Thanks for the tip, I only needed to know how to map the share point to a network drive, worked like a charm.

  54. Arry says:

    SyncToy creates a hidden .dat file to allow it to work out renames, deletes, etc….  The issue I have is this hidden file is visible in the SharePoint document library.  

    Any ideas how I can hide this from the users?

  55. Jay says:

    Great toy but no good if you don’t want to replace documents. Each time you edit and upload it will replace the version that’s there as opposed to increasing the version number which would allow you to get at the old versions.

    This means if someone syncs and replaces the document if you suddenly need a previous version it’ll have been deleted!

  56. Streve says:

    Anyone looked at Qidron Accelerator for Microsoft SharePoint?

    I downloaded their client and was impressed with the level of offline SharePoint and email management features they offer for SharePoint.

    They seem to support a whole range of additional features like:

    1. Scan to SharePoint

    2. SharePoint email Management

    3. SharePoint training

    4. Offline SharePoint

    5. SharePoint reporting

    6. Branding and other features

    http://www.qidron.com/

    I will continue my eval of their solution, it looks promising.

    Steve

  57. Jitendra Agarwal says:

    I have used this tool in windows 7 also and it is working fine for me.

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