Debugging Problems With Offline Files


As promised, I’m returning to the topic of offline files. My previous article resulted in a lot of comments, so the client-side caching team have kindly pointed me at their internal FAQ. It’s not yet in a customer-ready form, but I’ll try to use it to answer some of the requests for help.



  • Robert Lewis asked how to stop synchronization complaining when the server-side share has been moved. According to the FAQ, you can either rename the share in the cache by using csccmd /moveshare, or delete the files from the cache using the “Delete Files” button on the Offline Files tab.
  • William Barrow and Bob Wilson both ran into the problem of being unable to access their offline files after an account change. There’s a blank below this question in the FAQ, but from the syntax of csccmd it looks like csccmd /resid should do the trick.

The csccmd.exe utility is part of the Windows Server resource kit, which you can download from here.


Edit: I’ve turned off comments on this thread – if you have a question, please go here instead.

Comments (74)

  1. Jim Robbins says:

    I’ve found the following issues with Offline Shares on Windows XP SP2 when running as a Limited User:

    1) If the server is not available when logging on or off then an error message is displayed. This is a real problem for users on laptops who will be connected to their home networks a substantial number of times when they log on or off.

    2) Going to Programs->Accessories->Synchronize or running mobsync.exe brings up the "Items to Synchronize" dialog. There are options to synchronize items when logging on or logging off, or on a schedule. However, all the user options for Offline Files have supposedly been disabled using group policy. It appears that mobsync.exe is not honoring that policy.

    3) Even after turning off automatic syncronization and balloon reminders using both the local computer and the domain group policy I was still getting the syncronization attempts at log on and log off. I had to turn off those options using mobsync as well.

    4) The /logon and /logoff switches to mobsync.exe don’t work. The server copy of the files aren’t updated. If I click the Offline Files tray icon and click OK at the "Offline Files Status" dialog then the server copy is updated.

    5) The whole reason for these observations it that I don’t want to get error messages because the server is unavailable. Instead what I was hoping to do is write a script that will would use WMI to verify that there is a network connection, check for the existence of the server, and then try to sync the files. However, if the mobsync command line options aren’t working then I can’t automatically sync. Does anyone know what API the mobsync program is calling?

    Jim

  2. Hi Jim – mobsync is actually a general-purpose synchronization manager that’s used for other synchronization stuff as well (e.g. to a PocketPC). The offline file synchronization functionality we’re interested is provided via a particular set of "handlers" that plug into mobsync’s public COM interfaces. So at login and logoff there are two checks done – first, does mobsync do something, and second (and only if mobsync does do something), does the set of offline file handlers do something.

    So, in #2 you disabled the second check, and in #3 you disabled the first check (and shut the thing up :-)).

    Then we get to #4 – but had you undone your previous changes from #2? Otherwise mobsync would be telling the offline file handlers to sync, but they’d be disabled by group policy and hence not doing anything.

    The mobsync interfaces are ISyncMgrSynchronize, ISyncMgrSynchronizeInvoke, ISyncMgrRegister, ISyncMgrEnumItems, and ISyncMgrSynchronizeCallback, but inserting your code between mobsync and the offline file handlers would be tricky.

  3. Jim Robbins says:

    If I disabled the logon/logoff automatic syncs using group policy, how come they were still occurring?

    What I want is to have synchronization run automatically at logon, logoff, whenever a network connection is made, and every n minutes where n is configurable. What I don’t want is to get an error if the server is not available during one of these automatic checks. I don’t expect the server to be available a substantial portion of the time, since several of the people using the laptops will work from home.

    Since I couldn’t get rid if the "server unavailable" error messages I decided to turn off all the automatic syncing and write a few scripts that will handle the synchronization. However, to do that I need a way to tell Windows to start a quick sync or a full sync.

    What would you suggest? If I can’t get this to work without recurring error messages then I’ll have to disable offline files and use another program (like SecondCopy or FileBack PC) to handle synchronizing the user’s files. I’d rather not do that because:

    1) It costs more money.

    2) I don’t get the benefit of automatically encrypted offline files and instead have to deal with NTFS file level encryption.

    3) I don’t get to use Volume Shadow Copy.

    Thanks for your help. I’m glad I googled this blog (or its comment-frozen predecessor).

    Jim

  4. Sadly "How do I make the error dialog go away" has a blank answer in the internal FAQ – another reason why it hasn’t been released yet…

    Have you tried "mobsync /logon" and "mobsync /logoff" after re-enabling all the options that you disabled in #2 and #3? Those flags definitely work for some people, and I’m still wondering whether mobsync is doing the right thing but you’re not seeing any effects because offline file syncing is turned off.

    (And yes, the fact that offline file synchronization behavior is controlled by two separate sets of settings, one for mobsync in general and another for offline files in particular, is a real source of confusion for everyone. I only knew about it when I read the FAQ!)

    Hopefully they’ll unfreeze old comments on blogs.msdn.com in a future release.

  5. Jim Robbins says:

    I tried mobsync /logon and mobsync /logoff after removing the group policy objects. It looked liked mobsync was defaulting back to running at logon and logoff. After doing this running mobsync /logon brought up the mobsync windows where I could press the Synchronize button to sync. It did not sync automatically. Running mobsync /logoff didn’t do anything. Running a full sync manually by right-clicking My Documents and selecting Synchronize also failed to remove a deleted file from the Offline Cache.

