Windows 7 / Getting Started

Modes of Operation in Offline Files

Offline Files in Windows Vista and later versions has four modes of operation:

  • Online mode This is the default mode of operation and provides the user with normal access to files and folders stored on network shares and DFS scopes. In online mode, any changes made to files or folders are applied first to the network server and then to the local cache. Reads, however, are satisfied from the cache, thus improving the user experience.
  • Auto offline mode If Offline Files detects a network error during a file operation with an SMB shared folder or a DFS scope, Offline Files automatically transitions the network share to auto offline mode. In this mode, file operations are performed against the local cache. Certain file operations cannot be performed in auto offline mode, however, such as accessing previous versions of files. When Offline Files is in auto offline mode, by default it automatically tries to reconnect to the network share every two minutes. If the reconnection is successful, Offline Files transitions back to online mode. Note that users also cannot initiate a manual sync when in auto offline mode.
  • Manual offline mode When a user has a particular network share open in Windows Explorer, the user can force a transition from online mode to manual offline mode for that share by clicking Work Offline on the command bar of Windows Explorer. Available file operations in manual offline mode are the same as when in auto offline mode. Manual offline mode persists across restarting the computer, and the user has the options of manually syncing an offline item by clicking Sync on the command bar of Windows Explorer and of forcing a transition to online mode by clicking Work Online on the command bar of Windows Explorer. If the user forces synchronization of an offline item, the item remains offline.
  • Slow-link mode If the Configure Slow-Link Mode policy setting has been enabled and applied to the user's computer using Group Policy, a network share will transition automatically to slow-link mode when Offline Files is in online mode but network performance degrades below the specified threshold. For more information, see the section titled "Managing Offline Files Using Group Policy" later in this tutorial.

Note Beginning with Windows Vista SP1, you can now rename and delete offline files when in offline mode. However, this feature must first be enabled in the registry. See for more information.

Figure below summarizes the conditions under which transitions occur between different modes.

How transitions occur between different modes

Table below summarizes where various file operations are satisfied (on the local cache or network server) for each mode.

Table Where File Operations Are Satisfied for Each Mode

ModeOpen/Create FileRead from FileWrite to FileBrowse Folder
OnlineServerCache (if in sync with server)Server then cacheServer
Auto OfflineCachecachecachecache
Manual OfflineCachecachecachecache

Table below summarizes the availability of synchronization (manual or automatic) for each mode.

Table Availability of Synchronization for Each Mode

ModeAutomatic SynchronizationManual Synchronization
Auto OnlineNot AvailableNot Available
Manual OfflineNot AvailableAvailable
Slow-linkNot AvailableAvailable
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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Users and User Data
  2. Understanding User Profiles in Windows 7
  3. Types of User Profiles
  4. User Profile Namespace
  5. User Profile Namespace in Windows XP
  6. User Profile Namespace in Windows Vista and Windows 7
  7. Application Compatibility Issue
  8. Disabling Known Folders
  9. Windows 7 Understanding Libraries
  10. Working with Libraries
  11. Including Indexed Folders in a Library
  12. Adding Nonindexed Remote Locations to a Library
  13. Creating Additional Libraries
  14. Managing Libraries
  15. Implementing Corporate Roaming
  16. Understanding Roaming User Profiles and Folder Redirection
  17. Understanding Roaming User Profiles in Earlier Versions of Windows
  18. Understanding Folder Redirection in Earlier Versions of Windows
  19. Enhancements to Roaming User Profiles and Folder Redirection Previously Introduced in Windows Vista
  20. Additional Enhancements to Roaming User Profiles and Folder Redirection Introduced in Windows 7
  21. Improved First Logon Performance With Folder Redirection
  22. Implementing Folder Redirection
  23. Configuring the Redirection Method
  24. Configuring Target Folder Location
  25. Configuring Redirection Options
  26. Configuring Policy Removal Options
  27. Folder Redirection and Sync Center
  28. Considerations for Mixed Environments
  29. Additional Group Policy Settings for Folder Redirection
  30. Troubleshooting Folder Redirection
  31. Implementing Roaming User Profiles
  32. Creating a Default Network Profile
  33. Configuring a User Account to Use a Roaming Profile
  34. Implementing Mandatory Profiles
  35. Implementing Super-Mandatory Profiles
  36. Managing User Profiles Using Group Policy
  37. Working with Offline Files
  38. Enhancements to Offline Files Introduced Previously in Windows Vista
  39. Additional Enhancements to Offline Files Introduced in Windows 7
  40. Understanding Offline File Sync
  41. Modes of Operation in Offline Files
  42. Managing Offline Files
  43. Managing Offline Files Using Windows Explorer
  44. Managing Offline Files Using the Offline Files Control Panel
  45. Managing Offline Files Using Sync Center
  46. Configuring Offline Files on the Server
  47. Managing Offline Files Using Group Policy
  48. Offline Files Policy Settings Introduced in Windows Vista
  49. Additional Offline Files Policy Settings for Windows 7