Restore Offline Files without Windows working?

We had a situation where a customer had many files in her My Documents which was set to synchronize with her SBS server using Offline Files. Well, her Windows install crashed, and no matter what we tried, we could not get the existing Windows install to repair.

This was her home laptop, and she had not synchronized with the server for several months. For many of the files, the only copy was on her hard drive. But with offline files, it does not store them in their naitive format, it is some compressed format in the %SYSTEMROOT%\CSC directory.

After many days of trying to repair her Windows, we remembered using CSCCMD command to forcably remove local copies of offline files to network shares that no longer exist. We thought, maybe the same program can extract these files too... and it CAN!

csccmd.exe v1.1 download

Use a working computer with the same version and service pack level of Windows XP.

Copy the %SYSTEMROOT%\CSC directory contents from the old hard drive to the same location on the working computer.

On the working machine, open a command prompt.

Type csccmd /enable

Create a target directory, for example C:\Restore

Type csccmd /extract /target:C:\Restore /recurse

Your files will be extracted from their compresses offline files format back to their original format!

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