    As I mentioned, I am running Windows XP SP2. Have there been any changes to the offline files or mobsync.exe in SP2 that might be causing these problems?

    Also, is there any documentation available for the COM synchronization interfaces? I’m about at the point where I’ll just call the COM interfaces myself and avoid mobsync altogether. I’m still hoping I can get away with using offline files instead of a third-party sync tool.

    Jim

  6. Yup, I just tried mobsync /logon and /logoff with SP2, and I’m seeing the same behavior as you, i.e. nothing useful anymore.

    The only documentation I can find is for mobsync itself, at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/syncmgr/syncmgr/isyncmgrsynchronize.asp

  7. Jim Robbins says:

    Is there anyone I can contact to get help with mobsync.exe and Windows XP SP2? I know that Microsoft has locked down some of the DCOM interfaces in SP2; could this be causing the mobsync.exe problems?

    If you know a developer on the mobsync team could you get some first-hand information about what is happening and if there is a work-around?

    Thanks,

    Jim

  8. There are multiple questions here. I’ll try to answer each one in turn.

    First, to prevent confusion, none of the behaviors described here should be affected by the account type being "limited user". While maintenance of the feature itself (i.e. enabling/disabling, controlling cache encryption, setting the size limit for auto-cached files) does require the user to be a member of the local Administrators account alias, synchronization behavior is controlled based on the user’s access to files as computed on the remote share while online. Whether that user is a local administrator, local user, or a local limited user should make no difference. Jim, if you have evidence to the contrary, please let us know.

    Jim Robbins asked:

    I’ve found the following issues with Offline Shares on Windows XP SP2 when running as a Limited User:

    1) If the server is not available when logging on or off then an error message is displayed. This is a real problem for users on laptops who will be connected to their home networks a substantial number of times when they log on or off.

    [Brian Aust]

    There is no way to suppress this error message. When the feature was first designed, the feedback we received was that users expect content to be synchronized and wanted to know why if synchronization does not occur. Therefore, we were very liberal with reporting issues to the user. This is one of those scenarios.

    2) Going to Programs->Accessories->Synchronize or running mobsync.exe brings up the "Items to Synchronize" dialog. There are options to synchronize items when logging on or logging off, or on a schedule. However, all the user options for Offline Files have supposedly been disabled using group policy. It appears that mobsync.exe is not honoring that policy.

    [Brian Aust]

    I understand that the relationship between Sync Manager and Offline Files is not clear. As Jonathan reported, Sync Manager is a general component that provides the scheduling and launching of synchronization activities and the reporting of progress from those activities. It is the plugged-in components (handlers) that perform the actual synchronization of information. The "sync at logon" and "sync at logoff" options in the Sync Manager UI apply to ALL registered sync handlers. This includes things like Offline Web Pages. There is no Offline Files policy to disable sync at logon or sync at logoff. You will find two Offline Files settings titled "sync all files when logging on" and "sync all files before logging off". The key word in these setting titles is "ALL". If the setting is not enabled, the default sync behavior is designed to be very fast. For logon, the default behavior only synchronizes local changes to the server. The idea is that you’re transitioning to an online view so that synchronizing remote changes to the local cache is not necessary. At logoff, the default behavior only fills in the remainder of sparsely-cached files in the local cache. These are files partially read while online from SMB shares marked for auto-caching. The rationale is that if you’re transitioning offline, you expect to be able to access things that you were just using while online. Enabling those two "sync all files" settings expands the logon and logoff sync behavior to include a two-way sync as well as pinning new files found inside of pinned folders on the server. "Pinning" is the term used to describe a file that is cached and protected from automatic eviction. A file selected with the "Make Available Offline" option is "pinned". The form of sync with those two options not enabled is what we refer to as "quick" sync while the form with those options enabled is known as "full" sync. A full sync is expensive but the resulting equilibrium between the local cache and the server is what some customers expect from all synchronizations. I sense that Jim was under the impression that not enabling these settings would disable sync at logon and logoff respectively for Offline Files.

    There is one behavioral connection between these settings. If Sync Manager’s "sync at logon" setting is disabled and you enable the Offline Files setting "sync all files when logging on", we will automatically enable Sync Manager’s "sync at logon" setting. The same is true for the "sync at logoff"/"sync all files before logging off" pair of settings. The one rub here is that if you disable the Offline Files setting, the corresponding Sync Manager setting is not disabled. This is because of the one-to-many relationship between Sync Manager and its handlers. When you disable the Offline Files setting, the Offline Files feature is unable to determine if other Sync Manager handlers have requested sync at logon as well. Unfortunately, Sync Manager doesn’t persist the "sync at logon"/"sync at logoff" settings on a per-handler basis. This is applicable to Jim’s question #3 below.

    Note that if Offline Files is configured for a "quick" sync and there is nothing to synchronize (i.e. no local changes at logon and no sparse files at logoff), Offline Files will enumerate zero items to Sync Manager so that the Sync Manager progress UI may not appear (other handlers having content to sync will cause it to appear). Sync Manager is designed to avoid bothering the user whenever possible. If no sync handlers report items needing synchronization, the Sync Manager progress UI does not appear at logon or logoff.

