Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

At the school I am interning at, all students and faculty have a mapped home folder known as the "M:" drive for storing files that they can access from all computers. For faculty who have laptops, we enable offline file sync for the "M:" drive so that they can access a copy of their files from home; however, we do this as a post-imaging task. Sometimes it is missed.

I've been trying to find a way to eliminate the need to manually enable offline file sync after imaging. The only possibility I've found so far is the "Administratively assigned offline file" Group Policy Object (located in User Configuration/Administrative Templates/Network/Offline Files).

If I enabled this, I can see the following situation occuring:

  1. Teacher A is assigned a computer and her "M" drive is automatically set to sync.
  2. Teacher B forgets his computer, so Teacher A lends hers to Teacher B.
  3. Teacher B logs in and his "M" drive, which is multiple gigabytes in size due to stored videos of the sports team he coaches, syncs to the computer.
  4. Teacher B never logs in again, but a copy of his files remain on Teacher A's computer, wasting space.

As the policy is not in the preferences category, I don't think that I can enable item-level targeting. I've also considered a registry edit, as they can be item-level targeted. However, I could not find a key that would allow me to enable it through the registry. Is there another way that I could make the policy only apply to a user when he is on his main computer? Thanks!

Update: After I passed along the info that there is no "nice" way to achieve this goal, my boss decided we're not going to try to frankenstein something together. However, I thought of one last thing, which might be worth looking into if anyone really wants to make something like this would work: Service control can be item level targeted, so in theory I imagine that it could be set so that the sync service gets killed for a given user if the user is not logged onto his own computer, and enabled when the primary user logs onto his own device. Just a thought!

share|improve this question
Is your primary motivation to free up disk space? – joeqwerty Jul 2 '14 at 17:47
Sort of -- we're trying to prevent wasted space if a faculty member with a large M drive logs onto someone else's computer once and never does again. Additionally, it would prevent unneeded network load. The main goal is to prevent having to do it as a post imaging task -- if we do happen to forget, many of the less tech-savy people here are calling us up within hours of recieving a new machine. – Krixvar Jul 2 '14 at 18:16
up vote 8 down vote accepted

You're running into a design-limitation of Offline Files. It is a per-machine cache, enabled and disabled at a per-machine level. Offline Files limits visibility of items to users who are authorized to view them, but there is a single cache on the machine. You can't disable the caching functionality for just certain users on a machine.

There just isn't a granular level of control to do what you're looking for. The community asked for it in Windows Vista, again in Windows 7, and still didn't get it in Windows 8. (There's some kinda, sorta functionality in Windows 8 with the "Primary Computer" functionality of Folder Redirection, but that's not a change in Offline Files-- it's just a change in Folder Redirection that impacts the Group Policy setting to always make redirected folders available offline as a side-effect.)

share|improve this answer
That's unfortunate.. well thank you for clearing that up. Before I mark this as answered, do you happen to know if the registry contains keys for which folders are synced? Considering that registry keys can be item-level targeted, I would imagine this would be a sufficient workaround if such a key exists. – Krixvar Jul 2 '14 at 18:19
FWIW, on Windows 8.1 even though enabling the cache is per-machine each user on that machine seems to see their own copy (or maybe a filtered list) of offline files. So if user1 syncs \\server\folder to computer1 by checking "Always Available Offline" in explorer, user2 won't see \\server\folder when computer1 is offline until user2 also checks "Alway Available Offline" from computer1. – alx9r Feb 14 at 20:26

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.