You can access files stored in a network folder even when that network folder is unavailable. You can do this by making the folder available offline. When you make a network folder available offline, Windows copies all the files from that folder to your computer. These copies of network files that are stored on your computer are called offline files. Windows automatically uses your offline files any time the network files are not available. This way you can keep working on the network files without interruption, even if you lose your connection to the network folder. When you connect to the network folder again, Windows will automatically sync the files on your computer with the files in the network folder.

For more information, see Understanding offline files.

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To make files and folders available offline

To be able to work with a file offline, you first need to make it available offline.

  1. Locate the network file or folder that you want to make available offline.

  2. Right-click the file or folder, and then click Always Available Offline.

    Picture of the Always Available Offline command
    The Always Available Offline command

    The next time you try to access this file or folder, you will be able to open it even if the network version is unavailable.

Notes

  • To confirm that the file or folder is now available offline, right-click the file or folder again, and make sure that a check mark appears next to Always Available Offline.

  • If you don't want a network file or folder to be available offline any longer, right-click the file or folder, and then click Always Available Offline to clear the check mark next to the command.

To enable offline files

Enable offline files if you want to work with files that are in a network folder. A copy of the file on your hard drive will be synchronized with the network copy as soon as you are back at work or you regain your network connection.

  1. Open Offline Files by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Offline Files.

  2. Click the General tab, and then click Enable Offline Files.

To work offline

Sometimes you might want to work with the offline files stored on your computer rather than the files stored on the network. This can be a good idea if you have a slow network connection, for example.

  1. Open the network folder that contains the files you have made available offline, and then, on the toolbar, click Work offline. This button appears only if you have already made this folder available offline.

  2. When you are finished working with the files offline and want to begin working with the files in the network folder again, click Work online on the toolbar. This will sync any changes you have made offline with the files on the network.

To find out whether you're working offline

Offline files turn on automatically if you lose your network connection. A copy of your file is copied to your computer, and once your network connection is re-established, the two copies will be synchronized. To find out if you're working offline, do the following.

  1. Open the network folder that contains the file you are working on.

  2. Check the Details pane at the bottom of the window for the status. If the status is offline, you are working with a copy of the file on your computer. If the status in online, you are working with the file on the network.

To view all your offline files

If you work with offline files in many different folders, you may want to view all of them without opening each folder individually. Here's how to view all your offline files at once.

  1. Open Offline Files by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Offline Files.

  2. Click the General tab, and then click View your offline files.

To sync all of your offline files immediately

Windows syncs your offline files for you automatically, so that when a network file is changed, the offline copy stored on your computer is also updated, and vice versa. But Windows does not sync your files continuously. Sometimes it is helpful to sync your offline files right away, such as if you are about to disconnect from a network and want to be sure you have the latest versions of files stored on the network.

  1. Open Sync Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, and then clicking Sync Center.

  2. Click the Offline Files sync partnership, and then, on the toolbar, click Sync.

Tip

  • If you only want to sync the contents of a specific folder, open the folder that contains the files that you want to sync, and then, on the toolbar, click Sync. To sync an individual file, right-click the file, and then click Sync.