MCTS 70-680: Offline files

Uploaded by itfreetraining on 04.12.2011

Hello, and welcome back to your free Windows 7 training course for the 70-680 exam. In
this video I will look at offline files.
Offline files has been in Windows since Windows XP. Since then it has continued to improve.
The basic functionally of offline files is to keep a cached copy of network files on
the local computer. This either allows the user to access the files when the server is
not available or when the user chooses to work offline.
Offline files works in four different modes which determine if the network version of
the file or the local cache file is used. The first mode is online mode which is the
default mode. When offline files is used in this mode file writes are sent to the server. Read
requested are performed from the local cache to improve performance.
All the rest of the modes involve switching from online mode to anther mode and then back
again as required. The second mode is auto offline mode. This is done when the server
or the connection is lost or there are network problems. Once in auto offline mode, read
and writes are directed to the offline copy. Offline files will check every two minutes
to see if the connection comes back up. If it does offline files will switch back to
the server copy.
The third mode is manual offline mode. This mode is selected by the user. When the user
selects manual offline mode the computer will start using the offline copy. The offline
copy will be used until the user decides to switch back to online mode.
The last mode is slow link mode. This mode is selected when network performance degrades
below a specified threshold. When this occurs the computer will start using the local cache
for reads and writes. If the latency of the link goes below the threshold the computer
will switch back to online mode. Let’s have a look at how to use offline files in
Windows 7.
To demonstrate offline files, I will first open Windows Explorer and go to a network
drive that I have already mapped to a server. If you want to make the whole share available
offline, right click the share and select always available offline. In some cases you
may want to do this, but on large shares that are dynamic in nature, that is files are being
added and removed all the time, making the entire share available offline will increase
the number of files that need to be synchronized and increases the amount of disk space required
to hold the offline files.
To make a single folder available offline, right click it and then select the option
always available offline. Notice now that the folder is available offline and there
is a set of little green arrows added to the folder to indicate this folder is available
If I go into the folder templates, if I only want to make certain files available offline
I can individually select them and select always available offline. Currently offline
files is in online mode. In online mode writes will be directed to the server and read will
be performed from the local cache where possible.
Notice that I have the option at the top to switch off line folders into offline mode
by selecting work offline. In this particular case I won’t select this option but instead
I will disconnect my file server from the network. Notice that when I do this, Windows
7 will automatically switch to auto offline mode. In auto offline mode, all reads and
writes will be performed on the local version of the file.
Notice that the folders that I did not make available offline have crosses on them. The
folder “templates” does not have a green set of arrows on it or a cross. This is because
if I go into the folder some files are available offline and some are not. Because the files
in this folder are mixed, Windows can’t display an icon on this folder. The individual
files however in the folder will have an icon on them to tell the user if they are available
offline or not.
If I go into docs folder this is available offline. Note that I can create new files
and also delete files in this folder. I can also modify files like the prices file here.
In this file I will make Microsoft Training free.
This change will be replicated to the server once the server comes back on line. But what
happens if a change is made to the same file by anther user before this occurs. To demonstrate
this, I will change to my Windows server 2008 R2 computer and open the file from the server.
I will change the price file on the server and this time make the price for Microsoft
Training 1000 dollars rather then free.
If I change back to my Windows 7 computer, I now have the same file in the local cache
and the server that have different data. This will cause a replication conflict when the
server comes back online. To demonstrate this, I will now re connect the server to the network.
Notice down the bottom that the offline status is not connected. Windows 7 will check to
see if the connection has come back up every 2 minutes. I will skip forward in the video
so we don’t have to wait.
Now that the server is back on line, I will select the icon sync center from the sys tray
to open the sync center. The sync center is responsible for syncing changes with offline
files, but can also be used to sync files on your mobile devices.
At present, Windows 7 will not perform a file sync automatically because none have been
set up. To set up a sync relationship, right click offline files and select the schedule
for offline files. This will start the offline files sync schedule wizard. Once I select
which shares that I want to sync, the next option I will get is to sync at a scheduled
time or when an event occurs.
If you want to make sure the sync operations are performed outside hours you should set
up a scheduled time. In most cases you will want to select when an event occurs. When
you select this option you have a few different options. You can select additional options
by selecting the option more options.
The additional options are related mostly to power consumption. These include options
like if you will perform sync when the computer is not running off batteries. Also options
include to wake the computer up to perform a sync and to stop a sync if the computer
is not idle.
If I go back to the standard options, in most environments you will want to select the option
when I log on to my computer. Usually changes are made on laptops when out and about, when
you come back to the office and log back on, this is when you want to make sure that these
changes are captured.
