Offline files nightmare



  • I've never worked in an environment that had so much dependency on offline files. This place has 110 users, and each of them have a laptop that they take home each night to work on (some don't, but most do). Their documents target in their library shows the network file share, and when they go off the network, offline files kicks in. When they hit the network the next day, or over VPN, their stuff syncs up and all is well.

    This works about 99% of the time. Laptop fails, get them a new one, and their stuff gets cached locally by the file server.

    That 1% of the time... everything appears to be working correctly, but doesn't sync everything. Laptop fails, and user is super pissed that they don't have everything. Which I see that as being validated because we should be able to hand them a service that protects from that kind of thing.

    It's happened twice in the year I've been here, and I cannot confidently say that I trust syncing out to the namespace/file share that we have on-premises. It's gotten to the point that I get hammered on when a user finds out they lost some work.

    Not sure what to do on this one, cause users need offline files enabled (because they aren't on the VPN, all the time), but sync isn't 100%.



  • Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?



  • @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?

    I really would love to move to something like that. I've always had fine experiences with syncing to services like Dropbox/OneDrive/Google Drive/etc. We're pretty rooted into the pragmatic setup of on-premises file shares. I also get asked the hard question of "why doesn't this work? It's worked this way for years." To which I don't have an answer, also because I have never had so many users with offline files, and so many people bringing home their laptops every night.

    Maybe I'm just venting... I donno. This one has me worn out mentally. I'm so sick of it.



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?

    I really would love to move to something like that. I've always had fine experiences with syncing to services like Dropbox/OneDrive/Google Drive/etc. We're pretty rooted into the pragmatic setup of on-premises file shares. I also get asked the hard question of "why doesn't this work? It's worked this way for years." To which I don't have an answer, also because I have never had so many users with offline files, and so many people bringing home their laptops every night.

    Maybe I'm just venting... I donno. This one has me worn out mentally. I'm so sick of it.

    You can have sync services like that that are also on premises file shares. Doesn't have to be one or the other.



  • @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?

    I really would love to move to something like that. I've always had fine experiences with syncing to services like Dropbox/OneDrive/Google Drive/etc. We're pretty rooted into the pragmatic setup of on-premises file shares. I also get asked the hard question of "why doesn't this work? It's worked this way for years." To which I don't have an answer, also because I have never had so many users with offline files, and so many people bringing home their laptops every night.

    Maybe I'm just venting... I donno. This one has me worn out mentally. I'm so sick of it.

    You can have sync services like that that are also on premises file shares. Doesn't have to be one or the other.

    Sorry, what I meant by on-premises I meant the standard Windows file services. I should have clarified. Because the question comes up "why would we need to invest in anything? We've always just used Windows file services, setup namespaces/target servers with DFS, and that was that..." To which, I don't really have a good answer why syncing just all of a sudden stops one day.

    One really weird instance was one user had the correct target path in their documents (showed it was pointing at the file share), and they pull up docs FROM the file server and make changes. Save and close. Open that doc from their computer and it shows the change, open from another computer and there's no change. Only caught it cause she moves between desks to cover someone for lunch and she noticed the difference. Looking into it, it was a caching issue. If you looked in her local CSC folder, you could see the changes, so they were just sitting there waiting to be written to the file share. Sync said it was syncing just fine (but obviously it wasn't).



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?

    I really would love to move to something like that. I've always had fine experiences with syncing to services like Dropbox/OneDrive/Google Drive/etc. We're pretty rooted into the pragmatic setup of on-premises file shares. I also get asked the hard question of "why doesn't this work? It's worked this way for years." To which I don't have an answer, also because I have never had so many users with offline files, and so many people bringing home their laptops every night.

    Maybe I'm just venting... I donno. This one has me worn out mentally. I'm so sick of it.

    You can have sync services like that that are also on premises file shares. Doesn't have to be one or the other.

    Sorry, what I meant by on-premises I meant the standard Windows file services. I should have clarified. Because the question comes up "why would we need to invest in anything? We've always just used Windows file services, setup namespaces/target servers with DFS, and that was that..." To which, I don't really have a good answer why syncing just all of a sudden stops one day.

    Then counter that there is not necessarily anything to invest in. Just change what you use. Sounds like they don't want it fixed. Would fixing what is there be considered an investment in fixing it?



  • @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?

    I really would love to move to something like that. I've always had fine experiences with syncing to services like Dropbox/OneDrive/Google Drive/etc. We're pretty rooted into the pragmatic setup of on-premises file shares. I also get asked the hard question of "why doesn't this work? It's worked this way for years." To which I don't have an answer, also because I have never had so many users with offline files, and so many people bringing home their laptops every night.

    Maybe I'm just venting... I donno. This one has me worn out mentally. I'm so sick of it.

    You can have sync services like that that are also on premises file shares. Doesn't have to be one or the other.

