With Offline Files, you can work with files stored on a network server even if you're not connected to that server. This feature lets you access the same set of data regardless of whether you're connected to the network. This is especially helpful when you're using a laptop on the go. However, this feature is only available with Windows XP Professional.
For example, you could make a folder available offline while at the office and then have access to those same files while in a hotel room thousands of miles away. When you return from the trip and reconnect to the office network, all changes made while you were on the road are copied to the server. Thus, you're always working with the most recent files, no matter if you're connected or not.
Offline Files properties are configured with the Offline Files tab, which is part of the Windows Explorer Folder Options. But don't go running for the Folder Options dialog box right now. You're not going to see that Folder Options tab just yet because Offline Files are not enabled by default.
Three distinct steps are involved in configuring Offline Files. First, you have to turn off Simple File Sharing. To do so, follow these steps:
As you can see, there's a warning. Fortunately, this warning prompts you toward your second step: disabling Fast User Switching, which is easily done with these steps: