How to access network files when offline : Windows Sync

Windows 7 has a unique utility called as Sync Center. This program takes care of syncing  and making network files and folders available to you even if the source is offline. The Windows Sync is available in Control Panel > Sync Center. Before you start working lets us understand the concept of Offline Files in terms of Windows Sync Center.

Offline files are copies of files and folders which live on some other network you have access to. These copies are stored locally on your computer ( thus offline) and is available to you anytime even when the network is not available. So how is it useful ?

  • Lets say you are working on a network file and connectivity breaks. Sync center still lets you work on Offline file without bothering you about the network outage.
  • When the connectivity is on but it’s very slow.
  • When you are not connected at all and there is no chance you would connect back to network for next 2-3 days. Since Sync Center will keep up a local copy on your computer, you can still access them and change. When you connect back to network your changes will be synced back to the source and any changes made on the source will be reflected back to you.

Starting with Windows 7 Sync Center :

  • Since offline files are store locally in your computer you should be careful with size of the network files you are going to make it available Offline.
  • First You need to setup the disk usage. In case you have huge number of files to be synced, I would suggest you to have your primary partition to be bigger of which you can dedicate a big part ( may be of 20gb ) available for Offline Files. I wasn’t able to find a way I can change the location so i can dedicate a separate partition for it.

  • Once done that I would recommend using Encryption which is available under 3rd Tab. This is to increase your security.
  • Lastly like I said you can work offline when network is slow, Set the sync center to detect if the connection is slow after every short or long period. This will help the sync center to take decision to switch to offline mode to make your work experience much soothing.

Done this Now all you need is to understand your sync center a little more.

  • How to make Network files available offline : Right click on any network folder on some other machine and right-click on a file or folder, and select Always Available Offline.
  • To find out more on recent syncs use the Sync Results item.
  • To find conflicts use the Conflicts menu.

Setting up Sync Partnership :

A sync partnership is a set of rules that governs on how the files will be synced back and forth between your computer and the source.  You can set up for when of conflicts who will win, when you want to sync etc. This is required if you dont want to get prompted for each and everything. Use the Setup Sync Partnership menu for this. if you have any folder already available offline you can start using this feature right away.

Sync Center is an excellent way you can synchronize files between different network. Your Network drive at home, your documents at office, music files on your mobile and many more. You dont need any external software to do it all the time. However there is no way you can do online synchronization using this. It’s between network.

I would suggest you to start using this feature and see how much you can make use of it. Ask your family to take part with you in it and find what is their experience.  So what are you waiting for Go Sync.!!


  1. I have a quick question about offline files and was wondering if you could help.

    I have windows 7 enterprise running on my work netbook and my desktop both of which are setup to the same homegroup.

    I want to make a folder of my desktop always available offline so I can work on it when I am away using my netbook and then sync back. Its mostly just word documents.

    So I try right-clicking and making it available offline.

    Suppose I then disconnect my desktop and try to access a file. How do I find it to open it? Once it is open and I make changes and try to save it, my netbook wants me to save a copy and will not overwrite the desktop version as it is ‘read-only’.

    Am I doing something wrong?



  2. Thanks for the article,

    question: is it possible to sync a server folder called Y on a laptop and once offline connect to anohter netword and share the Y folder with 2nd laptop (like both laptop are offline from the server, they are on a diff network)?



  3. Hi,

    I have two PC’s in a network, both with two data parts of 250GB, where i want that PC2 (server) data part to always be the same as PC1. PC1 is running Win7/64 (home premium) and PC2 (server) is running Vista/32 (Ultimate).

    Should i run windows sync center or windows SyncToy 2.1 ?

    When this works I plan to backup PC2 to Mosy

    Is there an even better solution for my task ?



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