    Sorry, what I meant by on-premises I meant the standard Windows file services. I should have clarified. Because the question comes up "why would we need to invest in anything? We've always just used Windows file services, setup namespaces/target servers with DFS, and that was that..." To which, I don't really have a good answer why syncing just all of a sudden stops one day.

    Would fixing what is there be considered an investment in fixing it?

    Asking that, the counter is "we already made the investment setting it up, so it shouldn't need to be altered."

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    Have you considered a more modern syncing alternative? DropBox, ownCloud, NextCloud, Box, or any number of similar services? I think that most of these handle these scenarios more elegantly. I know that this is a big change rather than a "fix", but maybe it is worth considering?

    I really would love to move to something like that. I've always had fine experiences with syncing to services like Dropbox/OneDrive/Google Drive/etc. We're pretty rooted into the pragmatic setup of on-premises file shares. I also get asked the hard question of "why doesn't this work? It's worked this way for years." To which I don't have an answer, also because I have never had so many users with offline files, and so many people bringing home their laptops every night.

    Maybe I'm just venting... I donno. This one has me worn out mentally. I'm so sick of it.

    You can have sync services like that that are also on premises file shares. Doesn't have to be one or the other.

    Sorry, what I meant by on-premises I meant the standard Windows file services. I should have clarified. Because the question comes up "why would we need to invest in anything? We've always just used Windows file services, setup namespaces/target servers with DFS, and that was that..." To which, I don't really have a good answer why syncing just all of a sudden stops one day.

    Would fixing what is there be considered an investment in fixing it?

    Asking that, the counter is "we already made the investment setting it up, so it shouldn't need to be altered."

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.

    That's the same as saying "don't fix it." So if they complain say "you decided not to fix it, this is what you want."



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.

    That's just an alias for the "sunk cost fallacy."



  • @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.

    That's just an alias for the "sunk cost fallacy."

    I'm guessing you're talking about a sunken cost is one thing, but sinking more and more money into something because you are already invested in it? Say you spend $2k on something, but the operating cost is (with labor) $4k per year to keep it going, when you could invest $3k into something different which doesn't require that continued cost... That what you mean, roughly?



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.

    That's just an alias for the "sunk cost fallacy."

    I'm guessing you're talking about a sunken cost is one thing, but sinking more and more money into something because you are already invested in it? Say you spend $2k on something, but the operating cost is (with labor) $4k per year to keep it going, when you could invest $3k into something different which doesn't require that continued cost... That what you mean, roughly?

    Yes, or in this case, having invested time and money into something that could be replaced with something free. No matter how much money and time was invested in the past, you have an equal amount of useful investment into what you have today and some of the alternatives, like NextCloud. Literally, you own as much of both. Or really, you own more of NextCloud. So the sunk cost idea is really crazy because the amount spent before means nothing, and the amount needed "to get to a good solution" is easily far less changing to a different product.

    And that's before we look at long term support and operational costs.



  • @BBigford This is why I have a GPO to disable offline files. I have mostly seen it be a PITA, than actually work. I was interested in Windows Work Folders but that requires Enterprise and our laptops are only on Pro. Also, the initial server setup seemed to be pretty involved.



  • @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford This is why I have a GPO to disable offline files. I have mostly seen it be a PITA, than actually work. I was interested in Windows Work Folders but that requires Enterprise and our laptops are only on Pro. Also, the initial server setup seemed to be pretty involved.

    We're on Pro as well. After this, I won't be curious about Offline Files ever again, in any environment.



  • @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.

    That's just an alias for the "sunk cost fallacy."

    I'm guessing you're talking about a sunken cost is one thing, but sinking more and more money into something because you are already invested in it? Say you spend $2k on something, but the operating cost is (with labor) $4k per year to keep it going, when you could invest $3k into something different which doesn't require that continued cost... That what you mean, roughly?

    So the sunk cost idea is really crazy because the amount spent before means nothing

    That was a much better way of putting it. Even after I sent my reply, I was thinking "how do I say what I'm trying to say..."



  • @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford This is why I have a GPO to disable offline files. I have mostly seen it be a PITA, than actually work. I was interested in Windows Work Folders but that requires Enterprise and our laptops are only on Pro. Also, the initial server setup seemed to be pretty involved.

    I've always found it to be flaky. It's a neat idea, no clue why it is so bad.



  • I have seen complaints with semi-related OneDrive (and similar products), so I can't hold out any hope that there is an end-all solution.



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    But another aspect would rise I would think, and that's 'continued investment'.

    That's just an alias for the "sunk cost fallacy."

    I'm guessing you're talking about a sunken cost is one thing, but sinking more and more money into something because you are already invested in it? Say you spend $2k on something, but the operating cost is (with labor) $4k per year to keep it going, when you could invest $3k into something different which doesn't require that continued cost... That what you mean, roughly?

    So the sunk cost idea is really crazy because the amount spent before means nothing

    That was a much better way of putting it. Even after I sent my reply, I was thinking "how do I say what I'm trying to say..."

