Why does "Enable offline files" uncheck itself after a reboot?


After my two previous posts on debugging offline files, I’ve had four requests via comments and email, all saying pretty much the same thing: “why do offline files stop working after I restart my computer?” The most visible symptom is that the “Enable offline files” checkbox gets cleared after a reboot. I passed this request along to the team responsible for offline files, aka client-side caching, and here’s an explanation from Brian Aust.


These are the checks that are made on CSC startup:

  1. CSC is not enabled on Home Edition
  2. CSC is not enabled when terminal server is configured for multiple concurrent users
  3. CSC is not enabled when either the user’s (admin user) preference or Group Policy says it should be disabled
  4. CSC is not enabled when either of the following REG_DWORD registry values is set to zero:
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\NetCache\Enabled
    HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\ Windows\NetCache\Enabled

ONLY if all those conditions are met will the checkbox stay enabled over a reboot — so if you’re suffering from this problem, those are the four things to check!


Update: for additional things to check, see the comments below, and this later blog post.


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

Comments (14)

  1. Dangali pointed out another condition that should be made more explicit: offline files is not enabled if you have fast user switching turned on. It’s strictly a one user, one box kind of thing!

  2. Joyce Hettenbach says:

    Sorry, I pass all of the tests, but offlines files continue to "uncheck" themselves after reboot.

    1. CSC is not enabled on Home Edition – Using Windows XP Pro

    2. CSC is not enabled when terminal server is configured for multiple concurrent users – We do not use Terminal Services and the service is disabled.

    3. CSC is not enabled when either the user’s (admin user) preference or Group Policy says it should be disabled – no preference or policy in place.

    4. CSC is not enabled when either of the following REG_DWORD registry values is set to zero:

    HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionNetCacheEnabled – set to 1

    HKLMSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftWindowsNetCacheEnabled – does not exist

    5. Fast user switching is turned off.

    If I create the regsitry key HKLMSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftWindowsNetCacheEnabled and set it to 1 then the offline files check box becomes grayed out so i can’t even check it. If I have it checked then enable the policy it becomes grayed out but on reboot the check still disappears, but it remains grayed out. I have to remove the registry key HKLMSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftWindowsNetCacheEnabled=1 so that I can check the box.

    What is unchecking that darn box???

    What does putting a check in the "enable offlines files" box trigger on the computer… a registyr key, ini file, what does it do????

  3. Hi Joyce – I should have said that those are just the user-visible conditions that can disable offline files. There are other failure checks in the code that aren’t exposed in the UI but can still prevent it from starting up. I’ve passed on your case (and a couple of others) to the CSC team, and I’ll let you know if anything happens. Maybe we can develop a little mini-FAQ of other things to check?

    To explain your other symptom: if the Enabled key is present in HKLMSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftWindowsNetCache, the CSC startup code assumes that Group Policy is in effect, so it won’t allow the user to alter the setting through the UI. That’s why the box is grayed out.

  4. Ryan P says:

    I have a problem on a Win XP SP1 machine that a user is trying to utilize the offline file capabilities. After he has selected the files to work off line with and then logs off and goes home he encounters a problem. He connects back to work via dial up which runs a log script that maps his drives. He tries to browse the network drive that the files were on and he sees that multiple folders are missing on the mapped drive. When he comes back to work the files are available, but his logon script gives him troubles when it tries to connect his H: drive. The script prompts for a user name and password. He can enter his credentials and it seems ok after that. Has anybody seen this particular problem and can you point me to a fix for it??

    thanks..

  5. Brian Cuneo says:

    I have this exact same problem with 3 XP laptops (Dell, Toshiba, Sony). The only thing in common is SP2 and Norton AV Corporate Edition.

    I thought that it was related to a service that was disabled, but I ruled that out. I’d sure like to see a fix for this or some sort of work around. Thanks for your help.

  6. Brian – Thanks for the problem report. The more examples the product team have of when this doesn’t work, the better.

  7. Ryan – If your user has reconnected to the network but not synchronized, they should only be seeing the files and folders they marked for offline use.

  8. Lanny Hinton says:

    I’m seeing the same symptoms on an XP sp2 laptop. I can manually setup offline files. Reboot and it is disabled again. I have this working well on several other computers. This one user is all I’ve seen this issue with. I’m really in need of a work around or patch or just an answer. Thanks.

  9. P. Nath says:

    I am having the same problem with an XP SP2 laptop. Enable offline files becomes unchecked on reboot. Any developments?

  10. Roger Wilson says:

    I have a Toshiba M200 Tablet PC and had enabled the Toshiba Tablet Access Code Logon Utility. This utility replaces the Welcome screen. When I did this the Fast User Switching was still enabled which cased Offline Files to be unchecked on startup.

    I’ve disabled the Tablet Access Code Logon Utility and disabled the Fast User Switching and everything is working now.

    Thanks for this excellent article – it helped me fix my problem.

    Roger Wilson (email: firstname dot lastname at ronaco.com)

  11. ericb says:

    I have these same symptoms on a XP SP2 workstation. The "enable offline files" box unchecks itself on reboot. FUS is disabled (greyed out). The machine is on a P2P network with no domain controller. I’ve enabled the CAS (Ctrl-Alt-Del) for logon. The symptoms do not replicate on other W2KPro and XP SP1 machines. Help!

  12. Eric – Try the solution from this later blog post: http://blogs.msdn.com/jonathanh/archive/2005/01/16/354049.aspx

    It includes contributions from a couple of readers who found they needed extra steps to solve their problems. So far I haven’t had feedback from anyone who this *hasn’t* worked for. Let me know either way!

  13. Marsha says:

    Hi everyone…I’ve tried all of the great ideas posted and I’m still without a solution. I’ve checked all reg keys and group policy and everything is set correctly, yet the check box still unchecks after a reboot on an HP laptop running Windows xp pro sp2. Has anyone run across anything else that can be tried? Please help, its the CIO’s laptop and he refuses to have a rebuild and I’m out of options.

    Thanks,Marsha

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