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Local Folder Synchronization – Offline Folders (Native)

Users who work remotely on content creation and save files locally for offline access, can now access these files on-the-go from their mobile devices without having to open their local machine. The Docs service provides authorized users access to their Home Directory hosted on network-attached storage (NAS) shares and exposed through Microsoft Active Directory. This synchronization feature, synching folders on the user’s remote laptop or desktop with their home directory, is only available on local machines running Microsoft Windows.

When you select a network file or folder to make it available offline, Windows automatically creates a copy of that file or folder on your computer. Thereafter, any time you reconnect to the network folder, Windows synchronizes these files with those in the network folder. You can also synchronize them manually any time you want. As pointed out above, this feature does not work out of the box with a Samba network drive, and workarounds are not currently supported by Microsoft. Otherwise, the feature can be enabled from Windows Explorer and used for any shared folder as pictured.

Now that the shared folder is available offline, it can be used offline. Users can even make a shortcut to the shared folder on their desktop for convenience. When working offline and changes are made to offline files in a network folder, Windows automatically synchronizes the changes the next time you connect to that network folder. You can also manually synchronize changes by clicking the Sync Center tool .

Additionally, there are more advanced synchronization scheduling controls available in the Windows Sync Center.

If the user is working offline while someone else changes a file in a shared network folder, Windows synchronizes those changes with the offline file on the local computer the next time it connects to that network folder. If a synchronization conflict occurs, for example, changes were made to both the network and offline versions of the file between syncups, Windows prompts the user to confirm which change takes precedence.

Files that were cached automatically are removed on a least-recently used basis once the maximum cache size is reached. Files cached manually are never removed from the local cache. When the total cache size limit is reached and all files that were cached automatically have already been removed, files cannot be made available offline until you specify a new limit or delete files from the local cache by using the Offline Files control panel applet.

The default size limit for the Offline Files cache is 25-percent of the total disk space of the drive where the cache is located. The cache size can be configured through the Group Policy by setting the limit on disk space used by Offline Files—go to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Network > Offline Files—on each client separately.

Synchronization takes place a few minutes after the user logs in and connects/opens a shared network folder containing offline files and is schedule- or event-based. However, this must still be enabled manually by each user. Even so, through the Group Policy editor, the domain administrator can set various synchronization triggers; e.g., On Logon, On Logoff, Sync Interval, etc.

these settings are available in User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files and in Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files in the Group Policy Object Editor snap-in. For more information about policy settings, see the Explain tab on the Properties page of each policy.

Folder Redirection and Offline Folders, provide the following advantages compared to a proprietary laptop/desktop agent furnished by Good:
  • IT does not have to manage and deploy another desktop agent
  • Microsoft Folder Redirection is integrated with GPO and manages conflicts
  • Existing compliance tools and processes govern the data.

Once the files are synchronized to the “Home Directory,” IT administrators can make use of the Docs service feature in which Microsoft Active Directory attributes can be specified in the path to expose the user’s “Home Directory” to the BlackBerry Work app running on provisioned mobile devices. It is also important to remember that for users who have their home folder defined in Microsoft Active Directory, Folder Redirection works when the folder redirection path is the same as the user’s home folder in Microsoft Active Directory.

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