The Offline Files feature of Windows 2000 and later enables users to maintain a local copy of a shared folder so they can work with the folder and its contents when the server is unavailable. However, you might prefer to disable offline folders in your network for security reasons or simply to avoid the problems that will inevitably crop up when users try to take advantage of offline folders.

You can configure client-side settings to control offline files, either manually or through group policy. To configure offline files manually, open any folder on the client computer, choose Tools | Folder Options, and then click the Offline Files tab. This is where you can enable or disable offline files altogether. You can also configure how to synchronize offline files, specify the size of the offline files cache, and configure a few other minor options.

In situations where you need to configure a number of offline settings on multiple computers, you can turn to local or group policy to apply the settings. The policies are located in the Administrative Templates | Network | Offline Files branch of both the Computer Configuration and User Configuration policy branches. You can set a variety of settings that disable offline files, prevent the user from making offline file setting changes, and fully configure offline file behavior.