    I think the way to frame the issue (which you should never have to do to business people, they should be doing this to you not the other way around) is to show what it costs to get where you need to be "from here", not from a theoretical time in the past. The past decisions are already made, they can't be changed. And if what they did in the past cost nothing or millions doesn't change anything, what matters is where you are now and where you need to go from here.



  • @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    I have seen complaints with semi-related OneDrive (and similar products), so I can't hold out any hope that there is an end-all solution.

    Something similar, where it's held local but doesn't sync? Even though sync says everything is fine, or were there errors that you're aware of?



  • @BBigford Yes. Where you have to blow away their local copy and have it download the entirety of their data. There are other issues, but this is one that I have seen the most of. If you want to see what you are up against, Google - OneDrive Sync issues. It may or may not be as prevalent an issue as it once was.



  • @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford Yes. Where you have to blow away their local copy and have it download the entirety of their data. There are other issues, but this is one that I have seen the most of. If you want to see what you are up against, Google - OneDrive Sync issues. It may or may not be as prevalent an issue as it once was.

    Nextcloud and ownCloud never seemed to have this issue to me.



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    I have seen complaints with semi-related OneDrive (and similar products), so I can't hold out any hope that there is an end-all solution.

    Something similar, where it's held local but doesn't sync? Even though sync says everything is fine, or were there errors that you're aware of?

    Honestly, I can't remember if errors were thrown or not. I have definitely seen errors but I can't remember if there were some that didn't have an error and had issues.



  • @Reid-Cooper I like a "map analogy" for that. Tell them that you need to get to point Y on a map. You are currently at X. The sunk cost fallacy would be taking into consideration "where you started from" to get to point Y rather than "where you are currently." When driving around, you never consider where you came from, that is obviously nuts. But people do this with finances all the time.

    Imagine that you were driving from New York to California and got lost in Nebraska. Your GPS finds you the route from where you are in Nebraska to California. It doesn't only tell you the route from NY or send you back to NY to start over.

    This is why it is a good thing that engineers make GPS system and not business people 😉 Business people would keep asking where you had left from rather than where you are and would keep giving you directions from a place that you are not in.



  • @dafyre said in Offline files nightmare:

    @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @BBigford Yes. Where you have to blow away their local copy and have it download the entirety of their data. There are other issues, but this is one that I have seen the most of. If you want to see what you are up against, Google - OneDrive Sync issues. It may or may not be as prevalent an issue as it once was.

    Nextcloud and ownCloud never seemed to have this issue to me.

    I've never seen it.



  • @dafyre Good to know. I was considering owncloud then it got forked(?) to nextcloud and it is still too new for me to use in production.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Offline files nightmare:

    @Reid-Cooper I like a "map analogy" for that. Tell them that you need to get to point Y on a map. You are currently at X. The sunk cost fallacy would be taking into consideration "where you started from" to get to point Y rather than "where you are currently." When driving around, you never consider where you came from, that is obviously nuts. But people do this with finances all the time.

    Imagine that you were driving from New York to California and got lost in Nebraska. Your GPS finds you the route from where you are in Nebraska to California. It doesn't only tell you the route from NY or send you back to NY to start over.

    This is why it is a good thing that engineers make GPS system and not business people 😉 Business people would keep asking where you had left from rather than where you are and would keep giving you directions from a place that you are not in.

    Haha thanks for that. I got a good laugh. Great way to put it too, definitely going to use that at some point.



  • @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @dafyre Good to know. I was considering owncloud then it got forked(?) to nextcloud and it is still too new for me to use in production.

    Forked doesn't mean new. NextCloud is very mature. It's like a decade old, the most mature of its class of software, open source (which adds to maturity) and is on the tenth production major release. If it's not mature, nothing is.



  • @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @dafyre Good to know. I was considering owncloud then it got forked(?) to nextcloud and it is still too new for me to use in production.

    I honestly haven't tried NextCloud or ownCloud yet. How is that stored, is it something you can store on-premises if needed (like downloading a server-client copy), or is it only out on someone else's servers, or what? Going to do a little research, just thought I'd ask in the mean time how it realistically looks.



  • This is one of the beauties of open source software, new projects don't always mean new code. Many projects come from mature code. Like DragonFly from FreeBSD. DragonFly wasn't new, even though it forked from FreeBSD. Just two different directions from the same starting point.



  • @BBigford said in Offline files nightmare:

    @wrx7m said in Offline files nightmare:

    @dafyre Good to know. I was considering owncloud then it got forked(?) to nextcloud and it is still too new for me to use in production.

    I honestly haven't tried NextCloud or ownCloud yet. How is that stored, is it something you can store on-premises if needed (like downloading a server-client copy), or is it only out on someone else's servers, or what? Going to do a little research, just thought I'd ask in the mean time how it realistically looks.

    It's just a file server. You install it wherever you want. Same as Samba, Windows File Server, etc.



  • @scottalanmiller I know it doesn't mean new, but there were some decent sized changes from what I could tell. I am optimistic, for sure.


Log in to reply