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Chapter 3.  Configuring System Software ... > Make files available when offline

3.7. Make files available when offline

Windows 95 introduced a feature called the Briefcase that provided the ability to synchronize a working copy of a file in the Briefcase with a copy on another computer such as a network server or the user's desktop system. Windows 2000 expands on and simplifies the concept with the introduction of offline files. You can use offline files to work with shared network resources when you're not connected to the network. For example, you might make a set of documents available offline while you're out of town on a business trip, allowing you to continue working on the documents while you're away. When you get back you synchronize the files with the server.

Sidebar 3. A deeper understanding of offline files

In essence, offline files work by copying the desired files from the network server to a hidden folder on your local system. Although Windows 2000 knows the files are not stored on the server, it continues to treat them that way as far as the user is concerned. You still browse for the files as you would when connected to the network (getting to them through My Network Places, for example). When the network server becomes available again, Windows 2000 synchronizes the files with the network copy, either automatically or manually through user direction depending on how you have offline folders configured).

Folders and files you share on your Windows 2000 computer also can be used offline by others on the network unless you specifically disable offline use through the sharing properties for the folder.

In order to use offline files you must have the permissions necessary to access them in their primary location on the file server. In other words, if you don't have the necessary permissions to access the files at the server, you can't cache them for use locally. Systems that support Server Message Block (SMB) file and printer sharing can share resources for offline use. This includes Windows 2000, Windows 9x, and Windows NT, but excludes Novell NetWare. Of these only Windows 2000 offers the ability to control offline access on the server side where the folder is shared, enabling you to prevent offline caching of the folder or its contents. There is no mechanism with the other SMB-capable platforms to prevent shared folders from being cached for offline use.



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