SBS 2011 Essentials Win 7 Pro Pack Disable Offline Files

sbsessAnother question from the forum prompted this post. The question related to disabling offline files for Desktop computers that never left the office after deploying the Win 7 Pro Pack.

The default for redirected folders, is to make them available offline. Which is great, except if you’re like me, and get really frustrated with Offline Files, and the Sync Center. Even more so if your network is totally desktop driven with no laptops.

To disable the use of Offline Files, is really quite simple using a GPO.

What if you only want to disable it for some of your computers?

Again, quite simple, but you need to follow some extra steps.

First, let’s build a GPO to disable Offline Files.

Open the GPMC from the Administrative Tools menu.

Expand Group Policy Objects, then right click Group Policy Objects, and click New.

New Policy

Enter a Name for your Policy – something like – Disable Offline Files. You can ignore ‘Starter GPO’

New Policy 2

Your Policy now appears in the list. Right click, and choose Edit.


The Group Policy Editor will open.

Under Computer Configuration, expand Policies, Administrative Templates, Network, Offline Files.

Offline Files Policy

Find the ‘Allow or Disallow use of the Offline Files Feature’ policy setting, double click, and set to disabled. Enter a comment if you want to.

Offline Files Policy Edit

Click OK to confirm, and then close down the GPO Editor.

Now, we can be a little creative with how to filter this policy so it only applies to the desktop computers.

There are a lot of different ways to achieve this but i am going for an easy one.

Open up Active Directory Users & Computers from the Administrative Tools menu.

Select the Users container. Right click and Select, New > Group.


Enter a name for your group, i am choosing ‘DesktopComputers’ select OK when you have entered a name.


Right click your new Group, and click Properties.


Switch to the Members tab, and click Add.


Click Object types, and make sure to select Computers. Then click OK.


In the search box, enter the name of the computers you want to disable Offline Files for.

You can enter multiple names separated by a ‘;’ and then use the Check Names button to search for the Computers.



Click OK when you have added all your computers.


Close down Active Directory Users & Computers, and switch back to the GPMC.

Select your Policy again, and under Security Filtering, remove ‘Authenticated users’, then click Add, and enter the name of your Group.



Right click your Domain Name at the top of the GPMC, and select Link and Existing GPO..


Find your new Policy in the list, and select it.



We can now switch to one of our Desktop PC’s and check the status of Group Policy.

On my Win7 Client i am going to run an Elevated Command Prompt.


We can see that the current settings do not reflect what we have just configured.


We can quickly reboot the PC to change that.

After a reboot you can see that the Policy is now applied, and the Computer shows a member of our new Group.


You can go into the Sync Center and check the status of Offline Files.


You may see that it shows Offline Files is Disable but Active – simply reboot again to fully disable.

If you ever add any more Desktop machines, simply make sure to add them as a member of your Group to disable Offline Files, and if you ever want to re-enable Offline Files, remove them from the Group, and then use the Sync Center to switch Offline Files back on.

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

4 Responses to SBS 2011 Essentials Win 7 Pro Pack Disable Offline Files

  1. Gary says:

    Thank you! I found this immensely helpful. I can’t believe how poor “Offline Files” is. Just a small network with 10 desktops, never disconnect, but all showing “Sync Conflicts” that seem impossible to resolve.

    My question is what if the server goes down? The client redirection no longer works, Is there any easy, automatic way to backup just the redirected folders without needing a functioning server to recover?

    In our setting (no IT support except me), it is possible the server could be down for a day or longer, and the users would need their data sooner, if possible.

    We are using SBS 2011 Essentials, with server backups, but again, they won’t help until the server is working…at which point the redirected folder will already be available. We like folder redirection so the users have access to their data from multiple PCs.


    • Well, the saying goes you cant have your cake and eat it.

      So, do you like Folder Redirection enough that the risk the server is down is acceptable?

      or, is it better to not use folder redirection, and have the documents backed up to the server via Client PC Backup?

      I guess it becomes a question of how often do people move desks.

      • Gary says:

        Yeah…thanks. I get that I have a choice to make…it just seems totally unnecessary. Seems like it would have been easy to design folder redirection for easy backups. I’m trying running a script to change permissions on the redirected folders (per Susan Bradley) and then backing up just those folders with a separate utility like Syncback Pro. We’ll see.

        Once again, thanks for the clear directions for turning off offline files.


  2. Karen says:

    Gary asks how to *back up* the redirected folders in preparation for a server-down scenario. This doesn’t require Offline files to be enabled; rather, it requires some sort of backup, which could be quite simple (no software purchase required). You will likely have to grant a special user (or could be domain admin) permission to the whole “users” share, but then a simple batch file (calling e.g., XCOPY, RichCopy, or I prefer ROBOCOPY) to some medium accessible to regular users in a server-down scenario should suffice. It should probably run from task scheduler on the server. Don’t forget to check “run with highest privileges” and check all the other settings, including “run whether logged on or not.”

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