Clearing up the hidden deposits

Windows’ offline files feature is a great thing, particularly with laptops. With Vista, it just got significantly better. And yet it’s still somewhere short of the blissful thing it could be. Say for instance you have some files available offline from a server (or a share) that no is no longer available…
Perhaps the server is no longer within reach; or you just moved the share elsewhere… Whatever the case, you copy the files somewhere safe, and then will want to delete the offline-available files. But how can you do that? An alternative, and equally plausible scenario is that you just want to clear all offline files from a system.

I had tried that with my wife’s laptop some time ago, before going for full-disk encryption. The idea was that the laptop should only have a copy of files she’s actually working on at the moment, not all record of her digital self. For the reason why that’s a good idea, you’ll have to wait for a future instalment. So I tried the obvious way: open up the shares, toggle the files from ‘available offline’, and follow that by a disk cleanup routine (remove all but latest restore point, etc). You’d think that would work, but for some reason that I’ve had to time to investigate, the laptop’s hard disk still wouldn’t increase its free space by the right amount.

A few Google searches later, and I stumbled on an article from Microsoft. The only sure way to clear up all the space taken by Client-Side Caching (CSC) is to obliterate the repository altogether. This will also lose all associations and most settings related to offline files, but otherwise seems a safe procedure (it worked for me, but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work for you. I had backups). What you need to do is:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt (find the "Command Prompt", right-click, and "Run as Administrator")
  2. Type the following command, which will allow you to read/delete the files:
    • takeown /r /f c:windowscsc
  3. Type the following command, which removes the whole repository:
    • rd /s c:windowscsc
  4. In typical Microsoft fashion, Reboot

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