Microsoft does not have an option to sync the computer when the network connection becomes
available. To get around this, you can select the options “I lock Windows” and “I
unlock Windows”. In most organization the computer will lock automatically if it has
been idle for a certain amount of time. If the user comes back say from lunch and the
network was down for a little bit, synchronization will automatically be trigged by the computer
being locked and unlocked. File synchronization are performed in the back ground so should
not cause too much disruption to the user. Otherwise the user will need to perform a
manual synchronization when there is a network outage or simple lock and unlock their work
On the last screen of the wizard you can set a name of the schedule. In this case I will
accept the default. If you want to manually perform a synchronization of offline files,
right click offline files and select sync offline files. Notice that when I perform
this I get a conflict. This is because the prices file was changed in two different locations
at the same time.
To resolve sync conflicts, select conflicts to show all the conflicts that were found
in the last sync. When I select the file, I first get the option to keep the local version,
the next option is to keep the version on the server and the last option is to keep
both versions. Since we would like to keep our training free, I will select the first
option. The version on the laptop will now be copied to the server so the local offline
cache version and the server version will both have the same price of free.
If I now select view sync partnerships, notice I also have additional options like, sync
results. This will show the results of all the syncs that have been performed on this
computer. The last option, sync setup, will allow you to configure a new sync
For additional offline file options, select the option mange offline files from the left
hand side. The button at the top allows you to disable offline files. This will remove
offline files from the computer including the local cached copy.
The next button will open the sync center. This is where we just were. The last option
will view which files are in your local cache. This can be useful when trouble shooting off
line files. On the next tab you options for disk usage. If you want to change the default
values select the option change limits. You would only need to do with if you had a really
large share that you wanted to make available offline. If this was the case, I would consider
only making part of the share available off line. This not only saves you disk space but
will also decrease the time taken to perform synchronizations.
The button delete temporary files will remove the temporary files that are used with offline
files. These include changed files that may not have been synchronized yet. If you need
to remove these files I would first perform a sync to make sure that all the files have
been updated.
On the next tab, you have the option to encrypt offline files. When this option is selected,
all local cached offline files will be encrypted using EFS. This is done is so if your laptop
is stolen or lost, no one will be able to read the offline files on the hard disk.
The last tab allows you to configure how often Windows will check for a slow link. The default
is 5 minutes. There are not too many options here, in fact one of the option is grey out
and can’t be configured. In order to do configure these settings, this brings use
to our next topic, configuring offline files with group policy.
The group policy settings for offline files can be found under computer configuration,
administrative templates, network and off line files. There are only a couple of group
policy settings that I would like to go through as most of them are pretty self-explanation.
To do this, I will switch to my Windows 7 computer. From the start menu, run
gpedit.msc to open the local group policy editor. Once I expand down to offline files, the
first setting that I want to look at is “exclude files from being cached”.
When working in one of the offline modes, this policy when set will prevent the user
from creating files offline with these extensions. If the user wants to create these files they
will have to do it when they are connected to the server.
The next setting, “Files not cached”, determines which file types will not be made
available offline. This last setting only stops the file from being created when using
the offline copy. This setting will prevent files with these extensions being copied to
the offline cache. For example, if enter in the extension type of mdb, this will prevent
MS access databases from being available offline. Database files like these should
not be made available offline as databases by their nature are changing all the time.
Offline files are not able to replicate changes in databases files. It is best to only have
database files available online to ensure they are changed in only the one location.
By default Windows 7 will not cache the files showen below. MDB is already included so
I don’t need to configure it. All these files are database related files. If you need
these files to be available offline, you will need to configure this setting to over
ride the default settings.
The next group policy setting that I want to look at is “configure slow link mode”.
This setting allows you to customize when slow link mode is used on different file servers
and shares. For example, if I add in fs1, I can configure offline files to be used when
the latency of the connection goes over 50. I can also configure through put setting or
a combination of both. For example, I could configure slow link mode to operate on DC1
when the latency is above 50 and the thoughput is less then 10000.
These setting give you a lot of customization, but if you just want a more general setting,
you can configure the next setting “configure slow link-speed”. This setting allows you
to set a value when slow link mode will be used. For example, the default is 64kbits
per second. This value will be used regardless of where the share is stored.
That’s it for offline files. In the next video I will look at transparent caching.
This is a new feature in Windows 7 that gives you some of the features of offline files.
Transparent caching is aimed more at improving performance of the computer while still connected
to the network via a high speed link.
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