    3) Even after turning off automatic syncronization and balloon reminders using both the local computer and the domain group policy I was still getting the syncronization attempts at log on and log off. I had to turn off those options using mobsync as well.

    [BrianAu]

    Correct. I believe my response to #2 above addresses this.

    4) The /logon and /logoff switches to mobsync.exe don’t work. The server copy of the files aren’t updated. If I click the Offline Files tray icon and click OK at the "Offline Files Status" dialog then the server copy is updated.

    [Brian Aust]

    Do you recall if you performed this synchronization while offline (but connected)? If so, there is a known issue with synchronizing while offline. If the client is offline when performing the synchronization, it will require two synchronizations to synchronize changes from the server to the client; one synchronization to first synchronize changes in the local cache and place the server to the "online" state and one synchronization to then synchronize changes on the server to the local cache. This is due to a two-phased form of synchronization used by Offline Files. It sounds like this may be what you encountered. We are aware of this issue and are investigating potential solutions.

    There has been no change to the processing of "mobsync /logon" or "mobsync /logoff".

    5) The whole reason for these observations it that I don’t want to get error messages because the server is unavailable. Instead what I was hoping to do is write a script that will would use WMI to verify that there is a network connection, check for the existence of the server, and then try to sync the files. However, if the mobsync command line options aren’t working then I can’t automatically sync. Does anyone know what API the mobsync program is calling?

    [BrianAu]

    Does what I wrote in response to question #2 above help with this issue? Is it possible that you have the two "sync all files" settings not enabled, there is nothing to synchronize, and the Sync Manager progress UI is not being displayed?

  9. Jim Robbins says:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to concerns.

    In response to your comments:

    1) I would like to put in a request to add an override to the default error reporting behavior. All of our users will be given laptops, and many will work from home several days a week. They will frequently be logging on and off while connected to their local networks but not to the corporate network. I would like these error messages to not occur when they reflect an obvious, and common, occurrence.

    2) Thank you for further explaining the group policy settings. Can you add these details to the logon and logoff group policy descriptions?

    4) I tried mobsync /logon and mobsync /logoff multiple times without getting any dialog boxes or updated files. There was no difference in the network files on the server between running mobsync the first time and subsequent times. Right-clicking My Documents and selecting Synchronize successfully updates the network copy of the files.

    5) As I mentioned in (4), while I was testing this I made sure that I always changed a local file to be sure that a sync event would fire.

    Are there any examples of controlling the offline files synchronization from a script or program? I looked at the documentation that Jonathan mentioned on MSDN and it was pretty scanty. I’m assuming that I could call ISyncMgrSynchronizeInvoke::UpdateAll() but it would do a full update (including offline web items) instead of a quick sync. I didn’t see a way to get a list of offline files that have changed so that I could sync them.

    Thanks,

    Jim

  10. Brian Aust [MS] says:

    Thanks for the responses Jim. I will pass the feature requests on to our team’s program manager for consideration.

    There is no public programmability model for Offline Files in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. We are building a comprehensive API for Longhorn.

    I am unable to reproduce your issue with using mobsync /logon and mobsync /logoff on XPSP2. I’ve set up tests using both privileged and non-privileged user accounts. In both cases mobsync /logon and mobsync /logoff work as expected. Please contact me at brianau@microsoft.com and we’ll see what we can do to solve this.

  11. I’ve been using Offline Files on my work laptop for several months now and it’s been a tremendous improvement over my previous modes of operation (mostly, manually copying files back and forth to the backed-up server).

    But one bug is killing me: I modify a file while offline. Then, working from home, I connect to my wireless network. A synchronization is automatically initiated, but fails since I can’t reach the office server from here. Offline Files Status now shows my status as "Offline" and "Need to synchronize, 1 file(s) modified offline." So far, so good. Then I open a VPN connection (w/ Nortel "Contivity VPN Client") to the office. No automatic synchronization seems to occur. A few minutes later, I check Offline Files Status, and it still shows "Need to synchronize, 1 file(s) modified offline" but Status is now "Online"! If I open the file I had modified, I get the version from the server, and it’s conflict time, even though I’ve only touched the file from a single machine.

    Any suggestions?

    Darrell

  12. Mark Martin says:

    I’ve got Windows policies configured to redirect My Documents to the user’s network home folder. This works great for laptops, and I see that you’ve discussed this in some detail here.

    The problem I have is that if the "owner" of a laptop changes, I cannot Windows to stop synchronizing the previous owner’s home folder on the laptop. Similarly, if another user logs onto the laptop as a one time occurrance, that one-time user’s home folder is permanently synchronized on the laptop.

    I’ve tried deleting all off-line files, and various other things to try to reset this, but to no avail.

    This presents some potential security issues as well as slows down the sync process.

    My question is… How do I stop a previous user’s files from synchronizing?

  13. Hi Mark – this is because CSC uses a per-machine cache, instead of a per-user cache (CSC is a cache of a filesystem, and since there is only one filesystem, there is only one CSC cache per computer). Did you try deleting the profiles of the other users from the laptop? You might also need to reset the cache: you can do this by creating the DWORD registry key HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionNetCacheFormatDatabase. When you reboot it will reinitialize the cache (deleting all content), and then delete the key.

