EPDM – What is a “Private File” vs. a “Local File”


One of the areas of confusion for EPDM users is the difference between “Private Files” and “Local Files” in the user’s local view. EPDM locally caches any files a user is working on, that is when a user checks out or views a file it is copied from the archive server to the user’s local hard drive. This is done automatically so as to be transparent to the end user and to ensure optimal performance while working with the files. Let’s first review what the files “Version” information is telling us when we highlight a file in our local view.


The Version tab can tell us a lot about the file you have selected in Explorer. First we can see a warning icon for this file. This warning tells us that the file we have in our local cache (local version) is older than the “latest version” in the vault. We can also see that we have version 2 locally and version 3 is the latest in the archive server. The current state of the file is also listed along with the category the file was assigned and the workflow that the file is in.

When a file is first added to the local view, it is automatically copied up to the archive server as version “1”. The first save of a file is a “Private File”, this simply means that no other users can see the file in the vault with the exception of the administrator. Let’s look at the version information for a “Private File”.


You can see that the version information for our “New File.docx” indicates that the local copy is the same as the one on the archive server (1/1). In addition, the local state, category and workflow are blank. Anytime the local state is blank the file has never been checked in and is a “Private File”. It is when a file is checked in that these pieces of information are populated on the version tab. While the file is private, the user can continue to edit the file until they are ready to check it in at which time any user that has permissions will see the file in their local view.

A “Local File” is one that is not part of the vault and can be identified by the icon which appears grayed out. In addition, a local file is listed as in the state column in Explorer. A file or even a folder can become local if Enterprise PDM has not detected the file extension as a valid file type when saving it from an application, or if the files or folders were added during an offline session. In addition, local files could be remnants from a rename or move operation by another user. Let’s review the version information for a local file.


The version information for a local file is all blank as seen above. In addition to the file icon being grayed out, the state column clearly shows the file as a local file. In this example, the file was moved to another folder by another user. Since this user had viewed the file previously a local read only file remains. This file is no longer part of the vault and can be deleted since the file in the vault resides in the new folder location.

If files were created during an off-line session or were not added automatically by Enterprise PDM when the file was created, the user can simply right click on the file and select “Add To File Vault”. This will add the file to the archive server and create version 1.

Most of the time local files are simply remnants of move or rename operations or even files that the user no longer has permissions to see in the vault but used to. Since these files can be confusing to users, there are 2 options in the user settings that control if these files are displayed and to clean up the user’s local cache. In the administration client, you can select the user or group settings by right clicking on the user or group and select “Settings”. In the Explorer” section you can see the option under “File types to show”, you can set the option to “Show only files that are part of the vault”. This will prevent the user from seeing the local files. In addition, since most local files are remnants, you can clean up the local files but selecting the option to “Automatically delete local read-only files that are not part of the vault”. It is important to note that if a file is created by the user during an off-line session as described above, the file is not read only and will not be deleted by the Local file clean-up setting.


Both of these settings can be very helpful since local files can be confusing and clutter up the users local view. If you have any questions on these settings or local files, please review the administration guide found under the help menu in the Enterprise PDM administration client.

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Author: Leif Johnson