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Sharing Your Data (part 3) - Accessing Shared Folders Offline & Working Offline and Syncing

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4. Accessing Shared Folders Offline

An offline folder is a shared folder designated for use offline. Offline folders provide an easy way for you to use files on shared folders regardless of where you are. You use offline folders as follows:

  1. When you are using a laptop computer to access a shared folder over the network, you might want to make the shared folder available for offline use.

  2. You then designate the files that your computer should store so that you can use them while disconnected from the network.

  3. When you later connect to the network, your computer automatically synchronizes any changes you make back to the shared folder.

NOTE

As with just about every feature discussed in this book, it is important to remember that your office administrators can enable and disable offline folders. If they have disabled this or another feature, they probably did so for a good reason. Offline folders are sometimes disabled to prevent problems with multiple users changing the same documents, or to protect potentially sensitive documents.

You can configure a shared folder so that it is available for offline use by completing the following steps:

  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the folder you want to use offline and then select Properties.

  2. In the Properties dialog box, select the Sharing tab. The details on this tab indicate whether the folder is shared already. The folder must be shared to configure it for offline use.

  3. Click Advanced Sharing.

  4. In the Advanced Sharing dialog box, click Caching.

  5. In the Offline Settings dialog box, shown in Figure 10, select one of the following options:


    Only the files and programs that users specify are available offline

    With this option, only files you specifically designated will be available for offline use.


    All files and programs that users open from the shared folder are automatically available offline

    With this option, all files in the selected folder will be available for offline use. Note that the Optimize for Performance option is only used with Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows.

  6. Click OK three times.

Figure 10. Configuring offline file settings


You designate a network file or folder as available offline by right-clicking it and selecting Always Available Offline. Once you’ve ensured that a folder is available for offline use, you can specify the files and folders to use offline.

To include an offline folder in a library, complete the following steps:

  1. Click Start and then click Computer. This opens the Computer console.

  2. Under Network Location, right-click the shared location, select Include In Library and then select the appropriate library, such as Documents.

5. Working Offline and Syncing

Whenever your computer is not connected to the local area network (LAN), you are considered to be working offline. When you are working offline, you can access only network folders that are cached on your computer for offline use. When you reconnect to the network, Windows 7 automatically will synchronize any changes you’ve made to the files while offline.

Windows 7 includes many enhancements for offline files, including change-only syncing and unavailable file and folder ghosting. Windows 7 uses change-only syncing to provide fast synchronization at the file block level. Thus, rather than syncing all file blocks in a file, Windows 7 syncs only the changed blocks in a file. Windows 7 creates ghosted entries of other files and folders to preserve the online context whenever you make only part of a folder available offline. When you are not connected to a remote location, you’ll see ghost entries for online items as well as normal entries for offline items.

Sometimes there may be conflicts between changes you’ve made to files and changes other people have made to files. You can manage conflicts and the synchronization process in the Sync Center, shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. Checking the sync status


In the Sync Center, you’ll see a sync partnership for every shared folder that has locally cached contents. Work with the Sync Center as follows:

  1. Click Start→All Programs→Accessories and then click Sync Center.

  2. In the Sync Center, currently defined sync partnerships are listed according to name, status, progress, conflict count, error count, and category.

  3. To work with offline files, double-click the Offline Files entry. You can now manage syncing of offline files using the following techniques:

    • To manually sync all offline files and folders, click Sync All. If you’ve selected a sync partnership, you’ll need to deselect it by Control-clicking it or clicking in an unused area of the list.

    • To manually sync a specific network share, click the sync partnership that you want to work with and then click Sync.

    • To check for errors, click “View sync results” under Tasks. You can use the sync details to determine when syncing was started, stopped, or completed, and to determine whether there are problems with the synchronization configuration.

Synchronization conflicts can occur if you make changes to a file offline that is updated online by someone else. You can view and resolve synchronization conflicts by following these steps:

  1. In the Sync Center, click “View sync conflicts” under Tasks.

  2. Any existing conflicts are listed in the main pane. Double-click a conflict you want to resolve.

  3. You can now:

    • Click the version you want to keep. To keep the local version and overwrite the network version, click the version listed as On This Computer. To keep the network version and overwrite the local version, click the version listed as being on the shared network location.

    • Click Keep Both Versions to write the local version to the shared network location with a new filename. The new filename will be the same as the old filename, but with a numeric suffix, indicating the version increment.

NOTE

Devices you’ve used with Windows Media Player can have sync partnerships with your computer as well. You manage those sync partnerships in Windows Media Player .

In Windows 7, offline files are synchronized automatically. When you connect to a network with a latency of more than 80 milliseconds, Windows 7 uses background synchronization rather than foreground synchronization. You can control when synchronization occurs in Sync Center. In Sync Center, click Offline Files and then click Schedule. Select the folders to sync according to a schedule and then click Next. You’ll then be able to configure syncing at a scheduled time or when an event occurs. For example, you can synchronize folders everyday at 3:00 p.m. or every time you log on to your computer.

Other -----------------
- Sharing Your Data (part 2) - Configuring Standard Folder Sharing & Accessing Shared Data
- Controlling Access to Your Data (part 4) - Inherited Permissions & Effective Permissions
- Controlling Access to Your Data (part 3) - Ownership Permissions
- Controlling Access to Your Data (part 2) - Special Permissions
- Controlling Access to Your Data (part 1) - Basic Permissions
- Securing and Sharing Your Data : Securing Your Files
- Fixing and Tweaking Your Network : Managing Network Connections
- Fixing and Tweaking Your Network : Changing Network Settings
- Fixing and Tweaking Your Network : Maximizing Network Performance
- Troubleshooting Network Problems (part 2) - Troubleshooting TCP/IP Problems
 
 
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