Posted by: kurtsh | November 14, 2012

INFO: “File syncing” or “Offline file access” for Surface/Windows RT

So one of the big pink elephants in the room is:

“How do I sync files from the cloud to my Surface/Windows RT device?”

I’ve gotten this question more times that I care to admit.  The simple answer is that as of today, there is no facility/tool/app to synchronize files from generic cloud file services to local storage on your Surface/Windows RT device.

This is what’s been confusing.  SkyDrive on Windows 8 Pro provides both online access through the Internet as well as a “sync client” to keep files synchronized between the device & the cloud and cached locally for offline access.

SkyDrive App does not provide this synchronization capability & there is no SkyDrive “sync client” for Surface/Windows RT…


Yes, like MANY THINGS for Windows RT, it’s under development.  It’s just not ready yet.  I know that for a device without a 3G/4G radio, this might seem weird but that’s just the way the dev cycles have worked out, I guess.  But don’t worry – as I understand it, it’s coming.

Actually, there is some modicum of “offline access”.   In Office 2013, any file you’ve opened from SkyDrive or SharePoint has an offline version cached on your Windows RT device in something called the “Office Document Cache” which is kept by default for 14 days.  This of course means that even if you’re offline, you can edit that previously opened document up to 14 days later.

Once you come back online, the “Office 2013 Upload Center” handles the syncing necessary between your offline edits and the online copies like the SkyDrive sync client does.  The Office 2013 Upload Center sort of acts like SkyDrive in that you have the ability to view the cache and open documents directly from it for up to 14 days since being last opened.  (This expiration time can be changed to up to 30 days in the ‘Settings’ of the Office 2013 Upload Center)

To get to the cached Office files:

  1. Open the "Office 2013 Upload Center" by searching in Apps on the Start screen (click on the Upload Center to open)  You should see a list of files in the cache which you can directly open.
  2. Alternatively, you can open any Office application and click the files from the "Most Recently Used" list which will open the file from the cache.


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