Windows XP Offline File Restore Nightmare

Hi all

They say some things in life are painful but worth it - like childbirth,
learning to swim or supporting Liverpool. Well maybe not the last one.

I would appreciate any guidance or input from anyone who has been
through the hell of restoring offline files in Windows XP.

I've outlined everything I've tried below, and my next stop is lighting
a candle in a Church and saying a Novena to St. Jude.

Offline files - "more complex than the offside rule."
I have the lfiles from a laptop of a friend who has a load of files archived
as "offline files" in Windows XP and needs to recover them.

For several weeks, the laptop was storing any files they
saved as "offline". Anyway, they have stopped this and
the laptop is now saving the the network folders again.

However, there are loads of files saved as offline files
that they cannot access. This is because Windows XP
stores these in a special archive format.

Here is what I've learned, and what I've tried.

1. The CSC folder- "Hidden in plain sight - like a bad fart"
I have done some research and learned that the archived files
are in a hidden Windows folder called CSC.

Here's where it start to get tricky.

You cannot go to C/Windows/CSC - It is a hidden folder.
But not a normal hidden folder.

Normally, to show hidden files and folders, you usually got to:
Tools Menu on any Window
Folder Options
View tab
Click on "show hidden files and folders"
Click Apply

I then go in to C/Windows and expect to see CSC - no joy!

From looking around online I found that if you go to:
Press enter

Then the mystery CSC folder will appear.

For convenience, I've made a shortcut to this folder:
Right click on desktop
Go to New
Click Shortcut
insert %SYSTEMROOT%\CSC into the dialog box
a handy shortcut to this mystery folder will appear on the desktop.

In CSC are several folders:


and the files


The folders d1, d2 etc. contain the archived files in a compressed format.

The blogs and forums I've looked around recommend that you
take the contents of the CSC folder and copy them
to another computer running the same verrsion of Windows,
in this case Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3. I have done this.

Then you need to get a program to rebuild the archived folders into readable files -
it's called CSCCMD, and is rarer than GAA trophies in Louth.

2. CSCCMD Program "is it a version or an aversion?"

To access these files you use a program called csccmd.

There are two versions of this program, 1.0 and 1.1 and the 1.1 version program
of them has the "extract" feature that you need. Here is where I found version
1.1 and a general guide that got me started with trying to solve this problem:

3. Using the CSCCMD Program - "Rubbing my lamp but no Genie pops out"

Here's where it gets me stuck.

Some of the guides say You unzip the to the CSC folder in Windows, some don't -
they just say "Run from the command line"

I've tried both. but not got anywhere. From looking around online, I've found
the below commands and followed them to the letter, but no joy. Here is an
extract of what I tried today

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.

C:\Documents and Settings\user>cd\



C:\WINDOWS\CSC> csccmd/enable
The command completed successfully.

C:\WINDOWS\CSC>csccmd /extract

C:\WINDOWS\CSC>csccmd /extract /target:c:\temp /recurse
The command completed successfully.

The files are supposed to magically start appearing in the folder C:\temp but
nothing happens. It's a bit like watching Ireland play football - a lot of fancy
fiddling with the promise of treasure, but you never get anywhere.

Any ideas?
1 answer Last reply
More about windows offline file restore nightmare
  1. Offline files are a client side cache (thus "CSC" for the folder name) of files that are on a network resource. If a network resource was not connected at the time certain files were created or edited, then the system would save the new files in a special location and a special format (that CSC folder you found) until they can be synced back up on the network resource. Once the network share is reconnected, it flushes the cache and writes the files to the network share. In this process, many times it will clear the cache in favor of other files that were used more frequently. It sounds like this is what happened to you. The files are probably on the network share where the user saved them, but not necessarily where the user remembers saving them. (Users can be surprisingly daft at that.) Do a search on the network share, and you should find them. If not, then someone else might have deleted them after they were saved to the network share, in which case, the offline files cache wouldn't be useful anymore, and the files are gone.

    For future reference, if you are trying to rescue files that are available offline on someone's laptop, but not on the network share, and won't sync, use this process:
    keep the laptop detached from any network and attach a USB hard drive.
    Open your Offline files folder.
    Select the files that you need and save them to the USB hard drive.
    Reconnect the laptop and resync the offline files.
    copy the files from the USB drive to the network share once the resync is done, if needed.
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