Update: In SharePoint 2007 the "Use my local drafts folder" checkbox was checked by default. In SharePoint 2010 and 2013 it is not checked by default. Turns out that this is an Office default and not a SharePoint default and can be changed from the Options screen of Word or Excel. See here for how to change this default: http://techtrainingnotes.blogspot.com/2013/03/sharepoint-change-default-for-my-local.html
When checking out a document SharePoint 2007 and later offers an option to automatically download a copy of the file to your local machine.
Selecting this option will download the file to your computer into a SharePoint Drafts folder inside of your My Documents folder.
When you later check in the document, SharePoint will automatically upload the file from the SharePoint Drafts folder. The file is also automatically deleted from the drafts folder. The file will also be deleted if you Discard the Checkout.
If you cancel the upload you will also cancel the check in.
So far, a very hand feature!
There is an unexpected side effect of the "Use my local drafts folder" option…
- Check out a document with the Use my local drafts folder option
- Later return to the library and download the document
- Edit the downloaded file and then upload back to the library
- When you later check in the file, the copy of the file downloaded to your drafts folder will be uploaded, overwriting your previously uploaded file!
What about Security?
Just something to think about… do your users know what's in their draft folders? Is there any content getting downloaded into laptops and forgotten about?