  14. Bob says:

    I have been having a weird problem at a client site, but I have also seen the same problem on my home network. Occasionally (several times a day), the synchronizatino manager will popup and tell me that I am now working offline — for no apparent reason. Usually the computer will reconnect quite quickly — but it is irritating and a bit unsettling for other users. What could be causing this? One system is XP clients with SBS 2003; the other is also XP clients but with ‘regular’ Windows Server 2003.

    Thanks for any ideas!

  15. Bob – that’s probably because the synchronization manager lost contact with the server. As you said, it normally fixes itself, because after a disconnect it retries every 10 minutes. You can disable the popups using Group Policy: run "gpedit.msc", then look under Computer Configuration->Administrative Templates->Network->Offline Files and User Configuration->Administrative Templates->Network->Offline Files. I’d try to find the causes of the disconnect first, though.

  16. Asmund Herikstad says:

    I have a problem which I can’t seem to find the answer to anywhere on the web. I have changed my laptop from being a domain member to a workgroup computer. I had to create new users, but the old ones are still there.

    My problem is that all my files from my previous user are not in the My Documents directory of that user, but in the offline files folder. When I try to copy them from there to my new user I get an error message saying I haven’t got access to the files and to check that the disk isn’t read-only or that the file is being used (I am trying to copy not move).

    I figured I could just rejoin the domain and log on as the old user, but company which had the server doesn’t exist anymore and I haven’t got a server to set up myself.

    Obviously I the files are on the hard drive, since there are lots of files in the CSC folder and they all show up fine (as icons) in my offline files folder. I’m just not able to open or copy them anywhere.

    Is there anything I could do other than going through every file in the CSC folder and try to rename them to something useful 😛 (don’t think they’re encrypted)?

    Thanks,

    Asmund

  17. Mike says:

    I’m trying to recover offline files….

    A W2K Professional computer’s My Documents was set to sync with the user’s filserver. The computer has been disconnected from the network for some time, and the user continued to save to the My Documents folder. When the computer was reconnected to a different network, the My Documents folder was emptied. The easy answer is to sync to the original network; however, the network account has been removed and the files that are needed were created after the last successful sync.

    I was able to recover the raw contents of the winntcsc directory, but the files did not reappear in the My Documents folder. Is there any way to put the contents of the csc directory back into a useable state?

    Thanks for any assistance!

    Mike

  18. Hi Asmund – in this situation I think the csccmd utility is your best friend. There’s a "moveshare" option that should let you associate the offline files with another (online) share, at which point you’ll be able to recover them.

  19. Hi Mike – when you say that the My Documents folder was emptied, was that done by the user? If so, then I don’t know how to reinsert the previous contents of the CSC file directory and have them be recognized as offline files. Otherwise, csccmd may be your best bet.

    Microsoft product support also have an updated version of cscutil with an /extract option to copy all files out of the offline cache. I don’t think there’s a firm date yet for its wider release, so you’ll have to call them if this is an urgent case (and let’s face it, aren’t ALL cases urgent? :->)

  20. Stefan says:

    I have offline folders set up for my roaming users on their laptops. The problem is that the offline file program syncs for each user who logs on to the computer. So if two users has logged on to a computer next time the first user logs on again the computer tries to sync the second users files. Is there some way to prevent this?

    The second problem is that all laptop users are "local admin" on their pc’s (has to be this way) which seams to give them read access to all files in the file cache so that if two users log on to the same lap top and then open up the "offline files" folder they can se and open the other users files…

    This has also happened to me as an administrator that files has synced while doing administrative tasks on a pc and later I have found that my files are synced and also in some cases the users has complained to the error message they get when logging on and the pc tries to sync my files.

    Shouldn’t this feature have been user based and not computer based???

    /Stefan

  21. Gah. Stupid web interface just ate my long response. Ok, short version.

    The cache is per-computer rather than per-user because it’s a mirror of a network filesystem, of which there is only one.

    The extra synchronization effects you’re seeing are because the algorithm that decides which files to synchronize does so based on access rights of the current user. This means that it may have to traverse directories that are currently inaccessible, in order to reach files that technically are accessible. The effect is exacerbated in the current version because it doesn’t cache directory permissions.

    All local admins can read the CSC cache. If you’re sharing a laptop between users who are all local admins and don’t trust each other then, you could use use per-user encryption, or just ensure that the cache is cleared out before switching users.

  22. Jon says:

    csccmd /moveshare worked on clearly up the issues on XP with the recent server change, but 2000 clients still have the issue. deleted the files, reboot, still have the problem. is there a csccmd for 2000?

  23. Yep, there should be a csccmd for Windows 2000 as well. You may have to talk to Microsoft PSS to get the latest-and-greatest version.

  24. Jimmy Aronsson says:

    Hi, I’m having a real strange problem with my offline files. I have redirected "My Documents" to the server and with the group policy making that folder available offline. The problem is when the user is working in offline mode and saves a powerpoint file that is larger then 10 MB and tries to save it in My Documents powerpoint hangs and stops responding. But if you choose to save the file locally on the D: disk instead it works like a charm. Does anybody have any idea what the problem could be?

  25. Have you tried the simple stuff first, i.e. you’ve still got >10MB of space left in your offline files space on that machine?

  26. Andrew MacKay says:

    That registry hack has just made my day, thank you very much.

  27. Gary Grimbley says:

    Major headache occuring here. Moved the only copy of a users files from a folder which was local into a folder on the server. This folder was available offline for the user. Watched the files go across (in progress window) and synchronised it once finished. My problem is that although the user has all of the folder structure she originally had all of the files within the folders have disappeared with the exception of files either at the top level of the folder or within the first layer of folders. Anything deeper and they are gone. Spent 2 days going through files that had been deleted out of the CSC folder and the files in the current CSC folders. Recovered a lot of files from the deleted ones but virtually none of the new stuff. Anyone got any ideas where they might have gone or better still how to get them back? Any help would be greatly appriciated as this user is one of the ones you don’t want to mess up, if you know what I mean!

  28. John Hazelden says:

    I’m having problems synching over a VPN. Whenever the users are connected via VPN through either 3g or their own home internet connections the server appears offline and they cannot get access to any of the files on it (only their own offline versions of the My Documents folder).

    Help?

  29. Bill Schablowsky says:

    There is a hotfix available from Microsoft that will fix the problem with not being able to save large powerpoints while offline with Windows XP. You will need to call Microsoft and refer to the hot fix for KB870593. The case number SRX050720601405 refers to the problem and the solution.

  30. After my two previous posts on debugging offline files, I’ve had four requests via comments and email,…

  31. I think I’ve found a cure (maybe?) to offline files on a laptop trying to sync multiple user’s offline files on logon/logoff of different users.

    My situation are domain (limited/standard) users with laptops. Cached Credentials for last logon. User logs in syncs and logs out and goes on their merry way. The laptops interchange between different users sometimes so I didn’t like the users have to attempt a sync to another persons folders.

    Example normal settings:

    User1 logs in and his H: drive (home directory on server) is sync’d.

    User1 logs out and his H: drive is sync’d

    User2 logs in and his H: drive is sync’d as well as User1’s (try’s atleast)

    User2 logs out and his H: drive is sync’d as well as User1’s (try’s atleast)

    Example my fix:

    User1 logs in and his H: drive (home directory on server) is sync’d.

    User1 logs out and his H: drive is sync’d

    User2 logs in and his H: drive is sync’d

    User2 logs out and his H: drive is sync’d

    There is no cross syncing. The settings below also allow a local administrator to log in and not see any syncing (don’t ask me why). The settings allow an local admin to remove/delete files from the Cache.

    All applied via the same GPO

    — Computer Settings —

    Network/Offline Files

    Policy Setting

    Allow or Disallow use of the Offline Files feature Enabled

    Encrypt the Offline Files cache Enabled

    Prevent use of Offline Files folder Enabled

    Remove ‘Make Available Offline’ Enabled

    Subfolders always available offline Enabled

    Synchronize all offline files before logging off Disabled

    Synchronize all offline files when logging on Disabled

    Turn off reminder balloons Enabled

    — User Settings —

    Network/Offline Files

    Action on server disconnect Enabled

    Action: Work offline

    Do not automatically make redirected folders available offline Enabled

    Prevent use of Offline Files folder Enabled

    Remove ‘Make Available Offline’ Enabled

    Synchronize all offline files before logging off Enabled

    Synchronize all offline files when logging on Enabled

    Synchronize offline files before suspend Enabled

    Type of synchronization to perform when suspending: Action: Quick

    Turn off reminder balloons Enabled

    Let me know if this works for anyone else.

  32. Don’t mean to double post – but I think the fix as weird as it sounds was making sure:

    The computer logon/logoff syncs were set to "disable" and not to "not configured", while the user syncs logn/logoff were set "enable"

  33. Scott Miller says:

    I have a question regarding offline files. We have 2003 environment with XP SP2 laptops. These "outside" users have a GPO set to redirect "my docs" to home network file and thus set for offline files. My question is can I have the laptop pull from the "offline files" instead of pullling from the network share. They connect in various ways from high speed to dial up and using Avaya VPN software. Of course in the latter the time to open a file when connected to the network is unacceptable. Also file synchronization errors on any .mdb file. Has any else ran across this error and is there a fix?

  34. Fabiano Cattaneo says:

    I’m having the same problem described in post "Tuesday, September 14, 2004 9:26 AM by Bob", can anybody point out what king of investigation should I do? Clearing the cache and re-establishing the offline files didn’t do…

  35. Robert Haight says:

    Is there a way to prevent the UI from running telling me what it is syncing? I’m comfortable that the process is working and I really don’t need to see what it is doing.

  36. Joe says:

    I am having a similar problem to Mark Martin. At one point I had my My Documents folder redirected to my file server. I right clicked the My Documents folder on my desktop and changed the target to a share on my file server. Then I set the folders up to be offline. This worked great. But then I decommissioned the file server and forgot to change the offline folder setting. No matter what I try I cannot get the old server out of my synchronization settings. The My Documents folder has been changed to the new server and I’ve even set those to be offline. For some reason the old My Documents folder still shows up in the synchronization settings. I tried clearing the cache, deleting all files, disabling and reenabling offline folders and the format database reg key. Does anyone have any more ideas? Even when I logon as another user it tries to synchronize with the old file server.

