Disable offline files in Windows 7

Posted On 2010-07-17 by dwirch
Tags: Tutorial Tip Windows 7 Vista Windows XP
Views: 9935

The Windows 7 Offline Files feature allows you to keep on your computer, copies of files normally stored on the network. When you select a network file or folder to make available offline, Windows automatically creates a copy of that file or folder on your computer.

Anytime you reconnect to that network folder, Windows syncs the files with those in the network folder. You can also sync them manually at any time.

You will then be able to work with them even when your computer is not connected to the network, or the file server is down or otherwise unavailable. When next you connect, Windows 7 will automatically synchronize your offline files with the original files in the network folder.

In certain environments however, you might not want your users to be able to cache local copies of files. In a secure IT environment such as a hospital or government domain, some machines might pose a security risk if some information is present on the local hard drive.

Turning off the Offline Files feature is pretty straightforward. Here is how to do it on a single PC:

  • Open Control Panel from Start button.
  • Open Sync center (If you don't see sync center select 'Small Icons' in the View by options in the right upper part of Control Panel window.)
  • Now click on 'Manage offline files' . This will open offline files window where you can configure the operation of offline files.
  • Click on 'Disable Offline Files' button.
  • Restart the system to make the change effective.

BUT, you have about one bazillion workstations that you need to apply this fix to. Not to worry! Group Policy to the rescue! The settings for Offline Files can be found in the GPO editor, at the following locations:

User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files
Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files

Microsoft has a nice little KB article on this, and you see it here.

About the Author

dwirch has posted a total of 189 articles.

Comments On This Post

By: Keenanb
Date: 2011-01-06

By default in a business environment (which is where offline folders will be utilised) a user will not have administrative permissions. This means that the user will find that th "Manage offline Files" buttton will be greyed out and the user will be unable to turn off this feature and then turn it on again at will

By: FortyPoundHead
Date: 2011-01-06

Thanks, Keenan!

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