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Offline folder problems

Posted on 2005-05-10
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While MS offline folders has some outstanding features - I'm having fits with it as it pertains to our notebook users. I have our notebook users configured in their own OU with GPO's set to redirect their My Documents to their home folder and then mandate the home folder be available offline. It's set so that they only sync when logging on and I've set the policy so that certain file types (.pst, mdb, lnk) files are not available offline. All works as expected with three problems;

1. Sync when logging off is not checked yet it still happens to some clients
2. It seems to want to do a complete sync even though it's been done and all files indicate they've been syncronised.
3. The file types excluded still toss an error when sync'ing. I want to do away with the error completely.

I've been working on this for some time and have not been able to come up with an answer. My main reason for doing this in the first place is that most users are too stupid to keep their files backed up to their home folder on their own so  it has to be a matter of policy. Otherwise I cop it when they lose something and it hasn't been made "properly" redundant. But that's another topic isn't it?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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Question by:kaesm
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by:ckratsch
ID: 13968505
1. Is this configured in your policy?  If so, this appears to be a problem with GPO application.  Use Group Policy Management Console to get Resultant Set of Policy on the target user/computer.  http://www.petri.co.il/download_gpmc.htm

2. The offline files cache will briefly examine each offline file for changes when synchronizing.  If there are a large number of files, it can take a little time to burn through that list, and may appear as though there is a complete synch taking place.

3. I'm guessing you configured this policy in Comp Config > Admin Templates > Network > Offline Files > Files Not Cached.  If not, do so.  Also, if the parent folder (My Documents) is configured to be available offline, and a "file not cached" file type is in that folder (.pst, .mdb, .lnk), you're going to get that error message (even though it's not really an error).  It's better to not store such files in a folder that is made available offline, and store them in a different place on the network instead.

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by:kaesm
ID: 13975273
Well you answered my questions very well. I am not surprised at 2 and 3. You are correct - I have configured the "Files not cached" policy as stated and that's exactly what's happening. I was just hoping that turning that on would stop the attempt of those file types completely. They may have to live with the errors since having their archive.pst file located in their 'offline/redirected' My Documents is the only way to keep these guys from losing the file. I checked the RSoP on one of the notebooks and all appears as I have configured it. I did make one change to the GPO as far as sync when logging off is concerned. Other than that - I have this set up as stated and this is just the way it works.
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ckratsch earned 2000 total points
ID: 13976948
By default, the system never caches certain files types, even when the Files Not Cached policy is not configured:
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/Windows/2000/server/reskit/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/Windows/2000/server/reskit/en-us/gp/60.asp

As far as PST files are concerned, there are a few ways to handle that, keeping the file on the network so it's safe from user error, and also configuring offline files.  The way you have it configured now, the PST file is not available offline, and you get error messages telling you so all the time.

1.  Put the PST file on the network in a different location than the redirected and offline My Documents folder.  In this configuration, the PST will not be available offline, and you won't see any error messages.
2.  Allow PST files to be made available offline, and place them in the synchronized My Documents folder.
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/Windows/2000/server/reskit/en-us/Default.asp?url=/resources/documentation/Windows/2000/server/reskit/en-us/gp/ExcludeExtensionsEx.asp
3.  Place the PST on the local workstation and configure a batch file to copy the PST file to the network at some interval.  (I only mention this because I have seen other people do this; I do not think this is the best idea at all.)

If it was me, I would do #2.  The PST file is only used by the one user, so no one is going to be making modifications to the network file while the user is making modifications to the offline copy.

I'm still thinking about your issue with synch when logging off.  If it was me, again, I would configure things so that there would be a synch when logging off.  Otherwise, the cached copy on the local machine won't be updated after a long day's work.  Think of this: a laptop user has been working all day, shuts the machine down and starts packing up to go home.  Oh wait, he has to check one more thing, so he turns the laptop back on, but doesn't put it in the docking station.  "Where did all of today's work go?"  It's on the network, hasn't been cached back to the workstation yet, but the user doesn't know any better, so comes flying down the hall yelling at you.  That's why I would synch offline files at logoff.
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by:kaesm
ID: 14159289
Well you are a genius! It had never occured to me to just blank out the GPO that defines the file types that are not allowed offline inorder to allow any or all. That's what it took and now the client doesn't go buggy when it tries to sync a PST file. Thanks for the info!!
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