  37. Cheapy says:

    Had a intresting support call today and could do with some advice.

    – user sync his networked private drive from file server,

    – he worked offline and created files folders presentation for the board,

    – User came back in to the office connected to network, DID NOT sync,

    – Instead, unchecked offline files (and i guess exited offline files client),

    – He realised he had made a mistake, select network drive to be made offline,

    – He then ran sync, and now can not find the files he had created offline (either offline or on the server).

    The result makes total sense (to me, not the user) and would be as designed, the contents of the %systemroot%CSC folder all seem to have todays date except for a couple tmp an 1K files in the root.

    Question: when unchecking make offline, does this purge the CSC folder contents – or would we have been able to recover had user not resync’ed

    Question: If we were extremely lucky and found some files on the disk using an undelete app, would it be possible to view or make the recovered files available to the user.

  38. Johan Stuurman says:

    Thanks for this thread, I was faced with a notebook being brought in after we changed our domain and the user had about 1.2 Gb of autocad files. Only with the use of csccmd version 1.1 we ware able to restore the files. Great tool!

    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;884739

  39. Ross says:

    We also have a few problems with offline files, am very much hoping some of these will be fixed with Vista!

    PS. Sorry for the long thread, I hadn’t realised how many comments I had waiting to be said 🙂

    – Desktop icons disappearing –

    Not every time, and not on every computer, but very annoying for the users affected. The icons re-appear when desktop is refreshed, but loose position. Still trying to find the cause for this.

    – Major problems with Outlook –

    If using a roaming application data folder, Outlook has all kinds of problems with offline files. We get warnings that ‘files of this type cannot be made available offline’ but are unable to de-select the files. No way to fix this that I know of, and without roaming application data folders our user profiles exceed 30Mb.

    – Lack of control over synchronisation –

    We do not want Offline files to synchronise when a wireless network is connected (it’s not going to be on the corporate network), but we do want it to synchronise automatically when connected to the LAN or a VPN. These settings need much finer control, ideally with the option to specify settings per connection, not just per connection type. Instead of manual control, more intelligent synchronisation may be an option – eg: only sync if server available and on a fast connection…

    – No access to online files without sync –

    For truly mobile users we have mobile phone connections. We do not *ever* want to synchronise over this connection, but would like the ability to connect to the network to get access to files if we absolutely have to. An ability to work online without synchronising would be very useful in some circumstances.

    – Per user synchronisation –

    I hope this will be included with the next release, if only to save bandwidth on slow or expensive connections.

    – More visibility –

    Even our computer literate users do not really understand the offline files icon in the system tray. I’d like to see a ‘working offline’ message clearly displayed on the screen, possibly similar to the safe mode prompt (but on desktop, below apps), possibly in explorer or the file open/save dialogs. When a network is connected the computer should clearly ask the user if they want to start working online and/or save their changes back to the network. Don’t use the word ‘synchronize’ – none of the users I have here really understand what it means.

    – Suggestion –

    Have an area in the system tray for messages & status info. Have a dialog appear when a network is connected asking whether to go online & save changes. If user goes online, make computer online immediately and put a progress bar into that status area. Failing a designated status area, just have a semi transparent progress bar…

    – Use local cache when on slow connection –

    This has been mentioned above by Scott Miller. In our case, we have corporate templates for word. When laptops are on a slow connection word can take 60secs to load or close, despite having all the templates cached locally… You’ve got this local cache, use it for the performance gains.

    – MDB files –

    Ok, they can’t be made available offline. Warn us once for each file, but give us an option to never display the warning again. When offline, display a greyed out icon for the file so users are aware there’s a file there but it’s not available while offline. (Could be done with a dummy file type & association to an internal warning program).

  40. hans hinnekint says:

    Hello,

    I would like to make the sync of offline folders ‘Site Aware’. I mean that when a user is not connected at his home-site he should be working offline.

    Probably this should be performed through a logon-script as this functinality seems to be missing.

    The issue is that whenever the server that stores the data is reachable the system thinks it should be on-line which might not always be a good idea (slow WAN links, Nortel VPN, …)

    Any ideas are apprecieated.

    Kind regards,

    Hans Hinnekint

    hans.hinnekint@bekaert.com

  41. Catching up here: with SP2 (or SP1 plus a hotfix for WinSE bug 37222) you can do the following:

    1. The user needs to set the slowlink policy.

    2. The user also needs to create a new registry key “GoOfflineOnSlowLink”, under “HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionNetCache” and set it to 1.

    3. Reboot the machine to apply the new settings.

    4. When the user logs in, if the connection to a server is below the slow link setting, CSC will automatically transition offline against that server.

  42. Robert – there’s no way to disable the syncing UI as far as I know

  43. Joe, if you’ve changed the server that you’re syncing against, you’ll have to use the "moveshare" option to the csccmd tool. That will let you change what the cache thinks it’s syncing against

  44. Hans – check out the solution I just posted for Scott Miller. You can set a user to always be "offline" unless the link speed is above a certain value

  45. Hans Hinnekint says:

    Hello Jonathan,

    Initially I also believed this was a good idea, but, as this link-speed relies on the speed reported by the local connection, this does not work over WAN connection where local speeds are 100mbit, additionally, Nortel VPN installs a network driver that always reports 10mbit.

