File Sync Malady
Windows 2000 continually updates offline file folders by design—Group Policy plays no part.
- By Bill Boswell
We run Windows 2000 Professional on a
1,500-user network using roaming profiles. The Group Policy settings force
a synchronization of the user's offline files at logout. We have several
"shared" machines (e.g. in the receptionists' office) where
up to 10 staffers log in during the course of the week.
On the "shared" PC's, when a user logs off not only are the
current user's files synchronized but so are the files of everyone who
has been logged onto that machine in the past (even if those user are
currently logged in at another location). Can I modify any settings so
that only the current users' files are synchronized?
Name withheld by request
Offline folder synchronization can get a little complex, so let's simplify
matters at the start by focusing on just one file. I'm assuming that the
kiosk machine is connected to the network and the users log into a Windows
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Suppose avguser logs on at the kiosk machine and goes into the folder
that has offline files. Just for the sake of discussion, it's the My Documents
folder that you've redirected to a central server.
Avguser creates a text file called File1.txt, adds a little content and
saves the file. As soon as Avguser presses Ctrl+S to save the file, two
things happen: The locally cached copy gets updated and so does
the network copy on the server hosting the redirected My Documents folder.
This does not wait for synchronization at the end of the logon session.
The network copy stays fresh continually throughout the session as the
user saves the content.
Avguser stays logged onto the kiosk machine and walks over to his own
machine and logs on. He opens the My Documents folder. He sees the new
file and, when he opens it, he sees the content he saved at the first
He adds a few lines, saves the file, then goes back to the kiosk machine
and opens the file. He should see that the contents have changed with
the additions he made at the second machine. He can walk back to his own
machine, close the file, then open it and see the new content.
This behavior is "by design." Changing the Group Policy properties
that manage the Synchronization Manager won't change the behavior. Using
an application that puts an opportunistic lock on the file (like Word)
would affect this experiment only by forcing you to close the file between
But your question implies that you've seen an additional phenomenon where
Avguser's files would get synchronized at some later time in the day when
another user at the kiosk machine logs off. I'm betting that you're seeing
the updates made to the server copies of the files.
If users are seeing their files change back to a previously saved version
throughout the day as users log in and out of the kiosk machine, then
write me and walk me through a sample transaction.
In the meantime, hope this helps.
Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.