Offline Files Chat (July 10, 2007)

Offline Files Chat (July 10, 2007)

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Chat Topic: Offline Files Chat
Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Thank you for joining today’s chat with the Offline Files in Windows Vista team.  We will begin the chat in about 5 minutes due to the lateness of the email reminders.  In the meantime, feel free to start queuing up questions!

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Welcome to today’s chat with the Offline Files in Windows Vista team. We will try to answer as many questions as we can today. Participants should type their questions, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” Those posts will go into a private queue, from which our experts will draft answers and repost questions in the upper window with their answers. (To confirm: if you selected the “Ask the experts” check box when you posted, you don’t need to resubmit.            

 

At this time, I’ll let the experts introduce themselves.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
My name is Brian Aust.  I am a developer on Offline Files and have been involved with the feature since its original introduction in Windows 2000.  My area of expertise is the user mode side of Offline Files including the service, sync engine, API, user interface, and integration with the Windows Shell.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
I am Sriram Srinivasan. I am one of the developers who worked on this Vista version of Offline files. My area of expertise is kernel mode driver and usermode sync framework.

 



Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Good afternoon/evening, everyone!  My name is Wendy and I’ll be your host for today’s chat.  Exits are located over the wing and at the rear of the plane.  We’ll begin our beverage service shortly.

Jill Zoeller [MSFT] (Expert):
Hi, I'm Jill Zoeller, and up til a couple weeks ago I was the Community Program Manager for the Offline Files team (and many others).

anjlic_MSFT (Expert):
My name is Anjli Chaudhry and I am a Program Manager on Offline Files.

Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Hi, I am Navjot Virk. I am the Lead Program Manager for Offline Files and remote protocols. I have been working on offline files for last 6 years. I am happy to be here to answer any questions you have.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
For those just joining us, today’s chat is with the Offline Files in Windows Vista team.  To post a question, please type your question, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” That way, we can track which questions we still need to answer.


Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Sometimes I see mobsync.exe running, although I disabled the offline files. Why? a bug? How can I disable Sync Center?
A: As you state, mobsync.exe is a process related to Sync Center.  It is essentially a central "service" process for Sync Center to coordinate the operation of the various handlers plugged into it's architecture.  It's not a true service but it acts logically similar to one in this context.  As far as I know there is no way to disable Sync Center.  It was created and maintained by a team different than the one involved in this chat.  If you want to use Offline Files, Sync Center is required. 



Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: whats the difference between offline folders in xp and vista
A: There are many differences between offline files in XP and Vista. Some of the main differences are -

Seamless Offline to Online Transition

Better Sync Algorithm & Delta Sync

Support for Large Files like .pst

Per-user Encryption

Better Detection and Configuration of Slow-link mode

Consistent Client/Server Namespace (Ghosting)

Per-share connection state

Scriptable API Support

 

For more details please refer to the technet article -

http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/bb819260-0fdc-4003-bc23-04beac2108bd1033.mspx?mfr=true



Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
To post a question, please type your question, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.”

Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: I'd like to know if there are any offline files hotfixes in the works and if they will be included with SP1 or if they need to be requested through premiere support.
A: There are some hotfixes in work for offline files that you can to request through normal support channels.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: Are there any plans to allow administrators to control where the offline files cache is stored (via group policy or other means)?  ie. storing it on a second partition instead of the system drive
A: You can use CacheLocation registry key in Vista to control cache location. Please refer to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/937475/en-us for more information.

anjlic_MSFT (Expert):
Q: I'm having problems disabling offline files altogether via Group Policy. Am I on the right chat to get tips for that?
A: Yes, you are on the right chat. Can you describe the exact problem ?

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: In the folders that I have setup for offline, I often see LOTS of .tmp files (i.e. {0C121D08-7953-45AA-88E5-026320D5F26C}.tmp).  What are these and how do I stop them from reoccurring??
A: Do you get access denied during sync? There is a known issue causing this problem if share is access is set to MODIFY instead of FULL_CONTROL. This has been fixed and please contact support to get the fix.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: In Windows Vista are Offline files all synced behind the scenes automaticlaly when a network connection is made back on the home network? In XP we had a terrible time with files taking too long to sync, lots of conflicts and files not syncing at all.
A: The sync engine in Offline Files has been completely redesigned and rewritten.  Without investigating specific issues you had with Windows XP it is difficult to know for sure if those issues will no longer occur with Vista clients.  Independent changes and resulting conflicts are fundamental behaviors when working offline and are not necessarily specific to a particular implementation of Offline Files.  I do believe you'll find that the experience in Vista is signficantly improved.  While the time to move bits over the network is independent of Offline Files, the Vista sync engine is significantly faster at determining what needs to be synchronized.  In addition, you will no longer experience the "close open files" dialog upon connection.  Sync Conflicts are now reported through Sync Center's conflicts folder and will not interrupt the sync operation.

Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: In Vista offline files has conflict resolution improved?  In XP we constantly ran into coflicts where the user had the option of choosing which file to keep, even though one was clearly the old one as seen by the date/time stamp.  the user would choose
A: Offline files will show conflicts only if the file was modified both on the client and the server when offline. However, once a conflict is detected, by default the user is asked which version they would like to keep and that conflict dialog will show the timestamps for both the versions. The user also has the choice to keep both the versions. Alternately, if the sync is invoked through a script you can specify that sync should always pick the newer version.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: whats the difference between offline folders in xp and vista
A: There are many differences between offline files in XP and Vista. Some of the main differences are -

Seamless Offline to Online Transition

Better Sync Algorithm & Delta Sync

Support for Large Files like .pst

Per-user Encryption

Better Detection and Configuration of Slow-link mode

Consistent Client/Server Namespace (Ghosting)

Per-share connection state

Scriptable API Support

 

For more details please refer to the technet article -

http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/bb819260-0fdc-4003-bc23-04beac2108bd1033.mspx?mfr=true

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: I am having problems synchronizing.  I keep getting conflicts that say access denied and also I have a whole bunch of tmp files that keep showing up in my share.  Any idea what is going on?
A: There is a known issue causing this problem if share is access is set to MODIFY instead of FULL_CONTROL. This has been fixed and please contact support to get the fix.



Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: Will the hotfixes that are in the works for offline files be included in SP1 or will they be separate downloads?
A: Currently the hotfixes are only available through the support channels.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Are there any plans to create commandlets for PowerShell that will allow administrators to access the offline files cache?
A: Offline Files supports scripting via a WMI provider.  There are no specific plans to integrate with Power Shell beyond what support is automatically provided through WMI.  The provider's object model is documented on MSDN.

http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb530663.aspx



Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
For those just joining us, today’s chat is with the Offline Files in Windows Vista team.  To post a question, please type your question, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” That way, we can track which questions we still need to answer.

Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: Will files be able to be synced with windows live folders when its released thru the exsisting vista interface or thru other add on seperate working apps?
A: Windows live folders in Vista are not synced through sync center.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Allow or Disallow use of the Offline Files Feature: Disabled -- Phohibit user configuration of Offline Files: Enabled
A: Not sure what the question is here but that policy is not applicable to Vista clients.  Please see the applicability statement for this policy in gpedit.msc.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: I have the control set at full control and I still am having the tmp file and access denied issues.  I was wondering if this is what it is talking about in KB935663
A: If you have share access set at full control then the KB935663 dose not apply. Is your setup a DFS namespace? I would try the fix in KB article to check if issue is addressed. If not then we will have to debug this further.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: OK, so how do I disable offline files to all of my vista PCs.  Is there a GPO for that?
A: Yes, as in Windows 2000 and XP there is a policy for that.  In fact, it is the same policy. 

Computer Config -> Admin Templates -> Network -> Offline Files -> Allow or disallow use of the Offline Files feature.

Note that to disable Offline Files in Vista we're stopping the Offline Files service (CSCService), stopping the CSC driver, and setting their start types to "disabled".  Because of open file handles and remote file system state a restart of the client is often necessary after the policy is applied. 

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
For those just joining us, today’s chat is with the Offline Files in Windows Vista team.  To post a question, please type your question, select the “Ask the experts” check box, and click “Send.” That way, we can track which questions we still need to answer.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Is anyone out there using the new "Work offline" button in the Explorer command bar?  This is a new feature in response to many requests for it in the Windows XP product.  Just wanted to gauge how much it is being used and if people find it useful.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Brian: I don't use 'work offline' because it knocks my email down with it. Has this changed?
A: #23, Mark are you talking about the "work ofline" option in Outlook or the button in the Explorer command bar?

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: hi there,i'm very interested in upgrading to vista,bought all nessesary hardware upgrades,but i'm having a problem with xp and i'm afraid this will still be there or get worse if i upgrade without fixing it
A: Was the problem related to Offline files? What is the problem?

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Since I want to disable offline files across my organization to all Windows Vista PCs, do I have to manually disable the CSCService and the SCS driver services in each computer, or can I disable those services somehowe via group policy?
A: Disabling Offline Files using the policy I cited does what you ask.  You can deploy Group Policy across your organization to manage this across a broad scope of clients.  A side question... why do you wish to disable Offline Files?  Are you having a specific problem with the feature or do you simply not need the functionality?

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Brian (followup) : IE always had a 'work offline' feature, though not in an explorer 'command bar', this took Outlook Express offline with it. I was curious about Live Mail, and this tie in.
A: No tie in between the features.  The button in the explorer command bar (when visible) affects the "scope" (usually nearest ancestor \\server\share) of the folder being viewed.  It is strictly an Offline Files feature and has no tie in to IE or Outlook.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: What about offline folders using different users account in the same computer or domain?
A: Offline files cache is per machine. So if user A and B cache \\server\share\f1 then one copy will be stored in cache and both of them can access it.  If cache is encrypted then users cannot share files and first user to cache the file will be able to access the file offline (all users can access the file online).

Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: Can you talk about Offline Files and security? How can I protect my offline files if my laptop is stolen?
A: Offline files only allow a user who has successfully accessed the file online to be able to access the file when offline. Offline files keeps track of the user's access rights on evry online access to make sure that the offline access rights are current.

To protect against a stolen laptop case we recommend that you enable encryption of offline files cache. This will encrypt the cached file files in the context of the user that caches the files. Only that user will be able to access the files when offline.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: the problem is with explorer.exe,while viewing photos ,i get error about memory could not be read,no virus's present ,patched up GDI + ,This disables my active desktop,not sure if u can help,
A: Do you experience these problems while working offline or is this a general problem you're experiencing with Vista?  If a general problem this group won't be able to help.  Our expertise is specifically Offline Files and the remote file system.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: Could I ask whether there is a simple way yet to delete old stale offline files? I have had particular issues, when the user no longer has permissions to a certain folder, who then receives erros every time they synchronise (every log off in this case)
A: Changes have been made to scripting API to allow administrator to enumerate and delete files for other users. We have also fixed related issues and the fix should be available as hotfix.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Brian I read one blog post about a user that was using the "work offline" button because it helped them get faster access to the files.  I can't speak from personal experience though.  I'm an admin enabling offline files for my users for the first time.
A: Good.  That's exactly why it was added  :D People wanted to be able to force a scope offline even when connected.  Once you click the button the caption changes to "Work online".  You can easily toggle offline/online as desired.


Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: Can I view previous versions (shadow copies) of my Offline Files?
A: You can view previous versions of the file on server while online if shadow copy is enabled on server. Offline files does not store previous version of files modified offline.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Brian, I have disabled the policy you mentioned, but my users still have the ability to enable/disable offline files.  The services you mentioned are also still set to automatic.  In effect, the policy does not seem to be making a difference.
A: Odd.  This is a very basic operation that I've not seen fail.  The policy code simply makes calls to the service control manager (SCM) to adjust the service and driver.  Are you sure that policy is being propagated to those clients?  Try running "gpupdate /force /target:computer" on a client and see if that changes the outcome. 



Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: Any DFS considerations to be aware of when using Offline Files against a namespace?
A: Offline Files in Vista is fully compatible with DFSN. You can use offline file to cache content from DFS namespace and work offline with it.

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Q: Sriram: but What happen if the offline folder is on a window domain server and  that folder has share permissions ?
A: Access that an user will gets while offline is minumum of NTFS folder access and share access. So if user A has READ on \\server\share and has read/write on \\server\share\f1 then she will get read on \\server\share\f1.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
We will need to wrap up this chat in about 5 minutes. Please post any other questions (select the “Ask the experts” check box) that you would like us to answer. Thanks!

 

Thank you for joining us today to talk with the Offline Files in Windows Vista team.  We will have the transcript posted shortly.

Navjot[MS] (Expert):
Q: Navjot that is not entirely true.  Our DFS namespace is set up like \\domain\dfs\sitecode\users\username and the users don't have any rights to the users folder, only to their own folder.  Because Offline Folders can't walk the tree it gives us an error
A: Yes, you are right. For this scenario, the sync initiated in the sync center will give an error because it will try to sync \\domain\dfs. However, if the sync is initiated directly on \\doamin\dfs\sitecode\users\username then the sync will succeed. Any sync in sync center requires that user have atleast list permissions on all folders below \\server\share. This is true for both SMB and DFS namespace.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Q: Brian, I have tried and tried and then tried some more. I have run gpupdate, i have logged off and back on, rebooted the PC, and still Offline Files are enabled.  Using GPMC's group policy results, i see that the GPO settings are correct.
A: That is certainly not expected.  I'm afraid I'd have to defer to a Group Policy expert.  One avenue is to check the Group Policy event log channel for any errors relating to Offline Files.  If nothing obvious shows up I think the next step is for you to work with our Product Support team.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Before you leave the chat, don’t forget to let us know how we’re doing!  To the right of your emoticon pull-down box is a “Chat Feedback” option.  If you don’t feel the chat was helpful, please ensure that you provide verbose comments on why you didn’t feel it was helpful and what we can do to improve the experience for you!! 



Jill Zoeller [MSFT] (Expert):
Thanks for the questions everyone! Watch our blog at http://blogs.technet.com/filecab/default.aspx for upcoming posts about Offline Files in Windows Vista.

Brian Aust [MSFT] (Expert):
Thanks for participating today and sending us your questions and feedback. 

Sriram [MS] (Expert):
Thanks for the questions and do feel free to post on the newsgroup if you have more questions.

Wendy [MSFT] (Moderator):
Thanks everyone!


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