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Configure Offline Availability for a Shared Folder

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2

With Share and Storage Management, you can configure if and how files and programs in a shared folder or volume will be available offline. Users can use the Offline Files feature on their client computers to work with shared folders stored on a server, even when they are not connected to the network. To make shared network folders available offline, Offline Files stores a version of those shared folders in a reserved portion of the disk on the user's computer (a local cache).

You can also use Share and Storage Management to enable BranchCache on shared folders. The BranchCache feature in Windows® 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 enables computers in a branch office to cache files downloaded from this shared folder, and then securely serve the files to other computers in the branch.


When you create a shared folder, offline availability is allowed by default, which means that secure folders can be stored offline on potentially non secure computers. For best security, do not allow users to store files offline. If you do, consider encrypting the operating system volume using Windows® BitLocker™ Drive Encryption. For more information, see the BitLocker Drive Encryption page of the Microsoft Web site (

Configuring offline settings

Membership in Administrators, or equivalent, is the minimum required to complete this procedure. Review details about using the appropriate accounts and group memberships at

To configure offline settings for a shared folder

  1. On the Shares tab, under Protocol: SMB, right-click the shared folder for which you want to configure offline settings, and then click Properties.

  2. On the Sharing tab, click Advanced.

  3. On the Caching tab, configure offline availability options as appropriate, and then click OK.

Offline availability options

You can choose one of the following offline availability options for each shared folder:

  • Only the files and programs that users specify are available offline. This is the default option when you set up a shared folder. With this option, no files or programs are available offline by default, and users control which files and programs they want to access when they are not connected to the network.

    • Enable BranchCache Enables computers in a branch office to cache files downloaded from this shared folder and then securely serve the files to other computers in the branch office.
  • No files or programs from the share are available offline. This option blocks Offline Files on the client computers from making copies of the files and programs on the shared folder.

  • All files and programs that users open from the share are automatically available offline. Whenever a user accesses the shared folder or volume and opens a file or program in it, that file or program will be automatically made available offline to that user. Files and programs that are automatically made available offline will remain in the Offline Files cache and synchronize with the version on the server until the cache gets full or the user deletes the files. Files and programs that are not opened are not available offline.

    If you select the Optimized for performance check box, executable files (EXE, DLL) that are run from the shared folder by a client computer are automatically cached on that client computer. The next time the client computer needs to run those same executable files, it will access its local cache instead of the shared folder on the server. This option is especially useful for file servers that host applications, because it reduces network traffic and improves server scalability.


The Offline Files feature must be enabled on the client computer for files and programs to be automatically cached. Additionally, the Optimized for performance option does not have any effect on client computers using Windows Vista or newer.

Additional considerations

  • To open Share and Storage Management, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Share and Storage Management.

Additional references