    Probably we need a tool that performs these actions:

    – At Startup retreive home-site of the user (from AD?)

    – Listen to events of Network Changes

    – At Network Change to on-line Check if new site is home-site, if so -> pass event to Windows Sync, if not -> drop event (= no passing to Windows Sync)

    – At Network Change to off-line, Check if old site was home-site, if so -> pass event to Windows Sync, if not -> drop event (= no passing to Windows Sync)

    Additional functionality like temporary disabling of the tool, manual set of off-line or on-line might be added.

    Probably we will have to program it as such a tool does not exist (to my knowledge).

    Kind regards,

    Hans Hinnekint

  46. Ross says:

    Hans, wouldn’t it be more useful if MS could update the link speed detection to work on a per-server basis?

    When logging on or off, Offline Files could quickly check the actual speed to each server & synchronise if there’s a fast enough link.

    That kind of solution would also be useful on distributed networks.

    Ross

  47. Hans – with SP2 (or SP1 plus a hotfix for WinSE bug 37222), it will use the actual throughput of the link to determine whether to go online or offline, instead of just the link speed. So this *should* fix your problems with WAN links always reporting as 100 mbit, and VPN links always reporting as 10 mbit.

  48. Kurt says:

    I am having the same issues that Ross indicated above .. but can’t seem to find any reason or solution to the below problem.

    – Desktop icons disappearing –

    Not every time, and not on every computer, but very annoying for the users affected. The icons re-appear when desktop is refreshed, but loose position. Still trying to find the cause for this.

    – Quick Launch –

    I have also noticed that the quick launch toolbar is disappearing too…

    Any one have a solution to these problems 🙁

  49. Hans Hinnekint says:

    Hello Jonathan, where did you find this info? It contradicts my experience, as I’m using SP2.

    I’m not sure how this would actually work and might use this info to troubleshoot.

    Kind regards,

    Hans

  50. Hans – it’s from the internal FAQ. Have you turned on the slowlink policy? That may be required for it to kick in: it’s kind of unclear from the FAQ:

    1. The user needs to set the slowlink policy.

    2. The user also needs to create a new registry key “GoOfflineOnSlowLink”, under “HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionNetCache” and set it to 1.

    3. Reboot the machine to apply the new settings.

    4. When the user logs in, if the connection to a server is below the slow link setting, CSC will automatically transition offline against that server.

  51. Hans Hinnekint says:

    Hello Jonathan,

    I ‘m currently trying this out, but have some mixed results.

    Yesterday, I was connected to a LAN with 1gb connectivity and a 2mbit WAN link to the main site where my data is stored.

    It I used a high setting in the local policy(50000 to indicate a 5mbit threshold) that worked fine -> always offline. I adjusted the threshold gradually down to 2560 and my system switched between on- and offline at random. The WAN link showed 1mbit free at all times. In order for this to work consistent, with 100 sites with different WAN speeds, this will become a major headache to tune it in order to have a global user experience.

    I will continue to experiment with the settings, but have my doubts.

    Kind regards,

    Hans Hinnekint

  52. Charlie Tarna says:

    I recently moved offices within my company. I now direct my Offline Files to synch with a dirrerent server. My problem is that my laptop still tries to synch with the old server (and I get that pesky error message- but I’ve read here that there is no way around that part).

    How do I remove the old synch path?

    Thanks.

    Charlie T

    CTarna@CTarna.com

  53. Charlie – I think that’s exactly the same problem that I answered in the first point of the blog post (the answer to Robert Lewis).

  54. Ross says:

    Kurt, I’ve no solution to either problem, but our workaround for some time has been a freeware utility called "Work Desktop Icons" that saves and restores the icon positions.

    It’s a bodge but at least users can get their desktop settings back now.

    The program’s produced by A2Soft (http://www.elagin.ru), but isn’t available for download anymore from their site. The licence says freeware however, so I’ve made it available for download from my personal site: http://www.averysilly.com/wdi1_setup.exe

    Ross

  55. Clint says:

    This isn’t entirely on topic, but this post has meandered quite a bit. It ultimately helped point me to a resolution for my issue, so I will share what I found here.

    Users were getting a sync failure with varying error messages (‘Using last known good configuration’, ‘file not found’, and my favorite being- ‘More Details Available’ –but I couldn’t find where!).

    So far all errors have been solved by following this MS Support article (I believe this is a shortcut to the registry flag previously mentioned.):

    How to Restart the Offline Files Cache/Database

    http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=230738

    I had to do it twice on one workstation, but then all was fine.

  56. David says:

    I have come across the "unremovable synch request" syndrome a couple times now, and though mildly laborious and arguably over-kill, I have a sure-fire solution.

    Scenario:

    Share is moved or was on a server or share that no longer exists. You’ve (allegedly) deleted the offline files, but it refuses to stop the synch requests.

    Last Resort Solution:

    Turn off Offline Folders, and delete the CSC folder under C:/WINDOWS (may require a reboot to allow the folder to be deleted). Once the folder is gone, turn Offline Folders back on. The folder will be recreated from scratch, and will no longer synch the missing share.

