Taking This Discussion Offline
Clearing the air on Windows Server 2003 offline file servers and offline file clients.
- By Bill Boswell
- January 01, 2004
I read that enabling offline files on
a Windows Server 2003 is mutually exclusive with enabling Remote Desktop
Administration on that server. You can do one or the other but not both,
the reference says. Our Windows XP workstations connect to Windows 2003
servers. Can we use offline files?
I found a Microsoft article at http://www.microsoft.com/
proddocs/deployguide/dmebc_dsm_ekqq.asp that says we can set a Registry
key to solve this problem. Will that do the trick?
David: The remote desktop settings on a server do not interfere
with the server's ability to respond to file caching requests from offline
file clients, but I can see where you can get confused.
When you enable offline file caching at a client (Windows XP/2000/2003),
the client starts populating a local cache with copies of files that it
gets from a file server. At the server, each share has settings to control
offline file utilization:
- Block clients from caching files from that share
- Allow clients to cache any file that they touch
- Allow clients to cache a file only they specifically select them
Help from Bill
Got a Windows or Exchange question or need troubleshooting
help? Or maybe you want a better explanation than provided
in the manuals? Describe your dilemma in an e-mail
to Bill at mailto:email@example.com;
the best questions get answered in this column.
When you send your questions, please include your
full first and last name, location, certifications (if
any) with your message. (If you prefer to remain anonymous,
specify this in your message but submit the requested
information for verification purposes.)
Here's where the confusion starts. It's possible for a Windows Server
2003 server to act as an offline file server (handling offline file access
to its own share points) and as an offline file client (requesting offline
file access to share points on other servers.) It's the second role, the
offline file client, that your reference discusses.
If you enable remote desktop access on a Windows Server 2003 server,
the terminal services redirector permits three simultaneous RDP connections,
one for the console (Winsta0) and two more for administrative remote desktop
sessions. This means that three users could have a live desktop session
at the same time.
The structure of the offline file cache does not permit a client to work
correctly if more than one user has a live desktop session, so if you
enable remote desktop access to a server, Windows disables its ability
to store offline files and turns off the Offline Files option in Folder
This has nothing to do with the server's ability to dish out files to
offline file clients. As long as a share does not block offline file requests,
the server is happy to respond to offline file clients regardless of the
local remote desktop settings.
Okay, with all that out of the way I read the link you sent me and found
the Registry entry mentioned in the article. Here it is:
Key: HKLM | Software | Microsoft | Windows NT | CurrentVersion
Data: 0 (REG_DWORD)
I tried this entry on several Windows Server 2003 machines. In my testing,
the entry had no effect on the number of remote desktop sessions the server
could host nor on its offline file client operation. As soon as I enabled
remote desktop access, the Offline Files option went away and I could
still make up to three simultaneous connections.
So, unless I hear differently, I'm going to speculate that this Registry
entry does not work in the way the article seems to imply.
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.