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Microsoft Work Folders or Offline Files: Which to Opt?


Offline files feature has been popular amongst Microsoft users since the days of Windows XP. Many organizations and enterprises opt for providing access to user data via Offline files on Windows Clients. One step ahead of it, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Work Folders that was built into Windows 8.1 and has been popular ever since. It is now available for Windows 7, Windows 10, iPhone, Android and iPad. Let’s dive into the details of each and compare work folders vs offline files.

What are offline files?

Offline files were introduced to facilitate mobile users with accessing files for which online connections or connection to the corporate network is not always possible. It allows for accessing files via the API call to file server and get the data delivered in the local cache.

What are Work Folders?

Work folders were introduced to reduce anomalies with cache while working with Offline Files.  It provides a single point of access from a user’s multiple devices. With this approach, users can access the files while they are offline and sync them back to the centralized storage once they are connected to the corporate network again. Microsoft Work Folders provides the flexibility to deploy the solution with existing deployments like Folder Redirection, Offline Files, and home folders. Administrator can manage user data via the features like file classification and folder quotas.

Work Folders vs offline files: Which to opt?

Microsoft Work Folders provide Administrators and users with a lot of flexibility to the administrator and the users of the Work Folders as compared to offline files. It provides a consistent user experience across multiple user devices, so that the user doesn’t have to update the same file on each device every time he logs in.  Here are five advantages of Work Folders over Offline Files:

    • Access data via the Internet: With Work Folders setup, you do not need to connect to a VPN or the company’s corporate network, you can get access to the required data via just an internet connection.
    • Data access from non-Windows devices: Microsoft Work Folders is also enabled in Android, iPad and iPhone. So, you are no longer tied to a Windows PC to work with your files.
    • Simple user experience: The overall structure of the Work Folder is less complex. There are no hidden caches to sort and the file paths are genuine. The updated sync engine can keep files synced with the file server.
    • Better data protections: with Microsoft Work Folders, there is an option of policy configuration on the server for encryption of data on user device. The Enterprise ID and encryption key are tied together. The admins can therefore, wipe the data of a user’s device when needed, without wiping off the personal and non-corporate data on the same device.
    • Password policy: Password policies are enforced via Group Policy. Admins are given the control to implement password policy for all managed devices that need to be used for data access.

ALSO READ: Work Folders and OneDrive: Which to opt in your Cloud Business?

MachPanel Automation module for Work Folders

MachPanel is a full-fledge business automation platform that cater for the cloud business automation needs of companies ranging from SMEs to large enterprises. The MachPanel Automation Platform for Work Folders enables a state of the art File syncing and collaboration solution. With this platform you can expand your customer base by offering Hosted Microsoft Work Folders. With a centralized management system, admins are given the flexibility to manage and secure centralized data.  The documents, the devices and the organizational knowledge base are all secured with top notch security standards.

Get your hands on MachPanel for a single Support of single server and clustered work folders deployment for better business productivity.

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MachSol is Microsoft Certified Partner and Microsoft Validated Vendor having years of experience in cloud automation industry.