  57. PaulH says:

    Hi Guys,

    I have been using offline files for quite some time, very succesfully, but a week or two ago I started getting a problem, and I do not seem to get it resolved.

    I mark an individual file as "available offline", and the file gets sync’d. The file is now available in the "offline files folder" shortcut on the desktop. All OK up to here.

    The problem comes when I save the file. If I make any changes to the file, and save it, it’s no longer available offline. If I am fast enough, it’s still in the folder on the desktop, but then it shows status "temporarily available offline", and not"always available offline" like it should.

    I do not get the same problem opening the file without making any changes, ie that works fine.

    Any ideas will be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    PaulH

  58. Ross says:

    Ok, think I’ve found out when the desktop icons are lost.

    It seems that this happens whenever you synchronise after changes have been made to the desktop icons while working offline.

    Two users have now reported that they had connected back to the network and logged on with all their icons present. It was only after synchronisation completed that their icons disappeared. Both users had saved work to their desktop while offline.

    Right-clicking on the desktop and choosing refresh brings the icons back but they have lost all their positions.

    Now we know what’s happening it’s just a case of educating our users and installing that free utility. Really hoping this is sorted for Vista though.

    I wonder if the cause could be something as simple as offline files not caching the hidden desktop.ini file?

    Ross

  59. Douglas Davis says:

    I have a user that uses offline folders that has developed a strange problem. When he connect to the network and logs on the sincronization starts slowly but eventually completes. At this point if he tries to open the My Computer icon it sits there and searches as if explorer is hung, the drives appear eventually but some of the files and folders that are supposed to be visibal in the network drive are not there. He can close the window no problem but then the alert that the network drive is no longer available for syncronization shows up and the status is offline. He clicks on the alert and clicks the OK button and another sincronization occurs but it is very quick. He can then open My Computer and all the drives show up including the files and folders that were not visible when the previous explorer window was opne. This only seems to happen when the computer is restarted or power on, if he logs off and back on the file sinc happen fine and there is no problem seeing all of the network resources.

    I f anyone has experienced this type of issue plese let me know. Thanks

    Doug

  60. Vytas says:

    I have been trying to figure out Offline files issues, but no luck so far. The part of the problem is as John Hazelden reported, but nobody aswered that for him. So I reposting his paragraph:

    I’m having problems synching over a VPN. Whenever the users are connected via VPN through either 3g or their own home internet connections the server appears offline and they cannot get access to any of the files on it (only their own offline versions of the My Documents folder).

    Another part, that sometimes, when users boot up at home using their Wireless or WAN, offline files are just gone… Nothing in Offline file folder, bunch of vague error about not accessing company servers.

    I’ll tell ya, what a nighmare… Offline files been around for more than 3 year, and still so buggy…

    Any help is appreciated…

  61. Vytas says:

    And I spent lots of hours troubleshooting Offline files, this site is the most useful.

    Our laptops XP SP2, and servers 2003 SP1.

    I tried all policies under Computer and User, Starting with "Configure Slow link speed", finishing with "Non-default server disconnect actions". If somebody could shed some light on those issues I will greatly appreciate…

  62. Matt says:

    That reg key listed far above just saved the day! Thank you for this long, complicated blog!! =)

  63. Wolfgang says:

    Hi All,

    we have the same problems with offline folders.

    This problem occurs because Windows XP does not correctly calculate the network throughput over a TCP/IP connection.

    It concerns WIN XP SP1 and SP2.

    I will be fixed with SP3 or you made a request by Microsoft.

    See the following link

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/900387/en-us

    After the installed the problem was fixed.

    Wolfgang

  64. Warren says:

    Hi All,

    I have XP SP2 clients on a W2k3 network. The laptop users have offline files enabled through Group Policy and it works fine. The PC users use a different policy which has offline files turned off. Some of the PC’s get a sync message at logoff, some don’t. On those that do, the shared desktop icons pushed out through Group Policy also appear as available offline. The GPO also prohibits C drive access for these users.

    So, it appears to PC users that they have files available offline, when they shouldn’t. Any ideas woul be greatly appreciated.

  65. Vytas says:

    Hey Warren, that fix does not help the situation, when user connects with VPN, but Offline files do not care about that. Slow link group policy is enabled and set to 480.

    Personnaly I think Offline files need more work from Microsoft…

  66. Ross says:

    Hi Warren,

    I’d suspect it’s a problem with your policies rather than with offline files. Could it be possible that you’ve got some group policy settings configured per user instead of per computer? Failing that, use gpresult to see if you’ve got the wrong policies applying to the machines.

    Have you got a specific policy turning off offline files completely? If so, make sure this is higher in the list than the laptop policy.

    Ros

  67. mb says:

    Hi, I am having a problem with offline files and xp. For some reason, xp will not recognize when the machine connects to a vpn or dial-up connection, even though I have all the settings set for "When I Logon" to synch automatically. Has anyone else had this problem? If I synch manually, it works fine, but it refuses to synch automatically upon connection to my vpn or dial-up. BTW, the vpn is a windows vpn connection, not cisco or anything like that.

    thanks

  68. Looking at this download makes me wonder if companies realize that we’re getting a heck of a lot…

  69. Me says:

    Both registry and csccmd have solved my problems, thank you.